Don’t Make Up Rubrics!

Rubric: b. an established custom; a set of rules, an injunction; a general prescription. [1]

Rubrics on computerThe definition of “rubric” has morphed from its 15th century ecclesiastical origins into directions of how something is assessed or prescribed.[2] The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) publishes their rubrics on their website, which explains how the BCG judges will assess your submitted portfolio.[3] The BCG website explains:

New research-category applications are evaluated using standards-based rubrics that address all aspects of the work, including documentation, research, writing, and adherence to the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Study of these rubrics will supply insight into the criteria BCG’s judges consider during evaluations.[4]

I contend that one of the reasons some of us (me included) have/had angst associated with the submission of the portfolio is that we worry if we are “following the rules.” That’s not a bad thing; what is a “bad thing” is when we “make up rules”, adding requirements that really aren’t there.

Making up the rubrics is evidence that we are overthinking the portfolio and its process.

Example #1: A friend asked if she would be penalized if she did system x vs. system y in her KDP report. The important point here isn’t the question itself, but rather that she had a misconception about the requirements of the Rubrics. Why did she think that there was a “requirement” for one system over another? I asked which rubric told her that she had to use one system over another. There, of course, wasn’t one.

Example #2: I thought that the three generations of the Kinship Determination Project had to have a theme that tied the three generations together, in addition to being a documented family line. I worked hard to identify a family with theme, selected a family line with a series of three seceders from their home religion. I worked hard to gather the information to support the theme. As I finished up the report, I realized, after doing my “just before I submit my portfolio” reading of the rubrics, there was no requirement for that. I removed much of the theme description and submitted a shorter KDP.

Don’t fabricate rubrics that don’t exist. What isn’t there—isn’t there. You have the ability to do what you wish within the rubrics that are presented.

You can avoid this tendency to make up rubrics by closely reading and understanding the rubrics. Look for key words in the description of the rubrics that “meets standards”. Don’t make it harder by reading more into them than is there!

You should also constantly question your assumptions–not just those assumptions related to your genealogical research, but also those assumptions related to the process of putting your portfolio together.

Are you making up rubrics, and making the process harder? CGs, what are some “rubrics” you made up?

[1] OEDonline
[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, “Rubrics for Evaluating New Applications for BCG Certification,” 15 January 2018, The rubrics are free for the download and while you are there, download (free) the Application Guide. You will want to also obtain the book Genealogy Standards, 50th Anniversary Edition ($, from BCG) which are referred to on the Rubrics. here is the link for the Standards manual:
[3] Ibid., “Rubrics,”



4 comments on “Don’t Make Up Rubrics!

  1. Fuller C. Jones CG says:


  2. Vicci Turner says:

    I enjoy reading your blog. They are always helpful. Vicci

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