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A demonstration by argument and evidence of the validity of a knowledge claim. The term is sometimes used for the knowledge claim itself (confusing that which is proved with the demonstration of its truth). (See "conclusion backed by thorough research, sound analysis, and reliable evidence." [Mills, Evidence Explained, 2007, p. 827.]

There are many forms or systems of proof recognised across different areas of learning. They include deduction from a closed set of axioms, syllogistic argument, induction and contradiction.

There is no absolute or automatic standard of proof in any given sphere of human endeavour. What is accepted is a convention arising from the consensus view of recognised practitioners.

In the field of genealogy, there is always the possibility that any claim can be shown to be invalid by the discovery or revelation of new evidence. Accordingly, the Board for Certification of Genealogists has agreed a Genealogical Proof Standard that extends beyond the formal reasoning (that might be sufficient in a closed field) to encompass the gathering and handling of the evidence upon which the argument is based.

Proof must be backed by thorough research and documentation, by reliable information that is correctly interpreted and carefully correlated, and by a well-reasoned and written analysis of the problem and evidence.

For genealogists and family historians working to the Genealogical Proof Standard, a 'Proof Argument' is the usual way to present a detailed discussion of a problem, the evidence, and the resolution of that problem.

See also, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2007.