My Path to Certification – Issue No. 8

Happy New Year! I have decided to skip the year in review/new goals post this year. My priority this year is to work on my BCG portfolio. Finding the time to work on the portfolio with an increasingly packed work schedule is going to be difficult this spring. But the bills come first!

I spent a good portion of my winter vacation working on my Case Study (BCG #6). This last week I discovered a new piece of evidence. I was pursuing the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard)—conducting reasonably exhaustive research—when I discovered the document. I have always been a big fan of collateral research, even as a young genealogist. I discovered early on that if you cannot find the information you desire from the records left by a direct ancestor, try the siblings. I was tracking down a potential sibling when I hit pay-dirt.

Of course, discovering the document boosted my confidence because I did find it, BUT I started questioning what type of evidence it was. You see, in the Case Study, there are rules. The presentation must use one of three techniques:

(a) assembling indirect or negative evidence, or a combination of the two
(b) resolving a conflict between two or more items of direct evidence
(c) resolving conflict between direct evidence and indirect or negative evidence

I am using the first method, using indirect or negative evidence to prove a relationship. Needless to say, I panicked. Did I just find direct evidence that answered my research question? If so, I have just spent months and hours of research on a project that would have to be scrapped?!? Plus, I would have to find a new problem in my research that would fit the criteria of the project.

As part of the BCG process, applicants are invited to join a list serve. It’s a place where questions can be asked, and certified genealogists will attempt to answer the questions. However, the CGs are not allowed to teach to the test. Often their answers are vague, or they will direct the questioner to re-read the Genealogy Standards, rubrics, or other documents which should enlighten nervous applicants. In my case, I was instructed to review the definitions of indirect and direct evidence.

Indirect evidence, as defined in the Genealogy Standards, is “information items that seem to address and answer a research question only when combined.” In contrast, direct evidence is “information that seems to address a research questions and answer it by itself.”

Dr. Thomas W. Jones in his book Mastering Genealogical Proof defines the two types of evidence:

Direct evidence is an information item that answers a research question by itself.”

Indirect evidence is a set of two or more information items that suggest an answer to a research questions only when they are combined.”

There is also a great QuickLesson on the EE (Evidence Explained) website explaining and demonstrating the differences between the three types of evidence.

QuickLesson 13: Classes of Evidence—Direct, Indirect & Negative

The good news is that I am still working on my original Case Study. The better news is that I now know where and when one of my direct ancestors died. I even found his grave-site on FindAGrave. If I hadn’t doggedly pursued the GPS, I would never have located this ancestor. He wasn’t where anyone thought he was when he died.

Since my last post, I have started Jill Morelli, CG®’s Certification Discussion Group. The group meets for seven weeks and discusses each requirement of the portfolio in depth. Having a certified genealogist running the discussion is great! Participants gain access to Jill’s insights into the process as well as to samples from actual passing portfolios. If you are interested, there is a waiting list so contact Jill.

Good luck and happy hunting!

©2018 copyright owned and written by Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2018/01/16/my-path-to-certification-issue-no-8/

12 thoughts on “My Path to Certification – Issue No. 8

  1. Belinda

    I just found your blog and am following it, and your journey towards certification. I’ve been doing genealogy research for years and am just now considering going pro. Certification sounds intimidating, but I am a scientist by trade, so I think I’m up for the task. I’m looking forward to seeing how your journey goes.

    Reply
  2. Margaret Crymes

    A family friend had to throw out her master’s dissertation and start over for kinda similar reasons—and whenever I get to the point when I’m working on a BCG portfolio, I’m terrified of something akin to finding direct evidence when working on a proof via negative or indirect evidence!

    Reply
    1. Deborah Sweeney Post author

      Wow! That would be devastating! I think I’m good though. I’ve heard that people tend to not do the indirect or negative evidence scenario in their portfolio proof argument for that very reason (finding a piece of direct evidence). I think I’m good though. 😁

      Reply
  3. ljhlaura

    Interested to learn you are pursuing BCG certification, as I am also considering it. I have been out of the blogging loop for a while but look forward to reading your other posts on this. It will be interesting to read about your journey.

    Reply

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