All work and research, whether for fun or legal purposes, is performed with the Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) in mind. The BCG explains it best by saying:
Proof is a fundamental concept in genealogy. In order to merit confidence, each conclusion about an ancestor must have sufficient credibility to be accepted as “proved.” Acceptable conclusions, therefore, meet the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). The GPS consists of five elements:
- reasonably exhaustive research;
- complete, accurate citations to the source or sources of each information item;
- tests—through processes of analysis and correlation—of all sources, information items, and evidence;
- resolution of conflicts among evidence items; and
- a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion1
I also subscribe to the Association of Professional Genealogists Code of Ethics, which states:
…I agree that professionalism in genealogy requires ethical conduct in all relationships with the present or potential genealogical community. I therefore agree to:
- Promote a coherent, truthful approach to genealogy, family history and local history.
- Present research results and opinions in a clear, well-organized manner; fully and accurately cite references; and refrain from withholding, suppressing, or knowingly misquoting or misinterpreting sources or data.
- Promote the trust and security of genealogical consumers.
- Advertise services and credentials honestly, avoiding the use of misleading or exaggerated representations; explain without concealment or misrepresentation all fees, charges, and payment structures; abide by agreements regarding project scope, number of hours, and deadlines and reporting schedules; keep adequate, accessible records of financial and project-specific contacts with the consumer; and refrain from knowingly violating or encouraging others to violate laws and regulations concerning copyright, right to privacy, business finances, or other pertinent subjects.
- Support initiatives that preserve public records and access to them.
- Be courteous to research facility personnel and treat records with care and respect; support efforts to locate, collect, and preserve the records by compiling, cataloging, reproducing, and indexing documents; refrain from mutilating, rearranging, or removing from their proper custodians printed, original, microfilmed, or electronic records.
- Promote the welfare of the genealogical community.
- Give proper credit to those who supply information and provide assistance; refrain from (or avoid) knowingly soliciting established clients of another researcher; encourage applicable education, accreditation, and certification; and refrain from public behavior, oral remarks or written communications that defame the profession, individual genealogists, or the Association of Professional Genealogists.2
1. “Board for Certification of Genealogist – The Genealogical Proof Standard,” Board for Certification of Genealogists, (https://www.bcgcertification.org/resources/standard.html [accessed 16 Dec 2015])
2. “Association of Professional Genealogists – Code of Ethics,” Association of Professional Genealogists, (https://www.apgen.org/ethics/index.html [accessed: 15 Dec 2015])