10 March 2019

DNA Standards - Part 8

For "DNA Standards - Part 1" see https://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/2019/03/dna-standards-part-1.html. In the first part I paraphrased the standards for using DNA evidence for genealogy into bullet points.

This is the post for "DNA Standards - Part 8."


Prior bullets are discussed in other parts of this series:

In "DNA Standards - Part 8" I further discuss the final bullet. The main bullets indicate considerations when using DNA to help answer a research question; sub-items explain what is needed to accomplish the tasks defined in the main bullet:

  • publish or share only as a living test taker’s permission allows (Standard 57)
    • deceased persons have no privacy rights; courtesy to living descendants might warrant anonymizing the identity of a deceased test taker
    • general information can be shared as long as the identifying information is hidden (such as when asking for assistance or when teaching how to use a site or tool)

    • do not use a living person’s DNA results if they do not give permission (some disagree on whether inclusion in a public DNA project constitutes permission)
    • do not identify a living person if they do not give permission
      • identities can be anonymized
      • anonymizing too many people in a study may make the conclusion questionable

Unless you are working in a legal capacity where you may be held liable for misidentifying descendants you should be able to use whatever sources you wish to use. If you are publishing, your work will be subject to the requirements of the editor. If you are submitting a portfolio to BCG, your work will be subject to the requirements of BCG. You should contact those entities with your questions.

There will always be disagreements about what constitutes proof. I have read articles in some of the premier genealogical journals that I do not think meet the threshold for the claims made. Obviously, the editors and peer-reviewers felt differently. Some of those articles were based only on documents and some included DNA. We will never all agree on exactly how much evidence is needed for proof and DNA does not change that fact.

BCG, Genealogy Standards, 2nd ed. (Nashville: Ancestry, 2019)


Only BCG provides official answers on what it expects to see in application portfolios. No one, not even members of the BCG Board of Trustees or associates helping at exhibit hall booths, speak officially for BCG. For specifics on what BCG expects to see in portfolios, please use BCG’s website, blog, newsletter, and other means of communication:

All statements made in this blog are the opinion of the post author. This blog is not sponsored by any entity other than Debbie Parker Wayne nor is it supported through free or reduced price access to items discussed unless so indicated in the blog post. Hot links to other sites are provided as a courtesy to the reader and are not an endorsement of the other entities except as clearly stated in the narrative.

21 September 2021: added missing link to part 1.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "DNA Standards - Part 8," Deb's Delvings, 10 March 2019 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2019, Debbie Parker Wayne, Certified Genealogist®, All Rights Reserved


  1. Debbie, thanks for sharing this valuable and thoughtful series. (And for providing all the links!) It is helpful to be reminded that many of the issues we have with DNA mirror challenges we have long had with documentary evidence too, such as uncertainty on how much evidence is enough. You’ve provided examples for some points that enhance our understanding, but you also acknowledge that some issues may continue to be debated.

    The new Genealogy Standards is an essential resource for genealogists, but I think your posts here make it easier to understand how to apply these DNA updates. I’ll definitely be bookmarking your blog series and recommending it.

    1. I am glad if this is helpful, Ann. It always helps me to think of how my DNA research problems can be related to what I have experienced with documentary sources. Many of us prefer quantitative evaluation when so much of genealogy is qualitative. Because of that we will not all evaluate things exactly the same way. Like so many other things, understanding where the other person is coming from may help us all come together.