It is important that our research is accurate. A simple mistake might result in years of researching someone else’s family!
The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), published by the Board of Certification of Genealogists, is a guideline for establishing the reliability (“proof”) of a genealogical conclusion with reasonable certainty. It is important within the genealogical community for clearly communicating the quality of research performed, such as by a professional genealogist. It is also useful for helping new genealogists understand what is needed to do high-quality research.
It has five elements:
- 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
Jewish genealogists also have the IAJGS Ethics for Jewish Genealogists. The IAJGS is the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. The ethics statement includes an adaptation of the late Rabbi Malcolm Stern’s “Ten Commandments in Genealogy”. The first five of these are:
- I wish only to obtain true knowledge about any family I am researching.
- Family traditions must be interpreted with caution and only used as clues.
- All information must be assessed and not given automatic credibility.
- Claims to exalt a family for increased status must be verified.
- Unverifiable data must be labeled as such (see commandment 1).