What is the Evidence and Conclusion Process and why is it important to BetterGEDCOM
What do we mean when we say the "Evidence and Conclusion Process."
The Evidence and Conclusion Process is intended to describe the steps genealogical researchers go through while collecting documents about persons, reasoning about the information in the documents gathered, and then inferring if and how the persons mentioned in the documents were related. ("Kinship Determination
Genealogists working with clients might view the Evidence and Conclusion Process from a project perspective--clear beginnings (client request) through clear conclusions (final client report). Conversely, some family historians study for decades about particular families or lineages.
The GenTech Genealogical Data Model
(August 1998) advanced a concept that data modeling could be divided between functions of "administration," "evidence," and "conclusions." See http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/GenTech_Projects
for "Diagram 1.0."
Why is BetterGEDCOM discussing the "Evidence and Conclusion Process."
Genealogical software was originally developed for the purpose of recording "conclusions" [needs authority] so that when GEDCOM was developed, it's purpose was to facilitate the sharing of conclusion level communication. [needs authority]
As the use of genealogical software was expanded, records of "hypothesis," as opposed to conclusions (I "think"/"maybe," vs I know or I have proved) became recorded using otherwise conclusion-level definitions and mechanics built into the software. [needs example or authority] GEDCOM not only facilitated the sharing of "maybes" as "I knows," but the limitations of GEDCOMs definitions and mechanics [needs examples and authorities, if the latter are available] no doubt further conflated think/know communication between users. As our use of the Internet expanded, GEDCOM facilitated "publication" of the conflated thinking.
Part of the current BetterGEDCOM effort is directed at ways to untangle this now long conflated "maybe vs know" issue that likely exists, to one degree or another, in genealogical software and is certainly believed to exist in GEDCOM. Our effort includes developing an understanding of general and scholarly genealogical practices as we begin to define the more specific role software CAN and SHOULD play to advance best practices
within the greater discipline we know and love as genealogy
Join the dialog and/or read more of the discussion .... see the BetterGEDCOM Wiki pages dedicated to Data Models ... [could use some help here ... can we expand the list below so that folks interested specifically in this topic can better find their way to the important pages and discussions about this on the wiki?]:
- Discussion of a Data Model
The Evidence and Conclusion Process consists of the following steps:
- A researcher finds a source of information that contains evidence that mentions persons he may be interested in. He creates a record to document the source.
- The researcher creates records to document each item of evidence in the source that mentions the persons of interest.
- The researcher creates records to document each event mentioned in the evidence, where an event describes something that happened to one or more persons. Events occur at specific times and places, involve one or more persons as role players, and may serve to establish or change relationships between persons.
- The researcher creates records to document each person mentioned in each event, containing only information available from the evidence. The event and associated person records must be treated as a cohesive whole since the person records may hold information that is true only within the context of the event, e.g., the person’s name or age or place of residence, at the time the event occurred.
- The researcher continues this process, completing steps 1 to 4, for a number of sources, until he has built up a number of groups of associated event and person records that contain all he has discovered about a set of persons.
- The researcher reasons about the available person records and sorts them into groups, where each group contains the person records that the researcher believes refer to a single real person. The researcher builds these groups based on experience and good practices, and records the justification for each grouping decision. Because later evidence may prove some groupings to be incorrect, the grouping operation cannot destroy or remove original event or person records. Groups need to be supported by the model.
- The researcher reasons about the event records associated with the persons in each of the person groups in order to infer the relationships that existed between the real persons represented by the groups. The data model allows him or her to establish these relationships, possibly through new records that represent inferred genealogical events, or possibly by establishing relationship links between groups.
This process is called the Evidence and Conclusion process because the first steps involve collecting information from the available genealogical evidence, and the later steps involve inferring the real persons and their relationships that can logically established from the evidence. The terms evidence and conclusion are used loosely here, since even the original event and person records may involve some level of inference as the researcher creates the event and person records from the evidence.
"Record group" is a term used at the National Archives (US) for specific collections of historical documents. I see where Tom is going, and I think the word "information" could best be inserted, so as to come into closer alliance with such well-regarded works as:
Attempt at an illustration of the Evidence-Conclusion-process
Another attempt at describing how Working with an Evidence-Conclusion-Model
might look like.