Striving to Meet Genealogy Standards: Part 2 – Evaluating My Own Work

Last week, I discussed the Genealogical Proof Standard and Genealogy Standards, and how I believe that all genealogists can benefit from keeping these standards in mind as they study their family histories. As I attempt to improve my own research methods, I’ve been trying to be more careful with my work, adhering to the standards as much as I can. I am setting a goal of evaluating some of my work against the Genealogy Standards by aiming to meet the specifications for the portfolio for Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) certification. I am hoping to apply for certification at some point, but aside from when or whether I apply and whether or not I eventually become certified, I would like to be able to do research at that level. 

To be Certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, applicants must submit a portfolio of work including:

  • a signed agreement to follow the genealogist’s code of ethics
  • a description of the applicant’s development activities
  • document work (transcription and abstract of a BCG-supplied document, identification of a relevant research question and analysis of evidence in the document pertaining to that question, and a developed research plan for how to answer that question)
  • a research report prepared for someone else
  • a case study describing a complex genealogical problem and solution
  • a kinship-determination project with a narrative describing three generations of a family

Resources on the BCG website, in particular the BCG Application Guide and the Genealogical Work Samples in the BCG Learning Center describe in detail each of the elements required for the portfolio – and they give examples of high quality work. 

Each component of the portfolio is evaluated against the Genealogy Standards, following criteria in the BCG’s detailed rubrics, which are also freely available online. While not every genealogist needs to be able to complete these types of projects to be a successful researcher, using the rubrics as a guide for (self) evaluation can be a great push to try to produce sound research products and to check that work to see if it meets standards. 

Fortunately, I have already had some opportunities to learn about the portfolio elements. In 2019-2020 I completed the ProGen 43 Study Group. And then in Fall 2021, I participated in the Certification Discussion Group mentored by Jill Morelli. I highly recommend both of these groups for anyone who would like to know more about BCG certification and working to standards, regardless of whether or not you plan to become certified or plan to work as a professional genealogist. These helped me to become more familiar both with the elements of the BCG portfolio, and how these projects can be evaluated with the Genealogy Standards in mind. 

So, one of my goals for the next little while is to work on research projects following (or in some cases perhaps just inspired by) the BCG portfolio guidelines, and to then evaluate my work against the rubrics for each type of work product. I’ll try to post more here on my progress with these projects as I go. 

If anyone would like more insights into how some researchers have prepared for and dealt with the BCG certification process, I would also recommend the following:

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