The Research Like a ProⓇ with DNA Study Group will focus on using autosomal DNA in your genealogical research. One of the prerequisites for the study group is to have access to your autosomal DNA test results. (See the prerequisite section below). You may also wish to include evidence from Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests in your research project, but these tests are not required for the study group.
Registration closed. Join our email list for updates: Study Group Email List.
The study group meets weekly for 12 weeks in a regular session on Wednesday and a short peer group session on Monday. The peer group leaders also lead a question and answer session on Fridays. The first meeting will be on Wednesday, February 1, 2023. There are two times on Wednesday to choose from: 12pm MT and 6pm MT. Please register for the time that works best for your schedule. Those who are on Mountain Standard Time all year (in Arizona), should be aware that on Daylight savings begins March 12.
Each regular session, led by Diana and Nicole, will be 90 minutes long and will include:
-10 minute discussion about the previous assignment
-75 minute lesson taught by Diana or Nicole
-5 minute discussion about the next assignment
Dates and Lesson Topics
2/1/23 Lesson 1: Assess Your DNA Matches & Analyze Your Pedigree
2/8/23 Lesson 2: Organize Your DNA Results & Create a Research Objective
2/15/23 No study group meeting
2/22/23 Lesson 3: Timelines, Source Citations for DNA & Documentary Sources, and File Organization
3/1/23 No study group meeting because of RootsTech
3/8/23 Lesson 4: Analyze Your Sources & DNA Matches
3/15/23 Lesson 5: Locality Research & Ethnicity
3/22/23 Lesson 6: Exploring DNA Tools & Methodology – genetic networks and pedigree triangulation
3/29/23 Lesson 7: Exploring DNA Tools & Methodology – chromosome browsers and segment data
4/5/23 Lesson 8: Research Planning – Selecting DNA Tools & Methodology
4/12/23 Lesson 9: Following Your Plan, Research Logging, & Writing As You Go
4/19/23 No study group meeting to allow extra research and writing time
4/26/23 Lesson 10: Correlating Findings & Writing Your Research Report
5/3/23 Lesson 11: Finishing the Research Report, Publishing, Privacy, & Copyright
5/10/23 Lesson 12: Productivity & Further DNA Education
Peer Group Sessions and Peer Group Leaders
Peer group sessions are an opportunity for participants to meet with 5-6 other participants to discuss their projects. The peer group session will be facilitated by a peer group leader (formerly known as a mentor). Peer group leaders are genealogists who have experience integrating DNA into their research. Each participant will be assigned to a peer group leader who will give feedback on all of their assignments throughout the study group.
The peer group sessions will be on Mondays at some of these times: 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, or 8pm MT and will last about 30-60 minutes. After registering we will send you an form which you can fill out with your preferences for meeting times on Mondays.
The purpose of the peer group session is to discuss your personal project and experience completing the assignment. Peer group leaders will also be completing a project during the study group. Their role is to facilitate the discussion during the peer group session. They will share their experience with the assignment as well.
If you are interested in becoming a peer group leader and receiving complimentary registration for the study group, please go to our application page here: RLP Peer Group Leaders.
This is a fast-moving, time-intensive study group. After the regular session on Wednesday, you will have until Tuesday at 2pm to turn in your assignment. The time you will spend on assignments will depend on the difficulty of your objective. For typical objectives, expect to spend about 10-15 hours per week, or about 1-2 hours per day. For more difficult objectives, you may spend 15-20 or more hours per week. When you choose your objective, please take into account how much time you have to spend on the assignments and the difficulty level of your chosen objective.
Typical: Confirm or reject a traced relationship in the last 3-4 generations that you have already researched with documentary records. (Traced means you have used documentary records to trace your relationship to an ancestor). If this is the first time you are working with DNA evidence, we encourage you to focus on confirming the genetic connection to one of your second-great-grandparents.
Difficult: Test a hypothesized relationship in 3-6 generations that you may or may not have already researched with traditional genealogy records; or research unknown parents of an ancestor 3-6 generations back.
Peer Review and Feedback
Plan to spend 1-2 hours each week on peer review. After you turn in your assignment, you will have two days to review your assigned peers’ work and give them constructive comments. You will be assigned to give feedback to four people each week: three participants (that rotate each week), and your peer group leader. The purpose for peer review is twofold: (1) to learn from the work of others and (2) to provide helpful comments to others. We will create a feedback schedule that shows your assigned peers each week. It is critical that you complete your assignment on time and that you give feedback to your assigned peers. Past participants in the study group say that the peer review is one of their favorite parts of the experience.
After you register, you will be asked to sign a participation and confidentiality agreement stating that you agree to complete your assignments and participate in peer review for four people each week. The agreement also states that you will not share private information about DNA testers and matches mentioned in your peers’ work.
You will receive feedback from three participants and your peer group leader on each of your assignments. The instructors will provide feedback on the research objective, research plan, and final report.
We will be using the following tools for creating research reports, charts, and research logs during the course and suggest that you become familiar with them.
–Google Drive and Google Docs: Research notes, reflection journal, final report, commenting/peer reveiw
–Lucidchart or Diagrams.net: Diagram of close DNA matches, descendancy diagram
–Airtable: Spreadsheet/database of DNA matches, correspondence log, timeline, and research log
–Ancestry.com Family Trees or a Family Tree Software program of your choice (optional): in Lesson 2, we will be encouraging you to organize your DNA matches by adding them to your family tree once you determine the relationship. This works well in Ancestry.com’s online family tree program. You can also do this in whatever family tree software program you use (but not FamilySearch Family Tree or other online collaborative trees). We will not be sharing family trees for peer review.
Some guidance will be given for getting started with these tools after you register as well as during the course. Any time you can spend learning how to use these tools prior to the study group will aid your use of them for assignments. We’ll email you in the month before the study group begins with info about preparation lessons to watch to help you learn more about these tools.
Note about Google Drive: We will not be giving support about how to convert Microsoft Word into Google Docs or sharing Microsoft Word documents on Google Drive. If you are comfortable doing this on your own, that’s fine. However we encourage everyone to create their documents in Google Docs for ease of sharing and peer review.
A. Genealogy Research Experience
1. Create a family tree that is built on original records of at least 3 generations of ancestors, if possible. We recognize that you may have an adoptee or brick wall somewhere in the first 3 generations.
2. Read Research Like a Pro: A Genealogists Guide and complete each assignment, or complete the Research Like a Pro eCourse. You may also study the Research Like a Pro blog posts here. We strongly encourage you to write a genealogical research report prior to joining the RLP with DNA study group. If you are planning to work on a particular ancestor or objective in the study group, it’s beneficial to write a report summarizing the documentary research to this point prior to the study group.
B. DNA and Genetic Genealogy Experience
1. Take an autosomal DNA test and receive your results before the start of the study group or have access to someone else’s autosomal DNA test results (parent, grandparent, etc.). The family tree in requirement A1 should correspond with the person whose DNA test you are using.
2. Transfer/copy your DNA results to additional testing companies’ databases. We recommend the following testing companies: 23andMe, Ancestry, FamilyTree DNA, LivingDNA, and MyHeritage. You may also want to transfer to GEDmatch. GEDmatch is a public database, carefully read the terms and conditions. Only transfer your raw DNA data if you agree with the terms and conditions. Ancestry has the largest database and the most family trees, so we encourage you to have access to an Ancestry test, at minimum, then transfer to the sites that accept uploads. Only Ancestry and 23andMe do not accept uploads. Practice using the websites and tools at the companies where you have your DNA and read their help articles to guide you. Below are links to the help centers of DNA testing companies:
—-23andMe Education Resources – Tutorials
—-FamilyTreeDNA Learning Center
You may also want to use the free “First Look” Classes provided at DNA Adoption for each testing company website.
3. Gain a basic understanding of DNA inheritance. You may do this in a variety of ways. Choose one of the following options:
a. Read one of these three books: The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger, Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne, or Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide for Family Historians edited by Graham S. Holton. (These are affiliate links. Thank you for the support!)
b. Watch the Legacy Family Tree Webinars Series DNA Course 1: Foundations – a five-part series by Blaine Bettinger covering Genealogy and DNA, DNA overview, Y-DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Autosomal DNA. (Legacy Family Tree Webinars costs $10 per month)
c. Watch several of these free videos and webinars, and practice the concepts taught:
—- What is Inheritance? – Learn.Genetics by the University of Utah
—- Finding the Right DNA Test for You: Jim Brewster – RootsTech 2018
—- You’ve Taken a DNA Test, Now What?: Angie Bush – RootsTech 2018
—- My Ancestors are in MY DNA! Angie Bush – RootsTech 2017
—- Essential Considerations for DNA Evidence: Blaine Bettinger – Rootstech 2019
—- Videos by Blaine Bettinger – YouTube (clustering, Thrulines, MyHeritage AutoCluster, genetic networks, sharing different amounts of DNA, quick & dirty trees)
—- Family History Fanatics DNA Videos – YouTube
—- DNA lectures at RootsTech 2020 and RootsTech Connect 2021
Diana Elder AGⓇ is a professional genealogist accredited in the Gulf South region of the United States.She serves as a Commissioner for The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen). Diana first used Y-DNA in 2009 to connect her Texas Royston family to the descendants of John Royston, born 1610 of Virginia. Since then Diana has continued adding to her DNA knowledge and experience. In 2018 she completed the Advanced DNA course, “A Practical Approach: Establishing Genealogical Proof with DNA” at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and regularly uses DNA in her client work as well as her own family history research. Diana is the author of the bestselling book, Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide and the creator of the Research Like a Pro study group and e-Course. Diana and her daughter, Nicole Dyer are the hosts of the Research Like a Pro Genealogy Podcast and share research tips on their website, FamilyLocket.com. Follow Diana’s case study for using DNA and traditional genealogy in her seven-part series, beginning with Creating an Objective for a DNA Research Project.
Nicole Dyer is a professional genealogist, lecturer, and creator of FamilyLocket.com and The Research Like a Pro Genealogy Podcast. She is the co-author of Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide. Nicole speaks at genealogy conferences and events including RootsTech, the National Genealogy Society Conference, and institutes. She specializes in Southern United States research and enjoys incorporating DNA evidence into her research. She has completed the following genealogical institutes: Intermediate Foundations at Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), Introduction to Genetic Genealogy at SLIG, Advanced Methods at SLIG, All-DNA Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum at SLIG, Meeting Standards Using DNA Evidence – Research Strategies at SLIG, and Advanced DNA Evidence at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR). She has taught in DNA courses at SLIG and IGHR.
Alice Childs –
Before joining the Research Like a Pro with DNA study group, I had virtually no experience working with DNA. I had read articles and listened to podcasts about genetic genealogy, but I had never attempted to apply anything I was learning. This study group was the perfect way for me to dive in and learn. Having Diana, Nicole, and Robin walk us through a step-by-step process was good for me. I was able to really explore and learn about how to use DNA in the Research Like a Pro process. Weekly assignments made me accountable and provided hands-on experience every step of the way. Learning about the tools and resources that can help us analyze our DNA results, discover how we are related to our DNA matches, and find common ancestors helped me to realize that it’s not as complicated as I thought it would be, although there is still much more for me to learn! I now have a better understanding of the DNA tools that are available and how and when to use them. I am excited to continue exploring these tools as I take on new projects in the future. Thanks Diana, Nicole, and Robin for a fantastic learning experience!
Ronald White –
Thanks so much for an extraordinary course and a thoroughly satisfying experience! This course is one of the finest educational experiences of my life (including an undergraduate from BYU and a graduate degree from Harvard)! The planning and execution by the Terrific Trio (Diana, Nicole and Robin) was well thought out and truly inspirational!!
The effort started with a depth of planning that could not have been appreciated until one experienced the program. Diana did not of course start out ex nihilo, having had past experience with the RLP using Traditional Genealogy courses. Nevertheless, the Genetic Genealogy added a third dimension –like going from two-dimensional to three-dimensional chess. Each element of the course was well thought out, and most of the challenges that arose were pre-planned in advance.
The execution was at a similar high level which included various elements – delivery, technology, communication and collaboration – that were required for this formidable feat! The execution included an amazing agility in continually advancing the “state of the art” as new technology became available (e.g., multiple auto-clustering approaches) and as new concepts were developed (e.g. Nicole’s discovery and mastery of Airtable).
One other important element has been the creation of the entire edifice, from recruiting Robin as a genealogical expert to the ongoing support provided by the Office Hours and Facebook Group. I must close by noting that if they could elevate my level they can surely support practitioners at all levels in their quest to attain proficiency!
Cheryl Freeman –
Before taking Research Like a Pro with DNA, I had completed the BU genealogical certificate course had read the works of Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne (though still working my way through Advanced Genetic Genealogy.” I understood, at a high level, how to analyze test results. Still, I needed that extra hand to understand how to use them as part of a research plan and in the construction of a proof argument. Research Like a Pro with DNA exceeded my expectations. I learned much more than I expected, and came away with a plan for my future education. The best part of the program, for me, was how Diana and Nicole added DNA to the structure of the Research Like a Pro program, so that DNA research and analysis were a part of each step. The DNA flowcharts and graphics that Robin created are on my desktop to stay. An unexpected bonus was learning new, helpful technologies and applications to make my research better organized. I highly recommend this course for anyone who wants to use DNA in their genealogical research!
Sherri Hessick –
When coming to the Research Like a Pro with DNA Study Group, I had watched many webinars, attended seminars, and read books about using DNA as part of the genealogy research process but had limited practical experience doing so. I use the RLP process for traditional research and looked forward to learning to use it with DNA. Diana, Nicole, and Robin did not disappoint. They gave us the tools we need to continue to expand our knowledge and to use DNA in our current research. The feedback from peers and from the instructors was valuable and the opportunity to meet virtually in a smaller group mid-week to discuss issues and ask questions along with the private Facebook group monitored by Diana, Nicole, and Robin were great helps. This course was fast-paced and packed with a lot of information. I came away with much more confidence in my ability to successfully use DNA in a genealogy research project and to communicate the findings in a logical and understandable format.
Judith Blanco –
Research Like a Pro DNA Study Group is an outstanding course and I highly recommend it. I just finished the fall 2020 course and it helped advance my knowledge and understanding of applying DNA research to genealogy. The instructors are extremely knowledgeable and the course very well organized. The instructors are very open to sharing their knowledge to all, for any question. There is so much to learn in this area that I plan to repeat the course. Plus I really enjoy the structure to keep me focused on my research question. I also learned from my peers by listening to their questions and the answers. If you are looking for a course to improve your DNA research skills than this course is a must.
Laura Moyer –
Participating in the Research Like a Pro with DNA study group helped me to solve an error in a reporting of a death in Germany 184 years ago. That error has led to my 2x great grandmother being attributed to the wrong family or left out completely in countless family trees. Working the RLP process helped me to discover that error. The mystery of my 2x great grandmother has bothered me for years as there was much conflicting information. I do not believe that this would have ever been solved without going through the process. The class was well worth the time and money spent.
Fiona Currie –
Research Like a Pro DNA Study Group is an incredible course and I highly recommend it to everyone. Whether you’re a beginner or have years of experience, you will learn so many new skills. The lectures were so well organized and informative and there’s a real sense of community created among the participants. The peer group study sessions were also helpful and the instructors and peer group leaders were incredibly helpful. I learned how to create a timeline, locality guide and to use several different DNA tools to solve a family mystery. I now feel confident to tackle other genealogical projects using the Research Like a Pro method. Diana, Nicole and Robin are incredibly knowledgeable and approachable. Each instructor took time to give me feedback on my project as well as my peer group leader. Thank you for a wonderful experience!
Linda Tant –
I really enjoyed participating in the Research Like a Pro with DNA study group. The lectures, assignments, and peer review feedback have all helped me refine my previously scattershot approach to genealogy research into an actual written report that I’m proud to share with family.