EAM & GPS: Newsflash! Siblings, not Twins

Evidence Analysis Process Map In another forum, a researcher asks how the "GPS" and its breakdown of sources vs. information vs. evidence applies to DNA.

It’s a spot-on question in today’s research world, but it can’t be answered without straightening out a bit of confusion: EE's Evidence Analysis Map and the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) are two different things.

The Evidence Analysis Map applies to the nitty gritty data-gathering we do every day. It diagrams the physical and mental work we engage in during  the process of research. In brief:

  • We find sources—each of which may be an original record, a derivative record, or an authored narrative).
  • We extract information—whose individual pieces may be primary, secondary, or undetermined.
  • We decide whether that information is evidence for the big question we’re trying to answer—if so, that evidence may be direct, indirect, or negative.

Put another way: at every step of the research process,

  • We think about what kind of source we’re using—because that affects reliability.
  • We think about the firsthand vs. secondhand nature of the information we’re taking from that source—because that affects reliability.
  • We think about whether that information provides evidence for our research question—and how strong that evidence is.

On the other hand …

The GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard) is a set of five criteria we use to measure whether or not a conclusion is reliable. It doesn’t apply to just one piece of data. It’s a test for the whole body of work we’ve done for a specific problem. The five criteria for reliable proof call for

  • Reasonably exhaustive research, using the best sources possible.
  • Thorough documentation of each source.            
  • Skilled analysis and correlation of evidence from all the sources.
  • Resolution of any conflicting evidence.
  • A written proof statement or argument that lays out the *body* of evidence and the reasoning that is used to “make the case” for whatever we think is the only credible answer.

As for how the EAM, GPS, and DNA fit together, stay tuned for the next posting …

HOW TO CITE: Elizabeth Shown Mills, "EAM & GPS: Newsflash! Siblings not Twins," blog post, QuickTips: The Blog @ Evidence Explained (https://www.evidenceexplained.org//quicktips/EAM-GPS-newsflash-siblings-not-twins : posted 9 August 2018).