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Degrees of Deception: Diploma Mills and the Polygraph Examiner Community--A Recommendation for Change

NCJ Number
Polygraph Volume: 37 Issue: 2 Dated: 2008 Pages: 125-135
Timothy J. Weber; Frank Horvath
Date Published
11 pages
After examining the issue of “diploma mills” (unearned or inferior degrees from unaccredited colleges) in general, this paper discusses the implications of this issue for policy changes within organizations that represent polygraph examiners.
Although a business advantage may be leveraged by the misuse of illegitimate academic credentials, the problem is exacerbated in the field of polygraphy. When a person who holds a degree from an unaccredited institution provides expert testimony in court or in another official forum, this discredits not only the individual examiner, but also brings undeserved dishonor to qualified professionals in the field. There are reported occasions when academic credentials from a “diploma mill” have been offered to the U.S. courts by polygraph examiners. Because there is no central registry for polygraph examiners in the United States, it is impossible to identify and distinguish between those who hold academic credentials from accredited institutions and those who are “graduates” of diploma mills. Although worldwide surveys have sought to establish the academic credentials of identifiable polygraph examiners, there is no way to determine whether the academic credential reported by the respondents were legitimate. In an effort to deal with this issue, the authors of this paper surveyed the membership directory of the American Polygraph Association (APA) and used other sources in order to determine how many members held doctoral degrees, as well as how many of these were identifiable as being from an accredited or nonaccredited university or college. Nine of the 27 APA members who reported having doctoral degrees held a doctoral degree from a university or college known to be unaccredited by any recognized accrediting agency. This paper proposes a modification of the APA Bylaws or Code of Ethics that will address this issue. 23 references