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Standards for Sound Genealogical Research

As Recommended by the National Genealogical Society


Remembering always that they are engaged in a quest for truth, family history researchers consistently —

  • record the source for each item of information they collect.

  • test every hypothesis or theory against credible evidence, and reject those that are not supported by the evidence.

  • seek original records, or reproduced images of them when there is reasonable assurance they have not been altered, as the basis for their research conclusions.

  • use compilations, communications and published works, whether paper or electronic, primarily for their value as guides to locating the original records.

  • state something as a fact only when it is supported by convincing evidence, and identify the evidence when communicating the fact to others.

  • limit with words like "probable" or "possible" any statement that is based on less than convincing evidence, and state the reasons for concluding that it is probable or possible.

  • avoid misleading other researchers by either intentionally or carelessly distributing or publishing inaccurate information.

  • state carefully and honestly the results of their own research, and acknowledge all use of other researchers’ work.

  • recognize the collegial nature of genealogical research by making their work available to others through publication, or by placing copies in appropriate libraries or repositories, and by welcoming critical comment.

  • consider with open minds new evidence or the comments of others on their work and the conclusions they have reached.

    © 1997, 2002 by National Genealogical Society
    Permission is granted to copy or publish this material provided it is reproduced in its entirety, including this notice.

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