Friday, 1 April 2016

Getting the Most out of your Y-DNA Test

One of the most important responsibilities of Project Administrators is helping our project members to get the most out of their Y-DNA results. However, it is a common experience that we find that project members forget to put in basic information about their MDKA, or inadvertently leave their results as "Private" so that no one can see them, or do not include any information about their pedigree.

Here is a blog post I wrote recently for my Farrell DNA Project. It lists a series of actions that members can do to get the most out of their results, thus helping to ensure that their money is well spent.  Please feel free to adapt it and use it for your own surname project if you wish.


No matter which test you have taken, there are a few essential actions you should take to get the most out of your Y-DNA test. You may not be able to do all of them all at once, so come back to this page often and check it out again to see if there is anything else you could be doing to maximise the value you get from your Y-DNA test.

You may wish to share the link to this page with any potential recruits so that they can see what they will get if they test.

Make yourself visible to your cousins

1) Add your Farrell Ancestral Line as a Comment on our Post your Pedigree Page. This will potentially help other people to connect with you. It would help if you could provide it in the following format:
1) James FARRELL b c1835 Ardagh, Co.Longford, d 12 Nov 1879 Keenagh, Co. Longford, m 13 Apr 1860 Maria COYLE, Keenagh, Co. Longford
2) Mortimer FARRELL b 1861 etc ... (birth, death, marriage details)
3) Abigail FARRELL b 1890 ... (as above)
4) Francis KENNEDY b 1914 … as above, but not including dates for a) births <100 years ago, b) marriages <75 years ago, or c) deaths <50 years ago
Researcher: (insert your initials here)
Your email address
DNA Kits: (insert your DNA kit numbers)
2) Use your kit number and password to Log in to your personal webpage and explore it. There are a lot of bits & pieces of information you can include on your personal webpage that will optimise your chances of successful collaboration with your DNA matches. And knowing what your DNA results can tell you will help you get the most out of them.

3) You should add your MDKA information (Most Distant Known Ancestor) including dates & locations for both birth and death. The format we recommend is the same as the one above, but you may have to abbreviate it as only a certain number of letters are allowed in this field. Location of birth is the most important piece of information. Here is an example:
James FARRELL b1835 Kilcullen, Co.Kildare, d1879 New York
To add this information, simply click on your name in the top right of your homepage - Account Settings - Genealogy - Most Distant Ancestors ... I have posted instructions on how to do this here.

4) Add your Ancestral Surnames (click on your name in the top right - Account Settings - Genealogy - Surnames). I suggest to put SURNAMES in capital letters and Locations in normal text, as this makes the surnames "jump out" and easier for the reader to scan through.

5) Upload your Family Tree as a GEDCOM file so that you have a version of your family tree on your FTDNA webpages.   This is particularly important if you have done a Family Finder test (autosomal DNA). You can also add your Family Tree manually if it is easier for you. And if you have a Family Tree online, leave a link to it in the About Me section of your Personal Profile. Click here for specific instructions on uploading a Gedcom file - https://www.familytreedna.com/learn/ftdna/how-to-family-tree/

6) Optimise your Privacy settings so that your potential cousins can see your results:
  • Hover over your Name in the top right
  • Click on Account Settings, then the Privacy & Sharing tab at the end of the menu bar above
  • Then simply change the settings under My DNA Results by clicking on the words "Project Members" at the end, and on the next screen checking the box beside "Make my mtDNA & Y-DNA data public". Then press Save.

Before the change
After the change


Check out Project-related Resources

There are a lot of resources that are particularly relevant to the Farrell DNA Project and you should check out and use these as you feel appropriate.

1) Join the Farrell Clan Facebook group if you haven’t already. It is a great place for sharing information and keeping in touch with recent developments.

2) Check out the various pages and the previous posts on this website (the Farrell DNA Project blog). It has a lot of useful information that will help you understand your results.

3) Each Y-DNA-tested member of the project gets a Privatised Personalised Report which includes an interpretation of their results, how they relate to others within the project, and next steps for that particular individual. These reports are published here on this blog for the benefit of everyone - prospective new recruits can thus see what they will get and everybody benefits from the general educational aspect of these reports.

4) Join the relevant Haplogroup projects
Your results will reveal your haplogroup (your branch of the human Y-DNA tree and/or human mtDNA tree). Once your results arrive, make sure you join all the relevant projects as these will assist us in the further analysis of your data and in particular your deep ancestry (where in the world your particular ancestors originated several thousand years ago). The projects are run by volunteer project administrators and they are a rich source for advice, guidance, and support. Frequently there is an associated mailing list or Facebook group you can join to keep abreast of up-to-date developments (this is a fast-moving field).

Relevant Y-DNA haplogroup projects identified thus far include the following:

If your haplogroup project is not listed here, you can see if there is a specific project for your haplogroup on this list: http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Y-DNA_haplogroup_projects

5) Join the relevant Geographical Projects
Relevant Y-DNA geographical projects may include the following:
There may be other geographical projects that are relevant to your ancestral line and you can find them on this list: http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Geographical_DNA_projects


Check out General Resources

There is a lot of information out there about genetic genealogy in general and it can be a bit confusing knowing where to find it. Below is a selection of our "best bits".

1) FTDNA have a lot of useful information in their Learning Centre. Be sure to check out the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

2) The ISOGG wiki is a great place to start looking for general information about any topic related to genetic genealogy, including your particular type of test.

3) Read Kelly Wheaton's beginners’ guide to genetic genealogy: https://sites.google.com/site/wheatonsurname/beginners-guide-to-genetic-genealogy

4) Download and read the e-book from the resources tab on your myFTDNA homepage.

5) There are a variety of different YouTube videos on genetic genealogy which have been prepared by ISOGG members and Project Administrators.

6) Sign up to the relevant genetic genealogy mailing lists, forums and Facebook groups. These can be great sources of help if you have a specific question. See the list here: http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Genetic_genealogy_mailing_lists.
We particularly recommend:

7) Read blogs written by experienced genetic genealogists. See this list of genetic genealogy blogs: http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Genetic_genealogy_blogs

8) Read the relevant articles about your specific DNA-test ...

Y-DNA - traces your father's father's father's line
Y-DNA basics: http://www.familytreedna.com/learn/dna-basics/ydna

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) - traces your mother's mother's mother's line
mtDNA testing for advanced users: http://www.familytreedna.com/learn/mtdna-testing

These two pages are relevant if you have taken the full mitochondrial sequence (FMS) test:
mtDNACommunity: http://www.familytreedna.com/learn/mtdna-community
mtDNA scientific collaboration: http://www.familytreedna.com/learn/mtdna-results-donation

Autosomal DNA (atDNA) - traces all your ancestral lines
Understanding Family Finder results: http://www.familytreedna.com/faq/answers.aspx?id=17
Understanding Population Finder results: http://www.familytreedna.com/faq/answers.aspx?id=22


Please let me know if any of these links are broken or cease working.




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