Friday, June 22, 2012



What is a "Peer"?

Noun: A person of the same age, status, or ability as another specified person.

In other words if a 'hobbyists' submits a paper to be reviewed by their 'peers' it will be reviewed by 'hobbyists'.

What is JoGG or the 'Journal of Genetic Genealogists?

I have been researching this journal for over a month and from what I could determine there does not seem to be but 'maybe one' geneticist among these Editors, nor could I find a Certified Genealogist listed among them.

I am sure they are all very intelligent, well read, and understand genetics much more than the normal lay person. I have had four children, witnessed the birth of 8 grandchildren and 2 nieces. I have read everything I could find on childbirth since 1966 and consider myself knowledgeable on the subject but I would not, (or could not) walk into a hospital and perform a cesarean section.

Having said that, the Melungeon people are a complex group of people, they left no history to study, and most researchers cannot even agree on who should be called a Melungeon or from whence they came. These families carry surnames that are proven to be from as many as four or five unrelated lines judging from their DNA and are complicated to say the least.

JOGG seems to be a zine for genealogy hobbyists, albeit with upmarket "academic" aspirations. As has been pointed out (JOGG was mentioned once before on this board, but not discussed), JOGG is an outlet for non-geneticists, and even non-scientists, to publish research that may not be acceptable to established scientific journals. (quote: "The main emphasis of this journal will be to present a forum for articles that may not be appropriate for other established genetics journals since they may be based on datasets in which a statistically random sample cannot be guaranteed (i.e. surname studies).") Further, only one person in their entire staff (Editor, Associate Editors and Editorial Board) has credentials in genetics. So, even though there is a "peer-reviewed" system, JOGG is clearly a journal for hobbyists.
Surnames, DNA, and Family History, Oxford University Press, 2011
Page 196
"The growth of interest in genetic genealogy has inspired a group of individuals outside the academic arena who are passionate about the subject and who have an impressive grasp of the research issues.  Two focal points for this group are the International Society of Genetic Genealogy and the Journal of Genetic Genealogy. The Isogg is a non-profit, non-commercial organizaton that provides resources and maintains one of the most up-to-date, if not completely academically verified, phylogenetic tress of Y chromosome haplogroups. The Journal of Genetic Genealogy is its online journal, and while it does not abide by the standard system of scientific peer-review, it has attracted contributions from academic geneticists and will no doubt go on to become an important forum through which academics and the public can interact." 
I have a hard time understanding how this paper could pass peer review with so many obvious errors.  

Did these peers not look at the project page posted at ftDNA?  Did they not notice the "Q" Freeman in the project was omitted, did they ask why?

Did they look at the list of 19 surnames these Administrators have listed as "Core Melungeon Surnames"?  Did they ask why 9 of them, almost half, were not in the project?  Did they ask if there was a 'compelling' reason for publishing a study that was only half finished?

Did they ask why these authors reported several times that Vardy and Valentine Collins were brothers before 'speculating' they might be half brothers because they do not carry the same haplogroup?

I wrote Travis Loller the AP Reporter and asked a few questions on her piece that was published on the Melungeons. I asked specifically if she was aware that Wikipedia stated; 
"So, even though there is a "peer-reviewed" system, JOGG is clearly a journal for hobbyists."
 She said;
"Anyway, I am not relying on my own expertise on this, because I have none. I am relying on the fact that this was published in a peer-reviewed journal. If you feel the researchers' conclusions are wrong, you should really bring it up with the journal's editorial board. If they issue some type of retraction, I will write about it for the AP."
Ms Loller wrote that Wikipedia is not a valid source. I did write to Terry Barton, Editor at Journal of Genetic Genealogy, I am still waiting for a response.

Next -- Vardy and Valentine Collins -- Stay Tuned

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