“Writing a Conclusion Incorporating DNA Evidence”
Presented by Debbie Parker Wayne, CG®, CGL℠

Reviewed by Cari A. Taplin, CG®

NOTE: This post is one of a series reviewing the BCG Skillbuilding lectures presented at the National Genealogical Society’s 2019 Family History Conference held in St. Charles, Missouri from 08-11 May, 2019. Recordings of these lectures and the accompanying session handout can be purchased from PlaybackNow NGS at https://www.playbackngs.com/

Genealogists often struggle with writing up their research findings. This task may become even more overwhelming when writing about DNA results and how it correlates with their documentary research. Debbie Parker Wayne’s lecture “Writing a Conclusion Incorporating DNA Evidence” provides a useful roadmap for success.

Debbie began with a dedication to the late Donn Devine, JD, CG (Emeritus), FNGS. She described his influence on the use of DNA through his article “Thomas, John and Francis Baldwin of Chester County: A Rare DNA Marker.” At the end of the lecture, she made the point that although a researcher may not have all the proof, there is nothing wrong with writing up the research. If Devine had not written his article, all of the research completed up to that point might have been lost. Future researchers have the benefit of his work because it was published.

Debbie showed how to break the writing process down into useful steps. Writing about DNA is no different than writing about other genealogical research in many ways: articles have a beginning, middle, and end; writing should be clear and logical; the writing should consider the audience. It differs, however, in that there may be more technical vocabulary, abbreviations, symbols, and numbers discussed. Because DNA is largely numerical data, providing charts, tables, and graphs help readers visualize the evidence.

Throughout the lecture, examples demonstrated the principles, making a useful and easy-to-follow system for writing about DNA evidence. Among her recommendations were to first describe the documentary evidence so the reader understands the family structure. Second, write about the DNA evidence moving from simple to more complex points. Third, explain the correlation between the two.

Wayne’s easy style and informative manner are enjoyable and approachable. This excellent and useful demonstration of how to effectively write about DNA conclusions was a fantastic tribute to Donn Devine and a joy to attend.

The words Certified Genealogist and letters CG are registered certification marks, and the designations CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.