I ran across this in my mail from Rootsweb (which, incidentally, seems pretty moribund these days…). I wish applying this standard was better integrated into my genealogy software (The Master Genealogist) and all those available that I’m familiar with:
Preponderance of the Evidence vs. the Genealogical Proof Standard
The final step in proving ancestry lies in the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).
Until recently, researchers cited evidence based upon the legal principle of preponderance of the evidence – meaning that if definitive proof documents could not be located, and if all evidence pointed in the right direction, then a lineage or relationship was accepted as true.
But there are numerous examples of why this might not be true. In my own ancestry, there were three William Harrells, recorded on early census records in Wythe Co., Virginia. A logical assumption might be that they were kin, given that they shared names and lived in the same vicinity. But DNA studies imply that they share a more distant relationship, despite the preponderance of the evidence.
Although certification is not a requirement for proving ancestry, you may wish to review the five elements of the GPS, established by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). They recommend that a strong genealogical proof should include:
- a reasonably exhaustive search;
- complete and accurate source citations;
- analysis and correlation of the collected information;
- resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
- a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.
via RootsWeb Review.