DNA Source Citations
Are you ever frustrated while writing citations? Many people are! Learning about a simplified formula for citations can lift the frustration and bring calm to an important part of genealogical research.
In a previous blog post, DNA Sources, Information, and Evidence: Sorting it All Out, I wrote that you are a source—you share your DNA with a testing company. The DNA testing company extracts DNA from the saliva, or the cheek swab you sent back to the testing company by mail. Your DNA goes through the process of genotyping, which identifies the genetic variants you have.
Next the company compares your DNA information with the DNA information from others in their database, and gives you a report in the form of a DNA match list, Ethnicity Report, Chromosome Browser, Cluster Report, mtDNA or Y-DNA Haplogroup, and many more.
As we cite the information included in a report, we need to follow what Elizabeth Shown Mills often says, “Cite what you see.” We can’t actually see our DNA, but we can see the output or reports from DNA testing companies, or what is shown in the use of DNA analysis tools.
Since the reports are what we see—that is what we cite.
Genealogy Standards by the Board for the Certification of Genealogists has a list of 90 standards that, when followed, guide genealogists to thorough research and conclusions. Genealogy Standard 5 describes a standard format to follow when creating source citations:
Who—The person, agency, business, government, office, or religious body that authored, created, edited, produced, or was responsible for the source; or, if identified, the source’s informant.
What—the source’s title or name; if it is untitled, a clear item-specific description.
When—the date the source was created, published, last modified, or accessed; in some cases, if the source is unpublished, the date of the event it reports.
Where—if unpublished, the source’s physical location; if a published book, CD-ROM, microfilm, or newspaper, its place of publication; if an online resource, a stable URL. or accessed.
Wherein—the specific location within the source where the information item can be found, for example, page, image, or sequence number; or—if the source is unpublished—its box number, folder or collection name, or similar identifying information.
It is important to understand all of the elements of a citation to ensure that you are capturing the information that will lead back to the source. For citations recording DNA information, the following table lists the components and some examples of elements used in creating citations:
Remember that you need to have permission to include the names of living people in published reports.
MyHeritage, “Review DNA Match” for Robin Wirthlin, MyHeritage (https://www.myheritage.com/dna/match : accessed 10 September 2019), estimated 2nd Cousin Once Removed relationship with [Private] sharing 2.3% DNA (165.7 cM) across 8 shared segments (largest segment 51.1 cM), DNA managed by [Private], (MRCA: J. E. Taylor and M. A. Ollerton).
AncestryDNA, “Member Matches for Robin Wirthlin,” AncestryDNA (https://www.ancestry.com/dna : accessed 10 September 2019), predicted 2nd-3rd Cousins, sharing 299cM, 18 segments with [Private].
Genetic Affairs, “AutoCluster Visualization for Robin Wirthlin,” Genetic Affairs (https://www.geneticaffairs.com : accessed 13 September 2019), 23andMe data showing 5 members in Cluster 8, ( MRCA E. Taylor and W. A. Spafford).
DNA Citation Templates
Citation templates can help you create citations quickly by prompting you for the elements of a citation. Templates help to create consistently formed citations, and make the process of writing the citations smoother and easier.
- DNA-Central.com is a fantastic educational subscription website created by Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD. The DNA Citation Maker found at www.dna-central.com has 18 templates for DNA citations.
- Knox Trail Ances-Tree by Brent Chadwick has 18 DNA citation templates-courtesy of Angie Bush. Also included with your order are 18 census citation templates and 52 other commonly used genealogical source templates. After you purchase the templates, they are inserted into your research report or narrative template. Brent is friendly and returns the templates quickly and includes instructions on how to work with the macros in the template.
You can do it!!
Leave the frustration behind as you use the citation formula to create DNA citations!
 Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2019), p. 7.
Other articles in the Research Like a Pro with DNA series:
Step 2 Assess: Understanding and Using Your DNA Results – 4 Simple Steps
Step 3 Organize: Seeing the Big Picture: 3 Ways to Chart Your DNA Matches
Step 4 Research Objective: What Do You Want to Know? 3 Steps to Focus Your DNA Research
Step 5 Analyze your Sources: DNA Sources, Information, and Evidence: Sorting it All Out
Step 6 Locality Research: Where in the World Has My DNA Traveled? DNA and Locality Research
Step 7 Research Planning: Genealogy Research Planning with DNA,
Methodology and Tools to use as you plan your research:
Step 8 Source Citations