What do ethics have to do with genealogy? Turns out, a lot. If you’re paying someone to research your family, you expect the results to be accurate, not fabricated to achieve an objective. You should feel like your money has been well spent and the researcher has used their time well. A simple Google search brought up ethics agreements from numerous genealogy organizations, including ICAPGen, The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists. I was glad to learn that the final step in becoming an Accredited Genealogist is signing an ethics agreement.
November is here and so is my last post about the Accreditation Study Groups. Our group members were all sad to see the study group coming to an end. We had built bonds of friendship meeting every other week for five months. Now we were being set out on our own to accomplish our goals of accreditation. Our final meeting focused on the last step to accreditation – the Oral Review and the Ethics Agreement.
The Oral Review
After passing Level 1, the four-generation project and the Level 2 & 3 written exams, the final step will entail a review with two or three ICAPGen professionals. For one to two hours, we’ll be questioned about our four-generation project and the written exams. The oral review is “open book” just like the written exams. We can have our information on a flash drive or in a binder and can look up answers. Here are some items that might make up the oral review:
The Four-generation Project
– We might be asked why we used a specific research strategy.
– We may need to detail what we would have done differently on our project.
The Written Exam
– The reviewers may ask us to explain or elaborate on answers we gave on the written exam.
– We may get a chance to show we really do know any answers we “missed” on the exam.
– We may need to show our knowledge of our region or a specific record group.
If the reviewers detect a weakness in either our four-generation project or our written exam, we may be given a project to strengthen our knowledge and expertise.
When we pass the oral review, we will be welcomed into the ranks of Accredited Genealogists and then have the opportunity to sign the Code of Ethics. The ICAPGen Website gives this information:
AG Professionals are expected to adhere to high professional ethics at all times. They are required to sign a Professional Ethics Agreement when they first become accredited and again every five years when they renew their credential(s). By signing the Professional Ethics Agreement, an AG professional agrees:
-To conduct himself in a professional and respectful manner at all times.
-To never cause or permit any action that could harm ICAPGen, ICAPGen members, the reputation of ICAPGen, the goodwill associated with the marks and/or with ICAPGen, or the business or other interests of ICAPGen.
-To never engage in illegal, deceptive, misleading, or unethical practices; or advertise or otherwise represent his services or accreditation status in a misleading or deceptive manner.
-To reply promptly to all communications that concern his work and/or conduct as an AG professional.
-To clearly inform his patrons of his fee schedule, the use of others in the discharge of his work, methods of reporting his progress and findings, his areas of accreditation, and his status as an AG professional.
-To make regular written reports to his clients.
-To establish and maintain an accounting system to protect and segregate funds deposited by his clients until he has performed services corresponding to the amount on deposit.
-To adhere to ICAPGen’s code of ethics.
-To hold ICAPGen and its representatives harmless from any and all claims, suits, causes of action, losses, damages, liabilities, costs, charges, and expenses arising from or related to: (i) his exercise of any of his rights and/or obligations under the terms of this agreement; (ii) any actions performed or neglected to be performed by any third parties under his direction and/or control; and (iii) any breach of this agreement by him.
-To allow ICAPGen to inspect and review any materials he has produced that bear any of ICAPGen’s marks to ensure these marks are being used properly and to cooperate with ICAPGen in implementing any corrective measures that ICAPGen may require of him.
-To maintain the confidentiality of all information provided to him by ICAPGen including, but not limited to, tests, standards, marks, and business operations, processes, and strategies. He understands that any such material is the sole property of ICAPGen and agrees to never disclose any such material to any third party without the express written consent of ICAPGen. He agrees to return all such materials to ICAPGen immediately upon request.
Once we’ve signed the Ethics Agreement, we’ll receive a certificate, ICAPGen pin, and be able to use the trademark AG after our name. We’ll need to renew our credential every 5 years by submitting a 3-5 page research report and showing how we’ve improved our skills. We’ll also need to sign the Ethics Agreement again.
Now that I’m getting close to completing my four-generation project, I’m looking forward to testing my skills in the written exam. When I’ve finally earned my credential, my journey as an Accredited Genealogist will have just begun. I love that ICAPGen requires proof that we are always learning and improving our research skills. In this world where DNA research is changing the face of genealogy and new record groups are digitized and put online each week, we must be actively engaged in educating ourselves.
Interested in becoming an Accredited Genealogist? Check out my other posts to learn what you can do to get started.
Best of luck in all of your family history endeavors!