TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2010-04 > 1272473140
From: "LBoswell" <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] The nature of standards RE: BCG Standard #50 and #51(lineage, pedigree, and genealogy compilations)
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2010 12:45:40 -0400
And you know I'll pick up on this.
I see a few considerations here:
1). Do the BCG offerings, as constituted represent 'standards' that 'all
practitioners accept' (as has been claimed by a BCG trustee on the list).
I think the discussion has clearly shown that there are some that need to be
improved as to wording, for the sake of clarity if nothing else. And I
think the number of professionals who do not hold CGs far outnumbers those
who do. Do all of them rigorously apply the BCG 'standards'? No one can
make a claim either way on that.
The almost complete lack of direct references to the 'digital' reality that
has taken centre stage in most matters touching on genealogical research
(whether in digitized offerings online, or all the expanded ability to
conduct remote research right down to scanner or digital camera) seems
something that needs greater coverage. It's how most of us work now, even
when we go to an archives or library. Definitely it's how we'll all be
working in the future as more digital material replaces microfilms and comes
online. And cheaper alternative to digitize material is also directly
impacting local gen and historical society offerings. So standards that
don't put this at their core are outdated.
2) What's the purpose of standards in general, and the BCG's in particular?
And whatever you think it is, are these standards meeting that purpose?
3) What determines whether a standard has been met or not? Is it having a
CG? A CG for me is a great achievement, it means you've proven you
understand and can apply what the BCG is testing you for, but does it
'prove' that all your work will meet standards in the future? Experience
tells me (from reviewing work done by a range of professionals, including
those with CGs) that isn't always going to be the case. So in the end who
decides whether someone is meeting standards in the work they do day after
day? The client (no, most clients haven't much understanding of research
processes). Other colleaques? No, because there isn't an ongoing requirement
for periodic review of client work (ok, CGs renew every 5 years, but they
get to choose what is submitted). So standards are essentially 'voluntary'
or subjectively applied, aside from when an article is written/reviewd (most
of us don't write articles).
4) Is it necessary that there be a standard created for every little aspect
of genealogical research, or could there not be a lesser number of general
standards, more simply expressed that set general goals or purposes rather
than try to serve as detailed how-to explanations. I think it would be hard
to argue against the idea that the more specific it gets, the further (in my
view) it moves from serving any useful purpose as an actual 'standard', and
instead becomes a guide, a "how-to" explanation, and is vulnerable to shifts
in future research practice as a result (digital coverage for example is
woefully indequate in these BCG 'standards'). I'd say several BCG standards
already exhibit this problem clearly (read the discussions).
5) Is there an ideal limit to the number of standards? Should some be
combined or simply dropped? 74 now. What if it was decided standards are
needed to cover aspects of digital research, or some future new option?
Who can work from 74 'standards'? What do you do, keep your manual beside
you and compare? The examples that back up the 'standards' are faked. You
can't go look at supporting documents and see how the standards were applied
in the example because there aren't any.
that's enough probably, but I think we have a long way to go before we have
standards that are "accepted by all practitioners"
Larry Boswell BA, PLCGS
"Historical & Genealogical Research Services"
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Hait
To: Harold Henderson ; Jillaine Smith
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 11:55 AM
Subject: [TGF] The nature of standards RE: BCG Standard #50 and #51
(lineage, pedigree, and genealogy compilations)
Leave it to me to start this discussion when half the list is away. ;) It
is a topic that has come to mind often throughout this discussion but I
really feel compelled to bring it up now.
I see a lot of discussion about what is and isn't a standard, or a
guideline, or a "how-to." Maybe it is just me, but I really don't see the
At least from one perspective, a standard is all of the above. Good,
quality work is not to be created simply "just" to meet a standard as the
end result itself, but for its own sake. Nonetheless, it should meet a
I am in the process of buying a new home, so with the home inspection I
have a different feel for the idea of a standard.
When creating a work product, whether a research report or a house, the
standard serves as a minimum level of acceptable completion. In this sense,
the standard may be a "how-to" statement, when a very specific formula or
format is required, or it may be vague (like a "reasonably
exhaustive/extensive search"). So in the creation process, the standard
will serve this purpose.
On the other hand, whether the standard was consulted during the creation
process or not, the quality of the final work product must still meet the
standard, and in this sense, the standard is not a "how-to" but a checklist
of "does the final product meet these requirements?" Again, this may be
very specific or it may be vague.
Either way, I don't see how some of the BCG standards are or aren't
standards. In my view, they are all standards, with multiple uses, both
before and after the creation process, and with varying degrees of
specificity depending on the degree of such necessary for the particular
Just my opinion
Read the newest article: African-American Genealogy Examiner
LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhait
> Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2010 07:14:59 -0500
> Subject: Re: [TGF] BCG Standard #50 and #51 (lineage, pedigree, and
> Jillaine --
> What am I missing?
> It seems obvious to me that #50 is a standard. It says that in order
> to constitute good work, a compilation has to accurately place
> individual in a family based on evidence.
> Similarly, it seems obvious to me that #51's first sentence is a
> standard. It says that in order to constitute good work, a compilation
> has to have more than just the begats.
> You can construe any standard as "an explanation of how to do
> something." I can't really imagine a standard that doesn't do that on
> some level. The only difference between a standard and a how-to is the
> level of generality, which is why the border between the two is
> debatable. I can see a discussion of whether the second sentence of
> #51 is general enough. But I am at a loss to understand what it means
> to say that neither #50 nor #51 is a standard. How else could these,
> um, important matters be expressed so that you would not consider them
> mere how-tos?
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