Many researchers ask the question, "How can I get certified?" Here is my short list of what you need to do to prepare yourself for certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You will be submitting a portfolio of work which will be evaluated by three (or four) judges.
- Read The BCG Application Guide
Everything you need to know about the process as well as what is required for the portfolio is in this free publication. You need to understand exactly what is required for each component. If you don’t follow the directions you will get seriously dinged, possibly to the point of instant failure.
- Compare each section of your portfolio to the BCG Rubrics
The Judges use the BCG rubrics to evaluate your portfolio so you need to make sure your portfolio passes each rubric before you submit it. You are lucky to have the rubrics up front.
- Pay attention to the Standards listed in each Rubric
The BCG has listed each standard that applies to that rubric which you can look up in the Genealogy Standards manual. This book is essential. When you look up the standard you will see expanded information. You should be familiar with ALL of the standards in this book but pay special attention to the ones listed in the rubrics.
- Take advantage of the helps the BCG offers
Visit BCG's Preparing for Certification page and Learning Center. You can follow the BCG News blog to keep up to date with the latest happenings. All applicants are automatically subscribed to OnBoard when they submit their preliminary application.
The BCG now contracts with Legacy Family Tree Webinars to host the BCG Webinars Series. You can register for these ahead of time and they are free to watch live and for 7 days after they have been archived. After that you will need a webinar subscription to view them. A benefit of having a webinar subscription is that you can go back and watch any of the webinars whenever you want and you will have access to the syllabuses.
- Enroll in a ProGen Study Group
The study group is 19 months long and it is based on the book, Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG. I think this is the best prep for the portfolio because each component of the portfolio is addressed (and more).
- Read peer reviewed journals
The National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), The New England Historic Genealogical Society Register (The Register), and The American Genealogist (TAG) are at the top of the list. I also recommend that you join one of the NGSQ Study Groups. Each month you evaluate an article against the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). Being able to apply the GPS to the work of others will help you apply it to yourself.
- Read Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG
The first two chapters are crucial to understand the why and how of citing your sources.
- Read Mastering Genealogical Documentation by Dr. Thomas W. Jones, CG
Dr. Jones also teaches you how to cite your sources using a workbook format. DearMYRTLE has a study group based on this book via her Google Hangouts page that you can join. The previous sessions are archived for you. This is a wonderful resource.
- Read Mastering Genealogical Proof by Dr. Thomas W. Jones, CG
I recommend that you join one of the GenProof Study Groups which is based on this book. This study group is only 8 weeks long and is fast paced so you might want to go through more than once. Understanding the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is essential for your portfolio.
- Be aware that no one can give you specific help/advice on your projects nor can anyone proofread your work
There is a special mailing list for those that are “on the clock” and you can get answers to procedural type questions there. As far as the portfolio work itself, you are on your own. No one can proofread your work before you submit it. You also can’t use any material that has been previously peer-reviewed such as a ProGen assignment.
- Proofreading is still important though
When you are ready to submit your portfolio, set it aside for at least 24 hours (a week would be better) and then proofread it for the last time. I recommend reading it out loud. You are apt to catch something that you didn’t see before because when you read something over and over again you tend to skim. Grammar and punctuation are important as are good editing skills. More words doesn’t mean it’s a better report. Once you have done your final read through don’t start second guessing yourself and try to go back and “fix” things. There comes a point when you just need to let it go.
The BCG allows up to a year to complete your portfolio but they do allow you to extend if need be and many people do (I did). The certification process itself is a wonderful learning experience.
Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.