Receiving Digital Documents

In September, Transcript Research had the good fortune to co-present with AACRAO to deliver a webinar on Digital Documents and International Admissions which is online if you missed out on in then. Earlier in the month, we had written a little bit about it for the AACRAO Connect, and you check that out here. The excitement around those, and our earlier webinar on an Introduction to Digital Records for the TAICEP At Your Desk series means we have spent the better part of six months thinking intensively about digital documents. So we wrote an epub! You can get the whole document at, but it's a bit ... long (even for us!). So we're going to also send it out in installments that are hopefully a little easier to find the time to read. Scroll down to the end of this email for our first installment on Receiving Digital Documents.

Before we get to that, though, we'd like to let you know about our upcoming webinar on December 1 on programmatic accreditation from select countries. We offered an introductory session on programmatic accreditation a few months ago, and we are following up by focusing on just a handful of countries. Join us if you'd like a brief overview of programmatic accreditation and then focus on accreditation in France, India, the Philippines, and Francophone Africa. Then in March, we're going to finish out this series with another webinar on some really sticky accreditation issues like CAMES, CAAM-HP, business accreditation, and other regional and international accrediting bodies. Register and pay at here.

We'd also like to congratulation our director, Peggy Bell Hendrickson, for being inducted into the TAICEP Hall of Acclaim at the 2020 TAICEP Annual Conference for her two decades of professional contributions to the field of international credentials evaluations.




And now, for the introduction from "Receiving Digital Documents":


In this digital age, how do we know what documents we can accept and from whom?

At Transcript Research, we have long been fans of receiving digital records. This year’s school closures, distance learning, online education, and other upheavals have made it even more critical for us to ensure that we are accepting official academic records from valid sources. Sounds enough enough, right? Well… there are caveats and questions.

  • Who has sent you the document?

  • Using what method?

  • Is this in a response to a request that you made to the institution (replying to your email or using a form you provided to the institution), or is this something requested by the student?

  • Have you confirmed that they are from the appropriate institution?

  • How did you confirm that?

  • Is the person who sent the documents to you authorized to send official academic credentials?

  • Does the institution’s website indicate what department or division of the institution they are from?

  • Does the institution even have a working website?

  • If the documents were sent by email, were they from an email address that is already listed on the institution’s website or government websites, or is it a totally different website?

  • Is the email from a gmail, hotmail, yahoo, or other email provider rather than an email address from an institution-specific domain? Is that common? Should we trust it?

  • If it is an institution-specific domain email address, how do you know this is from an employee and not from a fellow student at the institution?

  • If it is an employee of the institution, have you confirmed that they are authorized to issue or share official academic records?

There are likely more questions than this, but hopefully we will cover the highlights in this document. At our institution, we allow students to provide unofficial copies of their academic records to begin the process, but we require official documents before we are able to finalize and issue our evaluation reports. The definition of official document varies by country and level of study, so we have a pretty detailed list of country requirements on our website. (We also try to send everything for verification, but that is a different story for a different day.) The student needs to make arrangements to send their official documents to us, and we accept digital records as long as we can answer those questions.

To clarify, we do not consider documents sent by the student to be official unless we can verify them. Most of the time, we rely on the official documents to be sent to us. In this article, we are just talking about digital documents so let us limit our focus to that.

Typically, when we are receiving official documents digitally, it starts with an email. This email might be an email telling us we can access a national database, it might be a link from a third-party digital repository, it might be an email from the student telling us where we can download their official digital record directly from the institution’s transcript website, or it might be an email from someone at the institution. Let us discuss each of these scenarios so we can explore some of the other questions and even some of the answers that will help you make good decisions that balance the need to accommodate your students with the need to receive authentic academic credentials.

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