What to Do – Evidentia and My DNA Test Results

By | March 1, 2017

Hallelujah! I received my DNA test results!!

Uh…now what…?  HOW do I enter then in Evidentia?  For that matter, WHY should I enter them in Evidentia?

The answers are clear:  “Same as always”, “It depends”, and “Maybe”.  But I guess that is not very helpful. To really break down the answers, we need to break down the test results, and then ask the question – “who are you?”.   Please bear with me.

My First Test ResultsY DNA raw data

My first test was a Y-DNA test from FamilyTreeDNA.  All of a sudden I was in in the world of Y-STR, Haplogroups, and SNP values.

Personally I find all  the information fascinating.  However, not all the information provided by my DNA test results is going to help me in my genealogy research. It is all evidence of something, but it is not all evidence of something that will help me with my family history.


If we look at the various “reports” the genealogy companies make available to us as documents, I think things will become clearer. On the left are the options FamilyTreeDNA makes available to me based on my y-DNA results.

I believe these “documents” can be broken down into 3 categories:

  • Raw Test Data
  • Origin Data
  • Matches

Raw Test Data

I put the “Y-STR Results” and “Haplotree and SNPs” reports in this category.  The raw test results provide evidence of immediate interest to my family history research if I am willing to do some analysis myself. The Haplo and SNP results provide evidence of long term historical value but do not provide meaningful data within a meaningful genealogical period.

Origin Data

“How does knowing I am 22% Italian help me in my research?”

“Haplogroup Origins”, “Ancestral Origins”, “Migration Maps”, and “SNP Maps” peak my curiosity.  I put the “Ethnicity” reports provided with other DNA tests in the same category. Some do not  provide meaningful data within a genealogical period.  For reports that do, how does knowing I am 22% Italian help me in my research? I would argue that it doesn’t, at least not by itself.  At best it is “Indirect Evidence” that is only valuable to support old fashion foot on the ground document research.

Matches

By cross referencing my Y-DNA results with the DNA results of other test takers, testing companies are able to provide potential relatives that are very relevant to my family history research.  If family tree data is provided by those matches, and their tree is cross referenced with my tree, things get REALLY interesting. Of course this depends on the quality of my research and the quality of theirs. More on this later.

Why Should I Enter DNA Test Results in Evidentia?

Going back to the questions we asked at the beginning of this blog post: “How…”, and “Why…”, I would like to answer the second question first.

“You should enter information in Evidentia if you are going to use that information as evidence to help you answer a research question.”

If you agree with the breakdown of documents I described above, that means there is no reason to enter “Origin Data” in Evidentia.  I just don’t see how I would use it to answer a research question. I also don’t see any reason to track “Haplotree & SNP” results.

That leaves “Matches” and “Y-DNA data” (or mtDNA, atDNA, xDNA) records.

Next week I will talk about “Matches” in post by themselves.  I think there is a lot of meat in this topic.

That leaves only the raw DNA test data, and the answer to that depends on who you are.

What Kind of Researcher Are You?

I watched several online webinars related to DNA research last week to prepare for this article:

One was Weaving DNA Test Results into a Proof Argument with Karen Stanbary. This webinar was hosted by Legacy Family Tree and sponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogists It is an excellent story of how Karen used raw DNA results to zero in on a question of paternity that could not be answered without DNA testing.

The webinar was based on an article Karen did for the June 2016 edition of the NGS Quarterly1, and in a future post I would like to dissect how I would break down Karen’s research into Evidentia’s Claim/Tag/Proof model.

As much as I loved the webinar, and in spite of Karen’s generous claim that “if she can do it, anyone can do it”, I just can’t see myself performing that level of technical analysis. If I WAS that kind of researcher, I could create a source record in Evidentia for each test, download the raw test results, and link the results file to the source record. This is the same as I would if the document was an image of a census record, or a PDF with a birth certificate.

However, I suspect that for the average user of Evidentia, raw test results will only be useful for supporting arguments based primarily on other evidence.

How do I Enter DNA Test Results In Evidentia?

I apologize that this article is running so long, but I didn’t want to leave without providing a practical example of how to cite DNA results in Evidentia for those who wish to use those results as evidence in answering a research question.

“When citing results posted online, you use a basic website citation”2

For my test results shown above, that would be:

Note that I chose to attach 2 files to the record – the image of my yDNA test results, and an excel file that I downloaded from the testing website.

Next week we will talk about Match notifications, and I hope to have an announcement about a new feature being added to Evidentia!

See you then!

  1. Stanbary, Karen, CG. “Raphael Arriaga, a Mexican Father in Michigan: Autosomal DNA Helps Identify Paternity.” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 104(June 2016): 85-98.
  2. Mills, Elizabeth S, QuickSheet: Citing Genetic Sources for History Research Evidence! Style. (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co, 2015), 1.