1. Trees. I know I’ll get better results if I have a public tree connected to *each* kit I administer. I’m current on Ancestry, but I need to update FamilyTreeDNA and add trees at 23andMe and GEDmatch for most of the kits I manage. Kitty Cooper has instructions for 23andMe here. The rest have info on the DNA site. I definitely want to think about ‘one world trees’ like WikiTrees and/or FamilySearch trees too.
2. Education. There are a lot more opportunities now than there were just a year or two ago. Helpful books, social media (like Facebook’s Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques), webinars, conferences… something for all skill levels. My action item will be to follow up with the 2017 International Genetic Genealogy conference presentations and see if purchasing online access to some might be helpful. I’ll check out the I4GG website in February or March to see if they’re available yet.
3. Tools. A practical segue from Education. I feel as though I have a pretty good handle on several different third-party tools: GEDmatch, DNAgedcom, DNA Painter, Visual Phasing, and more. I haven’t explored the beta Genesis part of GEDmatch, but I will when my new 23andMe results come in, as their current chip isn’t compatible with normal GEDmatch. If I can find the time in 2018 (iffy – LOL!), I’d like to explore GenomeMatePro. And also spend more time using the tools I’m already comfortable with. I’ll definitely keep working with Visual Phasing and DNA Painter — they are both so much fun!
4. Efficiency. Managing a lot of kits, I need to get more efficient. One resolution might be to adhere to a specific schedule–maybe weekly or monthly checking each kit for new matches over a certain threshold and writing notes on the match where the DNA site supports notes.
5. Organize data. That ties in with efficiency. If I organize my work better, I’ll waste less time trying to remember the match analysis I’ve already done. To be honest, I am super pleased with using DNA Painter to organize all my DNA results that are available with a chromosome browser. I need to get better at organizing my AncestryDNA progress. And in particular, I need to do better at organizing my communications, so I can quickly get my fingers on when we last connected, what we exchanged, and decide when it’s time to follow-up.
6. Brick Walls. Decide which family tree mysteries I hope DNA can help me with and prioritize those. For me, my two top priorities right now are my Griffith conundrum and my 19th century Irish immigrant lines. (I have a lot more brick walls. Whatever I decide in January isn’t written in stone. Plans can change; but it’s better to have a plan than no plan.)
7. Recruiting/new DNA tests. Do I need to solicit anyone else in the family to test? Especially in light of my chosen brick walls? I think my answer is no–for now anyway, I think I’m good. However, I just discovered that DNA.Land now accepts multiple kits managed by the same person. (Details here.) So I should ask my relatives for permission to copy their data here too. Might as well get their consent to transfer their data to FamilyTreeDNA too. And maybe it’s time to consider MyHeritageDNA and Living DNA… two companies I haven’t tested anyone with yet.
8. Write it up! This is a tip I’ve learned from others (like Shannon Green, C.G.) that I’ve found hugely helpful in regular document-driven genealogy too. I pretend I am hiring myself to solve a genealogy problem. I document the question and create a plan of how I intend to find evidence to answer it. Then I conduct the research, analyze the results, draw hypotheses, attempt to refute the hypotheses, make recommendations for next steps, and write it all up like a client report to myself. Since my DNA work for brick walls is all integrated with my genealogy research, I should include a section on DNA in these reports to myself. Often, I set a brick wall aside for months to work on something else, and then a new DNA match suddenly appears. It’s really helpful to be able to pull out that ‘client report’, analyze and update the DNA section in light of the new cousin, revisit my hypotheses, and then update the ‘next steps’ section with revised plans for documentary research and for DNA testing and analysis.
9. Share status/results. Especially if I have recruited someone to take a DNA test, I should keep them posted on how it’s going. (Depending of course on how interested they are.) Do I want to send them some screen captures on their ethnicity results (with caveats)? Do I want to put my brick wall progress results online and send them a link? Maybe I could send them a PDF copy of my ‘client report’ from tip 8. Or write an article about the process and results for a genealogy publication?
10. Don’t forget genealogy! Most of these tips can be applied to basic genealogy too.
Ann Raymont © 2018