Using DNA Source Citations in a Research Report
How do you give credibility to your research that includes DNA evidence? The same way that you give credibility to research using evidence from traditional genealogy sources such as census and probate – with a source citation. Creating a source citation for the DNA matches, ethnicity reports, chromosome browsers, cluster reports, etc. that you use in your research project will back up the conclusions that you’ve drawn from your DNA analysis.
Traditional Genealogy Source Citations
When I wrote my report on Benjamin Cox, I used both traditional research and DNA analysis in discussing his hypothesized father-daughter relationship to my confirmed ancestor, Rachel Cox. I backed up each genealogical fact with a source citation. The research included marriage, census, probate, tax, and court records and my citations reflected both positive and negative searches. As I created each citation I answered the 5 questions of who created the source, what is the source, when is the source, where is the source, and wherein is the source. For more help on creating source citations see my article, “Source Citations: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. You can also view a video of my presentation at RootsTech 2018 by the same title. Here are some of the citations I used in the research report.
Navarro County, Texas, Marriage Records V. A 1-3 1846-1880, Cox-Shults marriage, 4 July 1848, p. 9-10, “Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837-1965,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 10 June 2019), FHL film #1034858, DGS film #7255691, images 14- 15.
1850 U.S. Census, Travis County, Texas, population schedule, Travis, p.141A, dwelling 121, family 121, Benjamin Cox household; digital image, Ancestry (https://ancestry.com : 1 Apr 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, Roll 915.
Bell County, Texas, “Index to Probate Minutes 1850-1930,” negative search for Benjamin Cox, digitized microfilm, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 May 2019); citing FHL microfilm # 981010.
Desmond Walls Allen, Izard County, Arkansas Tax Records 1829-1866 (Conway, Arkansas : Rapid Rabbit Copy, 1986), 52.
Nancy Timmons Samuels and Barbara Roach Knox, Old Northwest Texas : Historical, Statistical, Biographical (Fort Worth, Texas : Fort Worth Genealogical Society, 1980), 110.
Here is a sampling of my research report showing how I used a source citation in the footnotes to back up each genealogical fact.
DNA Source Citations
Because I had no direct evidence linking Rachel Cox to Benjamin Cox, my case was built entirely on indirect evidence – that is until DNA evidence entered the picture. I discovered that Ancestry Thrulines had several potential DNA matches who also shared DNA through Benjamin Cox.
Because these matches were on small segments, I phased my kit on GEDMatch against that of my mother to create a new phased kit of only paternal matches. This greatly reduced the number of false matches. I found that one of my proposed matches to Benjamin Cox also matched my phased paternal kit on GEDMatch so the likelihood of it being a real match was much higher. I verified the Ancestry family tree for that match and used the information in my report as additional evidence for the Benjamin-Rachel Cox connection.
As I wrote my report explaining these matches and reports I created a source citation for each one, again answering the 5 questions. Robin’s article “How to Write DNA Source Citations” gives excellence guidance and includes a helpful chart. Here are the citations I created for my research report.
AncestryDNA “ThruLines for Diana Elder,” matches through Benjamin Cox (1791-1880), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 June 2019.)
GEDmatch Genesis, “Autosomal One-to-one DNA Comparison,” GEDmatch (https;//www.gedmatch.com : accessed 11 June 2019), kits nos. A279720P1 and JH3304066, 1 matching segment on Chr. 16, 13.9 cm, (start-stop points 79,519,633-84,295,943).
Ancestry Public Trees, “Elkins-Cox Family Tree,” M. Romine, William Thomas “Billy” Cox Dr.,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : 11 June 2019).
The purpose of a source citation is to enable another researcher to follow your research path. The citations also remind you of what source you’ve used and lets you retrace your steps. When you return to your research, you’ll quickly be able to pick it up and begin where you left off.
I use DNA evidence in many of my client projects and understanding how to create citations that reflect the DNA evidence is important. I can’t expect my clients to believe my conclusions unless I can properly cite each match list, company report, or family tree of a shared match. Creating DNA source citations is something we all need to master as we learn to use DNA in our research!
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!