I had the pleasure of presenting a Power Hour at RootsTech with two of my colleagues, Julie Stoddard AG, and Lisa Stokes AG. We split our presentation into three parts: the Benefits of Accreditation, an Overview of Accreditation, and Preparing for Accreditation. I’m sharing a brief outline here and linking to the ICAPGen website where appropriate. Our slides and syllabus are attached at the end of this article.
Benefits of Accreditation
I started off our class by discussing three benefits to earning the Accredited Genealogist credential through ICAPGen (The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists).
Increased trust of clients
– The general public may not know what you had to do to earn a credential, but a potential client will know that you did something to raise your skills. They will feel more inclined to trust you with their brick walls and to trust your research findings. Having a credential can give you the confidence you need to work on any type of project.
– The Accredited Genealogist credential has been recognized by the professional genealogical community for over fifty years. You’ll be able to use the AG post nominal after your name.
Marketability and Networking
– Your name will be advertised on the ICAPGen website, bringing you clients and credibility. Clients will be able to find you by name, region of accreditation, or place of residence. Add a picture to personalize your page and include links to your website.
– You will have a professional credential that will stand in most courts as a qualified expert witness in estate and kinship matters.
– Teaching and lecturing about genealogy research is an excellent way to become known in the field of professional research. Having a credential could help you stand out from the large number of individuals submitting proposals. You will gain recognition and respect from your peers and could find new clients through the exposure.
– With an acknowledged credential, clients and employers may be willing to pay a higher rate for your expertise.
Increased Research Skills
– The ICAPGen study groups, webinars, and other study materials developed by experienced Accredited Genealogists can greatly improve your research skills.
– Even if you have no desire to become a professional genealogist, the accreditation process will give you more confidence in your expertise. You’ll receive personalized feedback and suggestion for improvement along the way.
Overview of the Accreditation Process
Julie discussed the process to become an Accredited Genealogist Professional. First you need to choose one of over 30 testing regions in the United States or another country. This will allow you to become an expert in your region. Your skills will transfer to similar regions so you’ll also feel qualified to research in many other locations.
Next she covered the three levels of testing, shown on this slide.
Things to keep in mind:
– Each level must be passed with at least 90%.
– Each portion of a test may be retaken if not passed.
– Each level has a fee ($100).
– One of the benefits of the ICAPGen process is the ability to have others read and edit your project. In fact, ICAPGen encourages you to have others edit your project and provide feedback to help you become a better genealogist and writer. As part of your ICAPGen study groups, others will read and edit your project.
– 40 page limit for the written report portion of the project. It can be composed of research already completed and can be on your your own family if desired.
– The 4-generation project needs to include the following:
Pedigree chart showing only the four families discussed in the report
Family Group Sheets on just those four families
KEY Source documents – limit of 40 documents
Research Log with both positive and negative searches
– Level 2 consists of the following tests: Document Interpretation and General Questions. Each test is open book and lasts two hours. “Open book” includes access to the internet and your digital files. You can also bring any reference materials including those you’ve created.
– Document Interpretation will include questions about documents specific to your region and could have the following types of questions.
What is this document?
Where would you find it?
What information could it contain?
Create a research plan based on the document
– General Questions will include information about your region of choice that shows your proficiency in that region. Topics for questions could include;
History or geography of the region
Important record types
Online & offline sources
Research planning questions
– Understand the methodology for research in your region- the best strategies for searching the records and how to use them.
– Level three consists of a 4-hour research project and an oral review, both are open note with access to the internet and your digital or physical notes.
– The 4-hour research project is similar to the Level 1 project but must be completed in 4 hours. It includes
Family group sheets
– The 4-hour project gives you an opportunity to prove your expertise and the ability to produce high quality research in a limited amount of time. It recreates a real research experience.
– The final step in the Accreditation process is the Oral Review which can last up to 2 hours. It can be done via video chat or at the Family History Library. This is given after passing the written exams and you will asked about your 4 generation project and and record types and methodologies from your region.
Preparation for Accreditation
Lisa Stokes AG discussed three areas of preparation needed for accreditation: education, research experience and writing experience.
– ICAPGen is committed to providing resources to help Accreditation candidates. The “Preparation Resources” page is under development so check back often.
– Watch ICAPGen Videos on YouTube to learn skills needed for successful testing and more about the Accreditation process.
– Watch a variety of other videos and webinars to learn about methodology, history & geography, and record types in your Accreditation region.
– Take genealogy courses, attend conferences & institutes, read genealogy books, and study professionally written articles.
– Get peer feedback: Join a genealogy study group and Facebook groups including the ICAPGen Accreditation Mentoring Group. Lisa specifically mentioned my Research Like a Pro study group or e-Course as excellent preparation!
– Join the ICAPGen Study Group, led by Lisa, when skills are up to par.
– Study the ICAPGen “Regional Resources” document.
– Practice writing effective research plans before beginning each research project.
– Create good research habits: keeping a research log and writing source citations as you research.
– Learn how to access both online and offline repository materials. Search the catalogs at the archives, libraries and other repositories in your accreditation area. Knowing how to obtain records sets you apart as a professional.
– Practice reading, transcribing and abstracting old documents. It’s important to be familiar with many different handwriting styles as there will be a transcription element on the test. Keep in mind that you will not be asked about any documents written before about 1750.
– Practice Analyzing and writing about sources, information and evidence using proper terminology. Watch ICAPGen Videos: “Analysis and Correlation of Evidence” and “Document Interpretation.”
– Practice combing-through each document to find important clues. Then, practice analyzing—writing summaries and conclusions in your research log.
– Practice writing proper citations. ICAPGen does not require a specific citation style, but citations must be consistent and contain all required elements of a citation. Make citation templates to help you create citations efficiently. Watch the ICAPGen video: Documentation & Source Citations.
– Practice writing proofs in your research reports. A proof is a section of a report that documents research findings. It proves events, facts or relationships using analysis and correlation to make a strong conclusion.
– Practice writing research reports for each research project you conduct. We’d like to see you write at least 4-5 research reports before you start your Level 1 Four-Generation Project. Watch ICAPGen videos: “Writing an Effective Research Report,” “Model for a Well-Written Proof,” “Analysis and Correlation of Evidence.”
Start now to reap the many benefits of Accreditation!
Presentation Slides: 2019 RootsTech Perspectives on Accreditation
Presentation Syllabus: Perspectives on Accreditation
Research Like a Pro eCourse
To learn more about my Research Like a Pro online course, which helps you prepare for accreditation, click the image below. If you purchase the course before 3/10/2019, you can use our special RootsTech coupon to get 40% off, making the course just $75. You can start whenever you’re ready and work through the eight modules at your own pace. Get the coupon code here: https://familylocket.com/rootstech/