12 June 2018

Proposed DNA Standards in Genealogical Research


Here are Standards proposed for DNA evidence as a research component with reference to Genealogy Standards, 50th Anniversary Edition (2014), published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Having a copy of Genealogy Standards at hand would be very useful for reviewing the items!

The BCG Genetic Genealogy Standards Committee invites public comments on the following draft (which also includes slight modifications to existing Standards, reflected in the questionnaire). See below for links. Thoughtful genealogists, please submit by 23 July 2018. 



Proposed Chapter 7: Using Genetic Evidence
All work products reporting genealogical conclusions—including those using DNA evidence—should meet the Genealogical Proof Standard and all relevant standards. The following standards, specific to DNA, do not stand alone. They are not the only standards that genealogists’ work should meet. Cross references identify the related existing, published standards.

1. DNA testing is:
Selective. Genealogists select DNA tests, testing companies, and analytical tools with potential to address the genealogical research question.   
Targeted. Genealogists target test takers based on their DNA’s potential to answer a genealogical research question.   
Sufficiently extensive. Genealogists examine the test results of a sufficient number of test matches to draw conclusions about a relationship and to analyze and eliminate competing hypotheses about the relationship posed in the research question. Testing can involve any of at least three groups:   
a. Test takers descended from a hypothesized common ancestor through multiple lines of descent
b. Test takers who descend from multiple possibilities for a common ancestor
c. Test takers selected to distinguish among shared segments pointing to a common ancestor
[See glossary for definitions of ANALYTICAL TOOLS, COMMON ANCESTOR, CONCLUSION, DNA, HYPOTHESIS, RESEARCH QUESTION, SHARED ANCESTRY ON MULTIPLE LINES, SHARED SEGMENTS, and TEST MATCHES.]   
[See related Standards 9, 11, 15, 17, and 19.]

2. Using DNA test results. Genealogists consider all available relevant factors when they use DNA test results as a component of proving a relationship. Those factors include reported and typical amounts of shared DNA, sizes and locations of chromosomal segments, information about mutations, markers or regions that have been tested, number and genealogical expanse of people who were tested, and genetic groups, including meaningful triangulated groups.

Genealogists use valid tools and statistical algorithms from testing companies and third parties to interpret test results and establish conclusions about relationships or their absence. They cautiously form conclusions about the absence of relationships. Genealogists do not use DNA evidence to suggest genetic relationships beyond theoretically possible levels.
[See glossary for definitions of ALGORITHM, DNA TEST RESULTS, GENETIC GROUPS, GENETIC RELATIONSHIPS, MARKER, MUTATION, PROOF, REGIONS OF DNA, REPORTED AMOUNTS OF SHARED DNA, SEGMENT INFORMATION, STATISTICAL PREDICTIONS OF RELATIONSHIPS, TRIANGULATED GROUPS, and TYPICAL AMOUNTS OF SHARED DNA.] 
[See related Standards 12, 45, and 40.]   

3. Identifying shared ancestry of DNA matches. Genealogists using autosomal DNA both report and accommodate the possibility of shared ancestry on multiple lines. The report addresses the accuracy, and depth of test-takers’ pedigrees and assesses any gaps in those pedigrees. Genealogists accommodate gaps by selecting one or more strategies such as the following:   
Further documentary research   
Additional targeted testing   
Clear explanation with justification for concluding that the gap is irrelevant to the research question    
• Segment triangulation   
Analysis of data from clustering and genetic networks
[See glossary for definitions of GENETIC NETWORK, PEDIGREE, SEGMENT TRIANGULATION, SHARED ANCESTRY, and SHARED ANCESTRY ON MULTIPLE LINES.]  
[See related Standards 17, 40, 42, and 45.]   

4. Replicability of DNA test results. Genealogical reports of DNA test results enable others to assess their data and conclusions.
[See glossary for definition of DNA TEST RESULTS.]   
[See related Standard 3b.]   

5. Integrating DNA and documentary evidence. Genealogists use DNA test results in conjunction with reasonably exhaustive documentary research. They assess the merits and shortcomings of both documentary and DNA evidence. They consider points of agreement and disagreement between and within documentary and DNA evidence. They use those assessments and comparisons to help resolve conflicts within their evidence, including conflicts within DNA evidence and between it and any documentary evidence.
[See glossary for definitions of CONFLICTING EVIDENCE and DNA EVIDENCE.]   
[See related Standards 17, 19, 47, 48, and 50.]   

The full draft document is here:
https://bcgcertification.org/DNA/Proposed_Standards.pdfhttps://bcgcertification.org/DNA/Proposed_Standards.pdf

Comment form (deadline 23 July 2018): https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScXrc4f2khLwF4TzTSipAmrppS_wxfTI10IyTWYASqw6gJoBQ/viewformhttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScXrc4f2khLwF4TzTSipAmrppS_wxfTI10IyTWYASqw6gJoBQ/viewform

1 comment:

BDM said...

I (Brenda) just had to add this comment from a completely different medium and topic, Elizabeth Shown Mills on June 14th: "Proof still boils down to meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard. DNA is just one type of evidence. It's not a shiny new replacement for everything else."