Caveat: I know there have been discussions on this topic on blogs and the relevant lists lately and I’ll admit I haven’t had the opportunity to read
many any of these. What follows is my knee-jerk reaction to a recent restating of the rules.
Lately, there has been discussion about what can and cannot be submitted as part of one’s portfolio when seeking certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
I can understand that having the input of other genealogists on one’s work can certainly have too great of an impact and make it impossible for the board to get a clear picture on one’s own skill. I take no issue with the rule that the portfolio not be critiqued by others for this reason.
… part of the same rule forbids the proofreading of the portfolio. As a trained writer and editor, this goes against, well everything.
Firstly, the types of work contained within the portfolio are the same that would be produced in a professional setting for a client. In an ideal world, such reporting should not be passed on to the client without a set of fresh eyes giving it the once over for errors. This is because everyone makes mistakes and after reviewing one’s own work multiple times, it becomes impossible for one’s brain to catch errors. For the same reason, it’s considered a best practice in all industries for work to be proofread before it’s published or otherwise disseminated.
I liken the certification process to that of a graduate student submitting his or her thesis for review before graduation. Any serious graduate student is going to have their work proofread before they submit it. I would expect any serious genealogist would do the same, but here, we are pinioned from doing so and, well, that’s just silly.
I’m sure that the reasoning is that the board wants to weed out those who don’t have a good grasp on proper grammar, spelling and the basics of writing. Maybe there are genealogists out there who are seeking certification, but lack those skills. I have yet to meet one though.
Personally, I’d rather weed out the genealogists who don’t take the extra step of having their work reviewed for errors. I think it would be more efficient and more instructive to state that proper proofreading is an essential step in producing quality genealogical work (and I seem to recall that this is stated in Professional Genealogy and other resources). If we need to stipulate that, for the purposes of certification, such proofreading of the portfolio shall not be done by a genealogist, so as not to affect the quality of genealogical research versus the presentation thereof, then fine.