BCG Updates DNA Evidence Standards

By Ashlee Peck
DNA Evidence Standards
A Science student looking at a model of DNA in a classroom. Credit: Getty Images

As more people turn to DNA to answer meaningful questions about their family history, it’s become critical to have standards for accurate, responsible genetic genealogy research. Misinterpreting DNA evidence or handling information inappropriately can have painful consequences for self and others. Furthermore, lineage societies such as Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) now accept DNA evidence as part of the application process—but your DNA evidence needs to be top-notch. That’s why we wanted to report that the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has updated its DNA evidence standards.

BCG on DNA evidence standards

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has added several new standards for DNA evidence and updated existing ones. Whether or not you are interested in receiving BCG certification, these standards can help you improve your use of DNA test results in your research.

New standards cover test planning and analysis; how extensive DNA data needs to be; verifiability; how to integrate DNA and documentary evidence; making conclusions about genetic relationships and the need to respect privacy rights. Updated standards relate to documenting sources for parent-child links; distinguishing among familial relationships (such as genetic, step, adoptive, etc); using graphics to illustrate analysis; and explaining deficiencies when conclusions can’t be reached.

BCG President Richard G. Sayre states in recent press release that BCG “respects the complexity of the evidence and the corresponding need for professional standards….All genealogists, including applicants [for BCG certification], need to make sound decisions about when DNA can or should be used, and any work products that incorporate it should meet the new standards and ethical provisions.”

The press release shares content from “Standards for Using DNA Evidence,” a new chapter to be incorporated in the next edition of Genealogy Standards, expected to be released in March 2019. Meanwhile, learn more about genealogical proof standards in this article or in this downloadable class.

Use the Genealogical Proof Standard to improve your genealogy research.