New Proposed Standards from BCG for Genetic Genealogy

+18 votes

Yesterday, the BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists) announced a 60-day public comment period for a set of proposed DNA standards for genealogical use. The BCG announced this on Facebook:

"The Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) met in Grand Rapids, Michigan on 2 May 2018. The trustees...debated a proposal to update genealogy standards to incorporate standards related to genetic genealogy. As a result of this discussion BCG intends to move forward with the integration of genetic genealogy into Genealogy Standards. The board directed that the committee's proposal be published for public comment. The proposed standards can be viewed at The public comment period ends on 23 July 2018. Fill out the survey at this link ( by 23 July 2018. Due to the expected volume of comments, we will not be able to acknowledge or respond to individual comments."

Blaine Bettinger, on his blog, wrote in part:

"In January 2015, an ad hoc committee of genealogists released the Genetic Genealogy Standards, a set of guidelines for genealogists incorporating DNA evidence into their research and conclusions (see "Announcing the Genetic Genealogy Standards"). These standards, which also went through a public comment period, have been widely adopted and utilized. However, the Genetic Genealogy Standards were largely ethical standards and did not go far enough in guiding genealogists with the hands-on application of DNA evidence to genealogical research. In contrast, the proposed BCG DNA standards focus on the application of DNA evidence to genealogical research, including essential considerations for planning, applying, and reviewing DNA evidence. I am a proponent of the creation of DNA standards."

I've commented before that incorrect or inexact use of DNA in genealogy has transmogrified into the "rampant online family trees" of the 21st century. As family trees became widely available on the Internet, people would routinely locate a tree or branch they thought might fit theirs, and then copy in the information wholesale with little or no research and vetting. Ergo, errors promulgated left and right.

Something similar is happening now. We're seeing relationships indicated as being "proven" by DNA without sufficient scrutiny and analysis to validate the conclusions, and those statements of proof are being adopted by others and incorporated into their trees. DNA is one type of evidence, powerful as it can be, and it needs to be managed and examined just like any other form of evidence in the genealogical proof standard.

That's one reason the whole concept of WikiTree, to me, is so important. Item number one in the mission statement is accuracy, and the goal of all of us collaborating is to build a consolidated one-tree that is as correct as possible. While the language of the proposed BCG standard doesn't address actual processes or procedures or techniques for DNA evaluation, it does offer a framework for diligence in that evaluation. I'll be offering my comments to the proposal in a few weeks, and if you're involved in the application of genetics to genealogy, I hope you'll thoroughly review the proposal and do the same.

in The Tree House by Edison Williams G2G6 Pilot (355k points)
Thanks for the information. The genetic testing standards are long overdue. Unfortunately were have evolved into a quick answer society and anything which complicates research will be totally ignored by 99% of family history enthusiasts. Since the arrival of these large DNA testing companies, genetic genealogy has consumed the focus of too many people, and the fact that it is only one component of family history research has been set aside. Sadly, We have developed into the easy way out society.

3 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
This'll be interesting.  Two or three times recently at least we've had people using yDNA matches to prove blatantly fictitious pedigrees.

And if you can do that, then you can also prove mistakes, naive assumptions and bad guesses.

They might also comment on DNA companies telling customers they're descended from Niall or (400th) cousins of Richard III.  But I don't suppose they will.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (573k points)
selected by Pip Sheppard
+5 votes
Thank you for the post!   I am still very concerned with the inexperienced genealogist and DNA.
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (755k points)
+5 votes
Thanks for posting. I need to go over them carefully, but BCG tends to be very thorough as does Blaine Bettinger. It is past time to develop such a set of standards. I too have seen some "proven" by DNA that don't really have anything showing a match.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (462k points)

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