One - Be prepared and be warned - DNA testing used to be preceeded by counselling before a test was given. There are potentially amazing and awful consequences to tests? Make sure you understand this before embarking on the voyage of discovery. You do not have to opt in for medical results. The data is yours to control if it is used or not and can be anonymous in many cases?
Two - Check out what each company is really offering, not all tests are equal - preferably one that gives Haplogroup results and X-chromosome results? You can take your data to other sites once tested.
Three - Take your general DNA test (called an autosomal DNA test) and send it away.
Four - Don't switch off - Start learning about DNA- it is easy to get the basics and this really helps to understand how to proceed and how to understand your results.
See Links for suggestions of good places with clear information
Five - Start or improve your family tree, check it for accuracy as well as you can. This will also improve your familiarity with it.
Six - Prepare a standard letter for contacting matches, explain your interests, research and experience - then (modify for each match according to your results and interest).
Seven - When you receive the notification that your results have arrived....
check the ethnicity estimate - is it what you expect? Are you pleased or shocked?
check your DNA kit's own website for matches?
do you have close relatives on there? If not then prioritise the largest matches (biggest segment) or 'percentage DNA in common' (best would be both scenarios). Close matches will help identify parts of your DNA to parents and grandparents and help with smaller and then future matches - see Strategies.
Eight - Use the results to contact anyone of interest on your site, try to reciprocate help and be honest about what you know and what you do not know. We all have different skills but it will help communication. You will not know whether you are contacting an expert or a complete beginner. In a rare event, someone may find your enquiry intrusive. People can get possessive about "their" relatives but take no abuse from anyone and report it if you find it!? Always offer an opportunity to resolve any conflict before reporting if possible. Initial reactions may have cooled by then?
Nine - Use any tools that the website provides (See below)
Ten - Widen the circle - your kit provider has less than 20% of the world's DNA matches.
Eleven - Download the Raw Data File (this information is your possession not the website owners and put your DNA on other free sites, especially GedMatch where you will find other tools to analyse data and match with a wider world.
Twelve - Repeat the process of matching and testing on the other sites
What to do next, will be determined by results of the above. The process above is only a useful 'what to do' when everything is as expected and good matches are found
When it is not useful try DNA Genetics / Not Expected for general ideas - it is more common than you think! :)
If you are having personal difficulties you can also contac me using the email on charts and diagrams for better ideas? I am happy to help! :)
This site aims to be complimentary to other sites with similar aims.
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