Harvard Plagiarism Archive

"[T]he problem of writers . . . passing off the work of others as their own . . . [is] a phenomenon of some significance."
PROFESSOR LAURENCE TRIBE, e-mail to Dean Lawrence Velvel, 9/13/2004

"'I . . . delegated too much responsibility to others . . .,' [Prof. Charles Ogletree] said. 'I was negligent
in not overseeing more carefully the final product that carries my name.' * * * Ogletree told The Crimson that
he had not read the passage of Balkin’s book that appears in his own work. An assistant inserted the material
into a manuscript . . . . But Ogletree said he was closely involved in most of the drafting of the book . . . ."

STEVEN MARKS, "Ogletree Faces Discipline for Copying Text," The Harvard Crimson, 9/13/2004

"'Ronald Klain . . . then only a first-year student at Harvard law . . . spent most of his time with
Tribe working on Tribe's [1985] book God Save This Honorable Court,'" the Legal Times added in 1993.
* * * 'Many of Klain's friends and former colleagues say that he wrote large sections of the book . . . .'"

JOSEPH BOTTUM, "The Big Mahatma," The Weekly Standard, 10/4/2004

"[A]fter several plagiarism scandals broke over distinguished faculty members at Harvard's law school, including
Laurence Tribe,a group of students there set up a blog, Harvard Plagiarism Archive, to follow the University's
handling of the problem. They believe that the University, President Summers, and Dean Elena Kagan
essentially white-washed the scandal and are demanding further action.

PROF. RALPH LUKER, History News Network's "Cliopatria" blog,4/26/2005

“The Tribe and Ogletree matters have catalyzed bitter complaints from Harvard students that the university
employs a double standard. . . . The students have every right to be incensed over this gross double standard.
They in fact ought to raise hell peacefully about it: a constant barrage of letters, emails, statements . . . .”

DEAN LAWRENCE VELVEL, "Velvel on National Affairs" blog, 4/28/2005

"If you want to keep track of this story, I recommend the new Harvard Plagiarism Archive. . . . [I]t's pretty thorough."
TIMOTHY NOAH, Slate's "Chatterbox" blog,9/28/2004

"[Y]ou have done a wonderful service to all by operating the AuthorSkeptics website . . . a fine public service."
DEAN LAWRENCE VELVEL, author of "Velvel on National Affairs," e-mail to AuthorSkeptics, 4/19/2005

Monday, September 27, 2004

PROFESSOR LAURENCE TRIBE -- Harvard Crimson article

Harvard Crimson (the undergraduate student newspaper) published an article this morning in which Professor Tribe began confronting the charges of scholarly misconduct contained in the Weekly Standard article. We will await his more detailed statement or letter to the editor further addressing these charges, and the results of journalists' interviews with him, before offering any commentary.

Below is the text of an e-mail we sent today to various media outlets summarizing part of the Harvard Crimson article and linking to the Weekly Standard article and this webblog. We thank Professor Glenn Reynolds of "Instapundit" fame for mentioning our webblog. See: http://instapundit.com/archives/018066.php. We recommend his post. It offers some perspective, warning against any rush to judgment, with a discussion of the perils of "parallel-hunting." It links to a chapter on plagiarism from an ethics book co-authored by Professor Reynolds. It links to important commentary by Professor Mark Tushnet.

Finally, Professor Reynolds observes that "beyond questions of plagiarism[,] [g]etting together a bunch of research assistants and outsourcing a book to them, with the product of their work appearing under one's own name, isn't exactly immoral -- but it isn't scholarship, either. ... Whether it results in plagiarism, or simply a shoddy product, you're not getting the work product of the person whose name is on the cover." In this connection, it will be interesting to see Professor Tribe's comments on the Weekly Standard''s report that a major legal newspaper in 1993 cited several sources to the effect that much of the book in question was written for Professor Tribe by a first-year law student.


27 September 2004

In the third plagiarism story to hit Harvard Law School in the past 12 months, Professor Laurence Tribe has admitted to “some” plagiarism of Professor Henry Abraham’s classic 1974 book on Supreme Court appointments. See article in today’s Harvard Crimson, “Prof Admits to Misusing Source,” here:
http://www.thecrimson.com/today/article503493.html (admitting “‘failure to attribute some of the material The Weekly Standard identified’” in its recent article, see here: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/674eijco.asp,
although apparently not explaining what material he believes was properly attributed).

The Harvard Crimson article reports that last week Harvard president Lawrence Summers stated that despite the plagiarism accusations against two Harvard Law School professors made in the past year (Alan Dershowitz and Charles Ogletree), “he did not see ‘a big trend’ of plagiarism problems at the Law School,” but “a third case would change his mind. ‘If you had a third one, then ... okay, you get to say this is a special thing, a focused problem at the Law School’....”

Despite the “crystal-clear definition of plagiarism” under Harvard’s rules applicable to students, under which Tribe’s admitted failure to attribute would be a violation if done by a student, the Harvard Crimson article states that Professor Dershowitz is defending Professor Tribe, in part, on the ground that “guidelines in the legal profession are murkier,” and there is “a ‘cultural difference’ between sourcing in the legal profession and other academic disciplines.”

For more background on stories involving the four Harvard-affiliated scholars accused of plagiarism in the past two years, see our webblog, at http://authorskeptics.blogspot.com, recently discussed in the“Instapundit” weblog, at http://instapundit.com/archives/018066.php.


Sunday, September 26, 2004


(The fourth plagiarism story involving a Harvard scholar during the past two years involves Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School. The story was broken by the Weekly Standard on September 24. Below is the text of the final e-mail we sent out on September 25 just prior to setting up this blog, of our "HARVARD PLAGIARISM UPDATE," Revision 4.3. In it we discussed the Weekly Standard story and also announced we were adopting the suggestion of a Harvard Law School student that we change our name from "OgletreeSkeptics" to "AuthorSkeptics," to avoid undue focus on Professor Ogletree or for that matter any other particular professor, and to encourage more of a focus on the important institutional issues posed by these stories.)

"OgletreeSkeptics" changed to "AuthorSkeptics";
Weekly Standard story on Professor Tribe

This is to inform the Harvard campus newspapers and everyone else being blind copied on this e-mail who in the past have received one or more of our HARVARD PLAGIARISM updates that in response to an excellent suggestion in a post by a Harvard Law School student, Jeremy Blachman (see here: http://jeremyblachman.blogspot.com/2004/09/i-have-opinion-on-real-issue-of-some.html), prompted in part by a new Weekly Standard story alleging scholarly misconduct by Professor Tribe (see here: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/674eijco.asp), we have changed the name under which we will send out any further updates.

Instead of "OgletreeSkeptics" the name is now "AuthorSkeptics." Our e-mail address is now AuthorSkeptics@hotmail.com." Our news summaries will no longer be called "Ogletree News Archive." They will be called "Harvard Plagiarism Archive."

We should make clear this suggestion, though welcome, was unsolicited. Neither Mr. Blachman nor anyone on the Harvard Law School Record has had any connection to "OgletreeSkeptics."

We are making this change because Mr. Blachman’s comments show the name we chose for sending out our e-mails risks misunderstanding. Mr. Blachman credits us for helping bring some attention to plagiarism issues at Harvard but says, "I think OgletreeSkeptics ought to change its name to AuthorSkeptics and instead of trying to create some momentum around attacking Ogletree, perhaps create some momentum around trying to change the way the industry works, if this is the way the industry works."

We found the following analysis by Mr. Blachman, which is deserving of quotation and discussion, persuasive to our decision to change our name so as to not to seem to unfairly target Professor Ogletree in the process of addressing the broad institutional issues implicated by the stories addressing possible scholarly misconduct at Harvard. Mr. Blachman writes:
"I feel bad for Prof. Ogletree. ... I feel bad for him because the sense I get is that what he did is something everyone does, and he just got unlucky enough to have research assistants who accidentally messed up and screwed him over. This is bad for academia; it says bad things about the way people write books today.... I think [Dean] Velvel is right that Ogletree's assistants probably did a substantial deal more than assistants might do in a world with the highest standards of honesty and integrity. But I think Velvel's wrong to say that it means ... Ogletree wasn't competent and diligent without saying that it probably means everyone else isn't competent and diligent either, and Ogletree just got unlucky.

"And here's the problem I see: whether or not I'm right about this being a problem throughout academia and the larger world beyond it, it's not an unreasonable conclusion to draw. And what this means is that if there are professors acting with integrity, and having research assistants assist with research instead of actually writing their books, they get hurt by the implication that there's dishonest stuff going on everywhere. So people start to doubt even the ‘good eggs,’ and their reputations get hurt. This is bad. This is bad because it'll encourage people who are acting with integrity now to stop acting with integrity, because everyone's going to assume they aren't anyway, so why not cut corners?"
Mr. Blachman’s comments are well-meaning and constructive and have led us to adopt the name he has suggested, which is an excellent one. However, to clarify, our point never has been to focus on Professor Ogletree’s plagiarism, or on Professor Ogletree personally. We picked the first part of "OgletreeSkeptics" because Professor Ogletree was the third and latest Harvard scholar accused of plagiarism in the past two years. So it was topical, and we decided to include his name, even though our e-mails summarized coverage of all three plagiarism stories. As explained in Revision 4.2 (dated 23 September 2004), we picked the second part based on a news article describing a prominent Harvard Law School professor as one of "the Summers skeptics." We thought if a law professor can be a "skeptic" of the Harvard president, we can and should say we are "skeptics" of Ogletree, and of other Harvard scholars who commit plagiarism and of the Harvard administration that applies a double standard to them, conducting less investigation and imposing less discipline than if a Harvard student were involved.

Plus, the overall name was appropriate because one of our main complaints was about Professor Ogletree’s failure to be forthright about how his book was written. For that reason we were skeptical of him. On the Friday of Labor Day Weekend he posted on a website a brief and puzzling statement that seemed to go out of its way to avoid key details about how his book was written for him by others. Then he apparently declined all interviews except for one conducted by a Harvard undergraduate reporting for the school newspaper. Also, to date the dean has not commented. We believe it is right to be skeptical of such PR tactics, especially the failure by the Harvard administration to acknowledge that a student who did what Ogletree admits having done would be severely disciplined and thus its failure to acknowledge a double standard at Harvard for plagiarism, even after the Harvard student newspaper published an editorial on this exact point.

Now that a fourth plagiarism story at Harvard has come to light, involving Ogletree’s colleague Professor Laurence H. Tribe, the name "OgletreeSkeptics" seems dated anyway. We picked it because Professor Ogletree’s was the latest plagiarism story and now that is no longer the case. We had half seriously given thought to changing our name on a periodic basis to "______Skeptics," with "______" being the last name of the latest Harvard scholar accused of plagiarism. That would now make it "TribeSkeptics," although with two such cases uncovered in just the last month, adopting that approach might put us at the risk of having to change the name again soon. Some might argue it would be deserved to change the name to "TribeSkeptics," and it would show we are "equal opportunity skeptics." However, it would risk the misperception that Mr. Blachman’s e-mail reflects, that we are somehow seeking to personalize the discussion of what in the end are institutional plagiarism problems at Harvard, and perhaps at other universities.

Plus it would seem unfair to Professor Tribe at least at this point. We sent out e-mails under the "OgletreeSkeptics" name summarizing the plagiarism charges against Professor Ogletree (and Professors Dershowitz and Goodwin) only after he had already admitted wrongdoing and had failed to show candor in his discussion of the wrongdoing. Professor Tribe has not yet had an opportunity to address the Weekly Standard article published only yesterday. We have already received two astonished/irate e-mails concerning the Tribe story from professors who have been kind enough to write us in the past and give us comments and suggestions for improvement, and who we told about the story yesterday evening. We may feature those e-mails, and any others we may receive, in future updates if the professors give their consent to reprint the e-mails.

However, we feel it is premature for those professors, or anyone, to pass judgment on Professor Tribe until he has an opportunity to write to defend himself against the charges in the Weekly Standard article, just as he wrote to defend himself in the pages of the Wall Street Journal on November 13, 1985, in response to the last attack made on this particular book, in a book review by Terry Eastland which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on October 31, 1985. Professor Tribe has a considerable scholarly reputation, and we feel he should be given the benefit of any doubt until he has had an opportunity to address the specifics of the charges. As his Wall Street Journal article shows, Professor Tribe is prompt and direct in responding when his work is attacked, so at least we can expect him to issue a detailed statement and make himself freely available for interviews and not try like Professor Ogletree to issue a brief and puzzling statement and then apparently duck interviews by reporters who seek to pin down details not addressed in the statement and to get out all the facts so people can judge for themselves.

Beyond the issue discussed by Mr. Blachman which caused us to change our name, there is one other issue that can be discussed now, before all the details are in, which we will throw out for what it might be worth. The amount of "borrowing" in Professor Tribe’s book of material from Professor Abraham’s book is at the very least concerning and is something justifying investigation and discussion, however people come out in the end as to whether it is actually "plagiarism," or "plagiaphrasing" (as the Modern Language Association defines it), or some other specific type of scholarly misconduct. The heavy "borrowing," or whatever term is used, is something that has been known about for a long time, and the issue of who actually wrote the book is also something that has been discussed for years. The Weekly Standard article mentions a book review in the Los Angeles Times from February 2, 1986, by political science professor Dennis Mahoney, who stated, "Anyone who cares about the historical background should read Henry Abraham’s ‘Justices and Presidents,’ from which Tribe apparently borrowed most of his examples." As far back as 1993, the Weekly Standard reports, there was news coverage to the effect that much of the book was written for Professor Tribe by a first-year law student, which would tend to explain the heavy "borrowing," although Professor Tribe disputed that claim in 1993. Professor Abraham is quoted in the Weekly Standard article as stating, "I was aware of what Tribe was doing when I first read his book .... But I chose not to do anything at the time. I’ve never confronted him – and I was wrong in not following it up. I should have done something about it. ... [H]e’s a big mahatma and thinks he can get away with this sort of thing."

How many others have known about this for nearly two decades but said nothing? And why did it take recent events at Harvard, and news coverage of them, to spur someone to come forward? The Weekly Standard reports it was only after Professor Tribe commented on a website about the "problem of writers ... passing off the work of others as their own" as being "a phenomenon of some significance" (to read Professor Tribe’s entire post, see here: http://velvelonnationalaffairs.blogspot.com/2004/09/re-ogletree-transgression.html) that a law professor, who if Mahoney and Abraham are any indication knew about this years ago, was moved to contact the Weekly Standard and suggest it "take a look at Tribe’s own God Save This Honorable Court" in case it "wanted to explore" that particular problem.

Why would a law professor do nothing for years and only report on Professor Tribe after he in effect placed a "KICK ME!" sign on his own back by commenting for Dean Velvel’s website about the evils of plagiarism? Only then did the law professor bother to contact a news organization. How many other instances of possible scholarly misconduct either at Harvard or elsewhere are out there but to date have not been examined because those who have committed possible scholarly misconduct have refrained from publicly speaking up about the "problem of writers ... passing off the work of others as their own," and thus have avoided triggering the ire of others in their field with a low tolerance for hypocrisy? This is perhaps something meriting discussion even at this early stage in the story. It is a matter with institutional implications for how scholarly work is done and whether scholars have much to fear in the way of consequences even if other scholars notice their misdeeds. Whether or not there is in effect a "code of silence" among members of academia concerning possible scholarly misconduct, at least possible scholarly misconduct by the "celebrity" professors Dean Velvel derides, has importance far beyond the particular scholars involved in this situation.

[cc] (see http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/cc/cc.html;

Our 9/23/04 e-mail on who we are

(On September 23, we sent out an e-mail which was principally devoted to setting forth our e-mail exchange with Professor Bruce Jackson regarding who is/are the "OgletreeSkeptics," the name we were using at that time. For those who are interested in this and did not receive the e-mail, we reprint it here, except we have deleted the older material that originally appeared at the bottom of the e-mail (see posts below for that information).)

Who is/are the "OgletreeSkeptics"?

This is Revision 4.2 of the OGLETREE NEWS ARCHIVE. Revision 4.1 was e-mailed a week ago, on September 16, 2004, as it appears below after the double lining. There has been little additional news coverage of the Harvard plagiarism stories in the past week, so we have not yet updated the links set forth there. The most important new development remains Professor Tribe’s endorsement of the significance of the plagiarism issues identified by Dean Velvel in his blog posts, in the comments from Professor Tribe e-mailed to Dean Velvel and posted on his blog.

When we issue a new revision with updated links, we plan to feature the new links at the top of this e-mail and leave the earlier material unaltered, to make it easy for people to browse only the new links. If someone is willing to host our content on a website, that will make it easier to navigate this material and will cut down on the e-mail load.

Given the light coverage this past week, to encourage further interest in these important stories this revision is being e-mailed to a much wider list of recipients, particularly legal blogs, than past e-mails.

The only new material in this Revision 4.2, which appears immediately below, and before the double lining that separates this new material from the Revision 4.1 material, relates to a question those who have received past e-mails may be asking themselves: who is/are "OgletreeSkeptics"? Why this particular e-mail address, what is our agenda, and especially, why are we anonymous? In response to our earlier e-mails which have gone to over 100 recipients (primarily news outlets and professors), we have received a good number of approving comments, as well as some suggestions and questions. We have also receive two, and only two, e-mails critical of us, a verifiable fact, because anyone who sent us a critical e-mail that we didn’t acknowledge could report our failure to acknowledge it to the Harvard newspapers to discredit us.

The author of one of the critical e-mails was so critical that the end of the e-mail the author indicated a wish not to communicate with us further. So we did not write back. Because that author did not insist the e-mail sent to us be posted by us, we are not posting it. Although the author gave permission for us to post the e-mail if we wished, because the author is a well-respected law professor and the e-mail does not portray the author in a flattering light we are not posting it, out of a sense of decorum, as we see no point in posting it.

The other critical e-mail was quite different in tone and content, in terms of a willingness to engage us on the substance of the criticism. The author of this e-mail was Professor Bruce Jackson of SUNY Buffalo, the prolific author and journalist who among other things runs a website, "Buffalo Report" (
http://www.buffaloreport.com) which we linked to as it contains one of the articles we listed on the Dershowitz plagiarism story. That is why we included him as an e-mail recipient.

Professor Jackson asked us who is/are the "OgletreeSkeptics." He candidly set forth his view that our sending of anonymous posts is unethical unless we have a good explanation for why we are anonymous. We considered this to be a legitimate point, and we engaged Professor Jackson in an exchange of views in an effort to convince him that what we are doing, all things considered, is reasonable and valuable, and not unethical. For whatever it may be worth in clearing up similar reactions others may have, with Professor Jackson’s permission, here is the e-mail exchange. Immediately following the e-mail exchange is the text of OGLETREE NEWS ARCHIVE Revision 4.1, in its entirety, as was sent out on September 16.

[cc] (see http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/cc/cc.html;

From: "Bruce Jackson"
To: "OgletreeSkeptics" <ogletreeskeptics@yahoo.com>
Date: Thurs, 16 Sep 2004 21:11:07 -0400

Who is sending me these emails? I think this is the third or fourth I’ve gotten on this matter. Who is/are "OgletreeSkeptics"? If you’re going to attack someone’s ethics you should put your name on it, unless there’s a compelling legitimate reason why you can’t, in which case you should tell us what it is.
Bruce Jackson

Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 3:01 PM
From: "OgletreeSkeptics" <ogletreeskeptics@yahoo.com>
To: "Buffalo Report" <bjackson@buffalo.edu>
Subject: Who is/are "OgletreeSkeptics," and why not pur your name on it?

Professor Jackson:

Your e-mail raises legitimate questions. The e-mail address "OgletreeSkeptics" was inspired by an article on Harvard President Larry Summers, quoting "one of the Summers skeptics," a highly regarded Harvard Law School professor (http://www.bruna.nl/content/scienceguide/genres/forum/harvard_radical.jsp). If highly regarded law professors can be "skeptics" toward their own university president, then others should be able to be skeptical of plagiarists such as Ogletree (and Goodwin and Dershowitz), and the Harvard administrators who are enforcing more stringent standards for plagiarism for students than they are for professors.

As to compelling, legitimate reasons to remain anonymous in this situation, in addition to that article (noting that even tenured professors are unwilling to publicly criticize Summers), see:












Unfortunately, this is not an atmosphere conductive to non-anonymous highlighting of ethical issues such as these.

Besides, our news archive only seeks to summarize all major discussion of the Ogletree, Goodwin, and Dershowitz stories (at least those that can be linked to on the Internet). We are not initiating any attacks on anyone's ethics. We want to include all discussion, both positive and negative. Because we are seeking only to summarize coverage and call attention to aspects of the stories that deserve to be covered further, perhaps a name other than "OgletreeSkeptics" would be more appropriate as an e-mail address to use for sending out these summaries. We will work on that, though we hope someone will as a long-term solution offer to host these summaries on a website.

We only sent you the e-mail because your website contains one of the articles to which we linked. If you'd like to be removed from the e-mail list, please tell us and we will remove you.
Feel free to post this e-mail on your website if you wish. If we want to post yours, may we?


From: "Bruce Jackson" <bjackson@buffalo.edu>
To: "OgletreeSkeptics" <ogletreeskeptics@yahoo.com>
Subject: Who is/are "OgletreeSkeptics," and why not pur your name on it?
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 23:13:52 -0400

All that is interesting and there are important issues involved here, but, again, who are you? You’ve obviously done a lot of work chasing down all these urls and doing all this mailing. Are you a disinterested scholar? Someone who got a bad grade from someone at HLS? Someone interested in improving the performance of the profession? Why do you have to remain anonymous?

Date: Sat, 18 Sep 2004 11:31 AM
From: "OgletreeSkeptics" <ogletreeskeptics@yahoo.com>
To: "Buffalo Report" <bjackson@buffalo.edu>
Subject: Who is/are "OgletreeSkeptics," and why not put your name on it?

Professor Jackson:

You make a generally legitimate inquiry in asking at minimum for a category within which we fall, to give you and others a rough idea why we’re doing this. Such information can be helpful in evaluating information and particularly in considering potential sources of bias. For example the recent demand that Dan Rather generally describe the source of the allegedly forged Bush documents, for example, whether the source is affiliated with the Democrats and especially the Kerry campaign, or whether the source has some type of grudge against Bush.

The inquiry is pointless given the particular circumstances here. Unless we actually identify ourselves there’d be no reason for anyone to believe anything we said about generally why we’re interested in these issues because there’d be no way to verify it. Thus there'd be every reason to believe anything we said would be a smokescreen. For us to engage in that process would just hurt our credibility, and we would receive no credit for anything we said no matter how truthful we were.

A main reason we don’t wish to identify ourselves in any way is to remove a potential distraction and keep the focus on the substance of the plagiarism at Harvard and the failure by the administration to appropriately discipline scholars, and on its double standard with students being held to higher standards than professors. For example, last year, as soon as Professor Dershowitz was accused of plagiarism he largely avoided discussing the substance of the charges by engaging in ideological attacks on his accusers and making ad hominem attacks on them. At least as far as our participation in the debate, however limited (remember, at least to date we’re just summarizing and commenting on the news coverage), that’s not going to happen. Sure, he or others can complain that we’re anonymous (like the Kobe Bryant team has just complained that the police interview of him was leaked anonymously), but that only goes so far. At some point, the facts being highlighted anonymously are the facts, and they have to be dealt with no matter who has leaked or highlighted them.

Of course, though we’re trying hard to stick just to the facts which we feel we must do to have any credibility as we are after all anonymous, there’s every reason for those reading our posts to be skeptical of us to the degree they even care at all about the issues we’re highlighting. To err on the side of caution readers should assume the absolutely worst motives they can imagine, not just the possible motives you’ve suggested. Taking a leaf from Dershowitz, why not throw ideological animus into the mix? Even throw in animus relating to religion, ethnicity, or national origin. To really clear the air in response to your inquiry, those skeptical of our motives can just assume these posts are being sent by the most biased, bigoted, angry, even vengeful people they can imagine.

The point of this exercise is to make clear that given the quite modest scope of our posts, which are restricted to existing coverage of these plagiarism stories, and do not make any new factual allegations, it really doesn’t matter what our motives are, or who we are. We're not asking anyone to trust us on any new factual allegations, based on our identities. The posts are what they are, and they have some potential value even if one makes the worst imaginable assumptions about us and our motives. Regardless of our motives we have every reason to make our posts fair, reasonable, and accurate, so people will read them and be aided by them to pay more attention to these plagiarism issues, and therefore our work won’t be wasted. There are many anonymously written blogs out there, and our e-mails are really no different than an anonymously written blog, especially because we will immediately drop from our e-mail list anyone who does not want to receive updates of the archive of news stories and thus we are not being intrusive by e-mailing people. With any luck someone will soon offer to have these postings featured on a website or blog and further e-mails will be unnecessary. It doesn’t matter to us whether a website or blog willing to host these postings is anonymous or non-anonymous. In our view all that matters is the information itself which has whatever value it has.

Readers who don’t like these posts can and should attack anything in them they see as inaccurate or unfair, and either place the attacks on their own websites or blogs or e-mail them to us. We’ll reprint these attacks, even if we think they’re unfair, and we’ll respond to them either by rebutting the charge if it’s incorrect, or fixing the problem if we’re in the wrong. By doing that we will increase the credibility of our posts over the long term by demonstrating we’re responsible journalists/commentators.

Because we’ve stuck so closely to the facts, we predict there will be few attacks on the accuracy or fairness of our posts, those few will be covered by us, people receiving these posts who have made attacks will compare notes and realize no one has attacked our posts without the attack being publicly discussed, and the end result is that our posts will have added credibility because they will have withstood the process of our encouraging attacks on them.

We’ll respect the privacy of those who write us. If they wish they may use their real name and authorize us to use their name in reprinting anything they write. If they wish they may use their real name but ask us not to include their identity in reprinting anything they write. If they wish they may write us anonymously. Beyond being the fair and decent thing to do, by respecting the privacy of those who write us we will be further demonstrating our responsible handling of these issues and in that way increasing the credibility of our entire effort. We’re not doing this to waste our time or as some sort of prank. We want to have a real effect, however small, on how these issues are handled in academia.

We would be pleased if updating and sending out our news archive becomes unnecessary because the Harvard administration quickly arranges for an independent, outside investigation of the Ogletree plagiarism and the two other recent instances of plagiarism, and announces that in the future students and professors will be held to at least the same standards regarding plagiarism (though professors, one would think, should be held to higher standards). Those affiliated with academics, not just at Harvard but elsewhere, who are uncomfortable with or upset by these anonymous posts should perhaps look to the root problem that has led to them being sent out, rather than focusing on the motives or ethics of the person or persons sending them. Your e-mails do, however, raise generally legitimate issues, and you have been candid and up front in addressing them, and we thought we owed it to you to take them seriously and answer them as fully as we feel comfortable answering them.

Unless we hear otherwise by Monday noon (Eastern time) we’ll assume we’re free to reprint or summarize your e-mails and/or your name in future revisions of our news archive, since we asked you about this in our earlier e-mail and you did not object to our using your name. If we quote or summarize you, we will do so accurately. If you do object to our using your name, we’ll reprint your e-mails and describe you only as a prominent professor and prolific author at a well-regarded public university in the Northeast.

As we said earlier you’re free to reprint on your website or elsewhere all e-mails you receive from us.


From: "Bruce Jackson" <bjackson@buffalo.edu>
To: "OgletreeSkeptics" <ogletreeskeptics@yahoo.com>
Subject: Who is/are "OgletreeSkeptics," and why not put your name on it?
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 2004 15:24:01 -0400


All the points you raise and discuss are good and valid, which means, I guess, I agree with them. The web is a place where people should critically examine what they find and make up their own minds. Caveat lector. I knew a bit about the Dershowitz affair, so I was comfortable (as you know) posting material regarding it on my own web site. I don't know anything about the Ogletree affair except what I've read in your mailings. Because of the vigor of those mailings I did indeed wonder if you had a jones against Ogletree, against Harvard, or against academics who apparently carelessly paste their name on the work of other people. You told me, properly I think, that none of that should matter: the material was there for me (and others) to do with as I might, and the web is there and other sources are there for me to delve more deeply into any of this should I wish. Your mailings were collections of things already available; the interpretations of those things, the decision about the validity of each, was up to anyone who clicked on any of the links, as is always the case on the web.

I'd like everybody to be free enough to put his or her name on anything out here in the free land of the web, but clearly that is not possible. Some of the best reporters on my own site have to write under pseudonyms. That is, as it is for each of us, the writer's call.

About using my emails: go right ahead. The web is a land of no privacy and infinite replicability. I would ask nothing more than what you offer: that you quote or summarize me accurately.

Bruce Jackson

Our 9/16/04 e-mail overviewing our news summary of Harvard plagiarism stories since 2002

(We included this introduction and explanatory note at the top of our September 16 e-mail, in which we summarized the coverage to date of the Ogletree story, and of the older Dershowitz and Goodwin stories. See the posts immediately below for that information.)



Summaries of the coverage to date of the Ogletree plagiarism story are set forth (as updated since the last revision) below. First, a major new development worth highlighting. One of the most extensive Internet discussions of the Ogletree plagiarism story is hosted on the website of law school Dean Lawrence Velvel, who is commenting, and posting the comments of others, about what he calls "The Ogletree Transgression." For his most extensive posting, see here:

Commenting on Dean Velvel’s discussion, in an e-mail Professor Laurence Tribe, the renowned Harvard Law School professor, and a colleague and friend of Ogletree’s, declined to defend Ogletree on the specifics of his plagiarism of Balkin and his use of ghostwriters, stating: "I don’t see it as my place either to offer excuses for my colleagues’ and friends’ missteps or to pile on them when the world is already heaping calumny upon them." Also, Professor Tribe expressed his agreement with Dean Velvel’s assessment of the importance of the systemic issues for academia raised by the ghostwriting issue, stating: "As to the larger problem you describe – the problem of writers ... passing off work of others as their own – I think you’re focusing on a phenomenon of some significance." See:

With even Professor Tribe, a colleague and friend of Ogletree, refusing to defend Ogletree on the specifics of the charges that are swirling against him in the media, and agreeing with Dean Velvel that the charge Ogletree used ghostwriters raises an issue significant for academia as a whole, the Harvard administration should force an independent, outside investigation of this issue. (Beyond Professor Tribe and Dean Velvel, the Volokh Conspiracy blog and the Weekly Standard magazine have also highlighted this issue). Harvard should not pretend this matter has already been considered and dismissed by the Clark/Bok internal "investigation" which found that Ogletree was merely an "accidental plagiarist" and which totally ignored the much more troubling issues raised by Ogletree’s use of ghostwriters to create a "product" bearing his name, while pretending he’d written the entire book himself.



Below is an updated listing of coverage of the Ogletree plagiarism story, and the related Goodwin and Dershowitz plagiarism stories. Revised versions of this listing will be circulated from time to time to supply a convenient means of following all three developing stories. Thanks to all those who suggested additional links, or edits to the summaries of the links, and even deletions, to enhance the accuracy, fairness, and decorum of these posts. Particular thanks to the person (who does not wish to be identified) who drafted succinct summaries of the stories regarding the Goodwin and Dershowitz scandals (see below). Additional suggestions or comments are most welcome. As indicated at the end, anyone is free to further distribute, or expand upon, this material under the counter-copyright/creative commons concept. Perhaps someone would be willing to post some or all of this e-mail on a website, to cut down the e-mail load and allow easier access to it by others. We wish to remain anonymous and, in any event, do not have a website.

As the links below illustrate, print journalists and bloggers seem to be converging on a consensus that Ogletree is guilty not just of carelessness, but of deliberate plagiarism with very serious implications for the scholarly standards applied to professors at elite institutions. (If anyone knows of anyone who has defended Ogletree in print, for example, in a letter to the editor, please forward the link as we want this summary of news coverage to be fair and complete.)

The statement by Ogletree posted on the Harvard Law School Website (
http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/2004/09/03_ogletree.php) focuses on the (apparently/purportedly) negligent lifting of a few pages from Balkin’s book by Ogletree’s student research assistants. The consensus seems to be that the real focus should be on what that statement reveals about how Ogletree produced his book, which Ogletree terms a "product," a product which he and President Bok have admitted (see September 13 Harvard Crimson, and September 9 Boston Globe stories, respectively) was manufactured (that is, written) largely by Ogletree’s students. It would be one thing if Ogletree had explicitly acknowledged in the preface of his book that his students had written much of it. This he did not do. Ogletree’s statement appears deliberately deceptive (as Dean Velvel has put it, "too clever by half") in its attempt to obscure the deeper level of plagiarism involved in Ogletree’s decision to have parts of his book secretly ghostwritten by others, and then not reveal it, but instead pretend he’d written the entire book himself.

IF ANYONE WHO RECEIVES THIS E-MAIL WOULD FOR ANY REASON PREFER NOT TO RECEIVE UPDATES, please indicate that by return e-mail and you will immediately be taken off the list. If you request to be dropped from the list, that will be kept confidential. The identities of those being blind copied on the e-mails will continue to be kept confidential from everyone else on the list. If someone offers to post this and future e-mails on a website, future e-mails will simply direct the recipient to an updated version of this listing on that website.

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(The third story regarding plagiarism by a Harvard scholar to arise in the past two years involves Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree. The story broke on the law school's own website in early September. Here, unedited, is the summary of our news coverage of the Ogletree story e-mailed on September 16, 2004, for the benefit of those who are interested in this story who did not receive that e-mail.)


For the most important coverage of the latest Harvard plagiarism scandal, involving Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree's plagiarism of Yale law professor Jack Balkin in a recent book, and the ghostwriting of that book by Ogletree's students, see (in chronological order):

September 3, Harvard Law School website:
(Ogletree statement announcing "corrections" of "errors" and "mistakes" that were made in his book, which were "avoidable and preventable")

September 9 "Boston Globe":
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2004/09/09/ogletree_admits_lifted_passages?mode=PF (Marcella Bombardieri and David Mehegan) (quoting former Harvard president Derek Bok, who was appointed by the law school dean to investigate, and who concluded that because Ogletree faced "a very tight deadline" on the book he "marshaled his assistants and parceled out the work" on the book)

September 9, "Copyfight" (weblog)
(Donna Wentworth) ("If this were Capitol Hill, a PR professional might have advised Professor Ogletree to announce that ‘mistakes were made,’ so as to spread responsibility. I would say that ‘books were written’ – and that spreading responsibility in this instance is the only honest thing to do.")

September 9, "Legal Theory Blog" (weblog of law professor Lawrence Solum, Harvard Law School J.D. 1984; editor of Law Review)
("In some ways the most distressing aspect of the story is the way that it seems to take for granted the practice of publishing research assistant’s work as one’s own without explicit sharing of authorship credit – a practice that is, in my mind, quite dubious.")

September 10 "Weekly Standard" (published online September 10; September 20 print issue):
(Joseph Bottum) ("Ogletree didn't plan to write All Deliberate Speed in the first place. His graduate assistants cobbled it together for him from other sources -- and, as Ogletree puts it, 'I was negligent in not overseeing more carefully the final product that carries my name.' That's a curious construction, but it seems correct, in the end. Surely we reserve the term 'authors' for people who write books -- not people who create 'final products that carry their name.' ... When did this become the way that a Harvard faculty member produces a book? … I find the pseudo-production of All Deliberate Speed [most] disturbing. Ogletree's assistants pasted together material from other books, then swept through the assembled text rewriting, editing, paraphrasing, and summarizing as they went. They got caught because they missed a passage, but what's wrong isn't the part they missed. It's the whole procedure. ... [B]y every explanation, Ogletree conceived much of the book as a kind of double plagiarism: He set out to put his name on work done by his assistants, who, he knew, were merely rephrasing work written by other people. That is not a book. It is, at the least, tenure-revoking ghostwriting. Why hasn't Harvard, which has known about this for months, done something about Charles Ogletree?")

September 10 "Velvel on National Affairs" (law school Dean Lawrence Velvel’s weblog)

"I read and enjoyed [Ogletree’s] book earlier this year, but am going to say here some very harsh things about Ogletree’s plagiarism and what it represents. ... [T]he entire incident further stimulates longstanding concern about, and may in fact reflect, forms of corrupt conduct that have become pervasive in America today. ... The incident implicates possible dishonest conduct (wholly aside from advertent or inadvertent plagiarism). It portrays lack of diligence and competence. And it illustrates that rewards accrue to the celebrified, not to the honest and competent. ...

"What [Ogletree’s] two assistants were doing sounds awfully much as if they were writing the book or at least some parts of it. Isn’t that what it means when someone inserts material, researches it, reviews it and edits it before sending it to the publisher, and then does send it to the publisher? ... So how much of this book did assistants insert, review, research, summarize and send to the publisher? How much, if any, of the rest of the book, in other words, was defacto written by someone other than Ogletree, although only Ogletree’s name appears as the author? ...

"Ogletree is a man sufficiently brilliant that he is a professor at the Harvard Law School. Yet he read a draft of his own book so sloppily, so carelessly, that even though the six paragraphs in question are two and one-half pages and 824 words long, and even though they introduce an obviously significant chapter which itself begins an entire section of his book, he did not realize that he himself had not written those paragraphs? A man of his acumen didn’t realize that? Boy, that must have been some sloppy reading! It must have been a reading that was neither diligent nor competent, two qualities vastly lacking in America today. ...

"But beyond the issues of diligence and competence implicated by Ogletree’s statements, additional questions are also raised by what is said to have happened. Ogletree says the mistake happened in "the final editing process." So let me get this straight: in the "final editing process" ..., assistants ... were finalizing and adding significant chunks of material? And not just any material, but material that introduced a chapter which itself was the initial part of a section of the book? This was being done by assistants? In the final editing process? Doesn’t all this raise the question of who the hell really wrote this book which, or at least wrote portions of this book which, in Ogletree’s words, "carries my name." Doesn’t it raise, that is, the very same issue of honesty discussed earlier?

"Moreover, doesn’t the same question of who really wrote portions of the book arise from what may be very clever wording in Ogletree’s web posting? Ogletree doesn’t say "When I reviewed the revised draft, I did not realize that I was not the author of this material." Such a statement would of course imply that he was the author of the rest of the material in the book. But rather than say that, Ogletree said "When I reviewed the revised draft I did not realize that this material was authored by Professor Balkin." ... Well, how in hell was Ogletree supposed to know that Balkin authored the material (unless Ogletree is claiming that he read Balkin’s book and has a near photographic memory)? Ogletree’s wording smacks of being too clever by half. It smacks of wanting to cover up the fact that he knew and expected that parts of his book were written by others -- by assistants -- and that the problem here was that he assumed the six paragraphs had been written by an assistant while being unaware that they had actually been written by someone wholly unconnected with him. I cannot say whether this logic is true in fact, but it is certainly plausible, and it further stokes the question of who did write portions of this book."

September 10 "Velvel on National Affairs" (law school Dean Lawrence Velvel’s weblog)
(commentary on Dean Velvel’s post by Michael Parenti, Ph.D in political science, Yale University) ("There is another critique one might suggest about the Ogletree case: his explanation is totally lacking in credibility. ... What do the assistants have to say about this? Which assistants? Did they really just stick a long selection from Balkin onto the opening of this crucial chapter with only a citation and without proper indentation or quotation marks? And how did the citation get removed? Why would ‘the pressure of meeting a deadline’ (what crap, as if this were a live network show about to go on the air in 10 seconds) cause the second assistant to delete the Balkin citation? ... Why would deadline pressure make you start deleting your endnotes? It seems to me that until we hear from the assistants we cannot conclude for certain that (a) Ogletree has other people write his stuff for him, or (b) that Ogletree’s story is just a smokescreen, a way of distancing himself from the fact that he plagiarized Balkin. But I am inclined toward (b) because his explanation sounds like just so much dissembling.")

September 10, "In the Right Direction" (weblog of Keith Urbahn, sophomore at Yale)
("Editing mistakes? Whether intentional or not, ‘lifting a passage’ is called plagiarism. Too bad the AP and The Boston Globe don’t have the guts to call it that.")

see also comment by "THB," at

("After the Cornel West incident, there is no way Larry Summers is going call a prominent African-American faculty member on the carpet. This is an opportune moment for another famous university to work the back channel and ‘lure’ Ogletree away. The bigger issue is how not only the teaching but the writing done at major universities is often the work of graduate students. Ogletree – and many other Harvard profs – will continue to garner seven-figure advances for putting their names on books written by others. The grad student who is responsible for not writing and proofreading Ogletree’s book carefully enough is dead professionally. I’ll bet Ogletree’s assistants are desparately trying to shift blame to each other right now.")

September 11, "Boston Globe":
(David Mehegan) (interpreting the statement released by Ogletree (after attempts to reach him were unsuccessful) as stating "he had read over the Balkin text" contained in the draft of his own book "and hadn't realized it was not his own writing"; quoting Columbia University provost: "it is inconceivable to me that I would ever allow a research assistant to alter a manuscript")

September 12, "Airing of Grievances" (weblog)
("Jackie Chiles") ("Oops! Professor Charles Ogletree has released a statement apologizing for plagiarism in his recently released book ‘All Deliberate Speed.’ According to Ogletree, the ‘errors were avoidable and preventable, and I take full and complete responsibility for all of them.’ Despite taking such responsibility, in the very next paragraph he lays the blame pretty squarely on his two research assistants. Honorable stuff. In any event, a very unfortunate turn of events for The Tree. All that work to establish your good name and then just like that it’s significantly tarnished. ... When I first heard the news I thought, ‘Wow, sucks to be those research assistants, they really did this man a disservice.’ But then I passed the news onto Mama Chiles, a retired English Professor, and she said, ‘No excuses. Totally unacceptable. That’s what so many of these people do. Overwhelm their assistants and take all the credit for themselves. This time he got his just dues.’")

September 13, "Harvard Crimson":
(Stephen M. Marks) (reporting "Ogletree told The Crimson that he had not read the passage of Balkin's book that appears in his own work"; reporting "Ogletree said he was closely involved in most of the drafting of the book"; quoting e-mail from Ogletree research assistant apparently threatening libel suit if there is "any speculation that anyone knew of the repetition of Professor Balkin's material beforehand").

September 13, "Harvard Crimson":
(editorial, "What Academia is Hiding") ("For every Harvard student, the charge of plagiarism could prove fatal to one’s undergraduate career. From the outset, students are forewarned of the College’s daunting zero-tolerance discipline policy; that is, whether inadvertent or otherwise, according to the student handbook, plagiarism of any sort ‘will ordinarily result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to requirement to withdraw from the College.’ But it seems that this stringent policy – aimed to ensure sincere and scrupulous scholarship – does not extent to members of Harvard’s Faculty. ... Last week, Ogletree admitted that six paragraphs of his book – nearly two pages of text – had been lifted from the work of Yale Law School professor Jack M. Balkin, after the latter author was anonymously informed that Ogletree’s work should be investigated. ... Ogletree maintains that the text’s inclusion was an oversight due, in part, to strict deadlines and a strong reliance on research assistants. Neither defense is excusable. ... Ogletree’s transgression is a serious one – one that would likely result in expulsion for a Harvard undergraduate. That Ogletree will not face anything remotely this severe reveals the glaring disparity in Harvard’s plagiarism policies – and the different scholarly standards it holds for its students and Faculty. ... [Ogletree’s transgression] not only leaves a blemish on the renowned professor’s resume and reveals a ludicrous double standard, it is also indicative of an alarming trend currently threatening the legitimacy of the work of those in academia; that is, the extensive use of research assistants and students .... When the author himself does not recognize that a text of two pages is not his own, something is amiss. ... The bottom line remains that had a Harvard student committed such a grievous error, intentionally or not, the College would likely turn a deaf ear to any excuses – particularly any that involve an over-reliance on paid assistants to do their research and writing for them. If Harvard is not willing to hold its Faculty to the same high scholarly standards as it does its students, then perhaps it should rethink its undergraduate plagiarism policy and do away with the charade of irreproachable academic integrity.")

September 13, "The Volokh Conspiracy"
("Juan Non-Volokh") ("Prof Ogletree 'did not realize it was not his material'? Does this mean he did not realize the words were not his own -— in which case his research assistants were taking liberties with his manuscript -— or did he simply not realize it was the work of someone other than his research assistants. If the latter, which I believe is the more likely reading of the above, then Ogletree did plan to publish the words of others under his own name. ... [I]s this the appropriate standard of scholarship for a tenured law professor? At Harvard? Perhaps I have an old fashioned perspective on these sorts of things, but I am disturbed by the idea of tenured professors at prestigious institutions using research assistants to draft portions of their scholarly work.").

September 14, "The Buck Stops Here" (Weblog of Stuart Buck, Harvard Law School J.D. 2000; editor of Law Review)
("the problem that Bottum [author of the Weekly Standard article] identifies is real, quite apart from the plagiarism involved. … [F]or scholars, the act of producing their own scholarly work is one of the two main responsibilities of their jobs (the other being teaching). When a scholar at a university puts his name to a book or article, no one thinks (or ought to be justified in thinking), ‘Well, he's awfully busy, and he's probably just putting out words that someone else wrote; but at least he agrees with what other people have written for him.’")

September 14, "Velvel on National Affairs" (law school Dean Lawrence Velvel’s weblog)
(commentary on Dean Velvel’s post by Professor Laurence H. Tribe, Harvard Law School, a friend and colleague of Ogletree) (declining to defend Ogletree on the specifics of his plagiarism of Balkin and his use of ghostwriters, stating: "I don’t see it as my place either to offer excuses for my colleagues’ and friends’ missteps or to pile on them when the world is already heaping calumny upon them"; also expressing his agreement with Dean Velvel’s assessment of the importance of the systemic issues for academia raised by the ghostwriting issue, stating: "As to the larger problem you describe – the problem of writers ... passing off work of others as their own – I think you’re focusing on a phenomenon of some significance.")

September 14, "Rasmusen’s Not-Politics Weblog" (weblog of Eric Rasmusen, Ph.D, economics professor, Indiana University)
("Via Volokh, The Weekly Standard tells us that Prof. Charles Ogletree of Harvard Law doesn’t even read what’s published under his own name, assembled by his research assistants. ... It looks like affirmative action strikes again, in this case aided perhaps by the bad influence of judges who rely on clerks. Or maybe Ogletree has spent time in government, where one of the rules for top bureaucrats is, ‘Never write anything you sign and never sign anything you write.’ Academia is not like that, so Harvard should bounce him down to Washington.")

September 14, "The Baseball Crank" (weblog)
("Juan non-Volokh notes a slap on the wrist for plagiarism on the part of Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree; apparently his research assistants slapped a chunk of some work from Jack Balkin into a book Ogletree was doing on the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Joseph Bottum of The Weekly Standard is appalled that having your research assistants cobble together other people’s ideas on the central area of your expertise is considered scholarship.")

September 14, "Point of Law" (weblog)
(Walter Olson) ("Exploiting others’ labor, indeed. It turns out Harvard Law School’s Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., high oracle of the reparations litigation movement, grabs great chunks of other people’s writing and passes it off as his own.")

September 14, "The Corner on National Review Online" (weblog)
(Roger Clegg, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division) ("HARVARD LAW SCHOOL’S JAYSON BLAIR? Eye-opening item in the current issue of the Weekly Standard about how Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree ‘inadvertently,’ ‘under pressure of a deadline,’ copied out of one book on Brown v. Board of Education into his own book on Brown. Except it’s really much worse than that: Ogletree wasn’t even writing the book he authored – he was having his assistants write it, or, rather, he was having them copy and then paraphrase the work of other authors.")

September 14, "The Volokh Conspiracy"
(Fabio Rojas, Ph.D, University of Chicago, 2003) ("During grad school, I discovered ... that a lot of scholars are "Bureaucrats" .... This kind of scholar is more like an architect – he designs the overall project, but an army of helpers puts together the final project. ... [N]ow I realize a lot of famous names only produce their quantity because they rely to heavily on assistants. I was shocked to find out that a legal scholar whose work I respect writes a fairly small amount of his later work. He often hires brilliant grad/law students to do most of the leg work and then he assembles the products into his larger manuscripts. It's simply impossible to write a book every other year, fly around the world, teach classes, be a consultant and satisfy your university service requirements without a lot of help. Given that's a path to success, I'm not surprised that the work becomes sloppy very quickly. Scholars barely have time to closely monitor every product they produce. Not every highly productive scholar is that way, but more of them operate that way than we'd admit.")

For a somewhat provocative thought experiment offered by a college English professor who was struck by Ogletree's self-professed inability to recognize that the three pages he plagiarized from Jack Balkin were not his own writing, see:
(post of 9/11, 7:08 a.m.)

For a discussion of the systemic issues for universities raised by the Ogletree story, see "Plagiarism, a Misplaced Emphasis," by Brian Martin, Ph.D, published in the Journal of Information Ethics, Vol. 3, No. 2, Fall 1994, pp. 36-47, and reprinted here:
http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/94jie.html (pointing out the need to focus on "the vast amount of institutional plagiarism, including ghostwriting and attribution of authorship to bureaucratic elites," and the importance of "exposing and challenging the institutionalized varieties" of plagiarism)

For other coverage of the Ogletree story see






The law school dean has not yet issued a statement on this matter, nor evidently granted any interviews. Thus there is not yet any explanation or defense from her of the handling of the investigation into Ogletree’s plagiarism, particularly regarding the five-month delay in announcing anything about it during which Ogletree was allowed to attend commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, and go on television, to actively promote his book, pretending it was solely his work. Compare the dean’s cooperation with press inquiries into seemingly less vital issues such as interior decorating, even as recently as September 16, thirteen days after news of Ogletree’s plagiarism finally broke:









The Ogletree plagiarism (both the lifting of the pages from Balkin’s book, and the more fundamental plagiarism of Ogletree taking credit for work written by law students) occurred even after extensive coverage of the past two Harvard plagiarism scandals, suggesting the reaction to those two scandals has been insufficient to deter Harvard scholars from engaging in scholarly misconduct that would force the withdrawal of a student.

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(This is the summary of the Dershowitz plagiarism story contained in our e-mail of September 16, 2004, slightly edited in response to helpful suggestions from a professor who commented on the e-mail.)

The second Harvard plagiarism story was broken in September 2003 and involves Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz. It concerns his 2003 book, "A Case For Israel" in which, according to one reviewer, Professor Dershowitz engages in an "orgy of plagiarism," committing "wholesale, unacknowledged looting" of research from an earlier book addressing the same subject. (

Specifically, it has been reported that 22 of the 52 endnotes to the first two chapters of Professor Dershowitz’s book were lifted straight from a 1984 book by Joan Peters, "From Time Immemorial," without attribution. These 22 endnotes contain not just the citations from Peters’ footnotes, but also extensive quotations from the cited sources set forth in Peters’ footnotes.

Professor Dershowitz’s response to these reports was, at least initially, to say he had done nothing even remotely questionable. Among other things, he represented that while writing the book he had independent knowledge of the underlying sources based on his earlier research, and he stated it was hardly surprising he and Peters would cite some commonly consulted sources. In the radio interview in which he first confronted the charges, Professor Dershowitz stated that while he of course had read Peters’ book, which "anybody writing a book on the Middle East would" do, he had also read "independently probably 30 or 40 other books which use the same quotes, they’re very extensively used . . . ." http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4825.htm
. Professor Dershowitz also accused his critics of being ideologically opposed to him and made various ad hominem attacks on them.

These ad hominem attacks apparently backfired, energizing Professor Dershowitz’s critics and leading them to investigate further. Ultimately Professor Dershowitz’s claim that he’d done nothing wrong, but had merely cited some commonly consulted sources which he’d found in 30 or 40 other books, sources which Peters had happened also to cite, was challenged with what his critics characterized as "smoking gun" evidence obtained from a reviewer of Professor Dershowitz’s book. This reviewer had kept the advance uncorrected proofs he’d been sent by the publisher, and the reviewer forwarded them to the scholar who had first noticed Professor Dershowitz’s plagiarism, Norman Finkelstein.

These advance uncorrected proofs contained Professor Dershowitz’s own handwritten note to a research assistant directing her to copy Peters’ footnotes into the manuscript of his own book. The note read: "Holly Beth: cite sources of pp. 160, 485, 486 [of Peters’ book], fns 141-45." Only after these advance uncorrected proofs were discovered to be in the hands of his critics did Professor Dershowitz then assert that the advance uncorrected proofs actually supported his claim of innocence, which raises the question why he did not produce them earlier. (See http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=11&ar=5 (Dershowitz letter and Cockburn reply)) It would seem plausible to assume Professor Dershowitz would not have initially denied lifting Peters’ footnotes, and would not have stated he just happened to find the same commonly cited sources in 30 or 40 other books he’d read, if he had realized his publisher had sent to book reviewers advance uncorrected proofs containing what his critics characterize as "smoking gun" evidence in his own handwriting proving Dershowitz's initial statements false.

Further evidence that Professor Dershowitz lied in an effort to cover up his plagiarism, his critics argue, can be found in the fact that the footnotes in Peters’ book contain some mistakes in the quotations and citations, and use ellipses in the quotations, and the very same mistakes and ellipses appear in the endnotes of Professor Dershowitz’s book – proving, his critics argue, that they were simply copied verbatim from Peters’ book, and Professor Dershowitz didn’t even check the original sources to see whether the quotations and citations to them in Peters’ book were accurate. (See

For background concerning the Dershowitz plagiarism story, see:


















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(This is the summary of the Goodwin plagiarism story contained in our e-mail of September 16, 2004, lightly edited, and including a few more links which have been suggested since our e-mail.

One link in particular we have added is to an item which now takes on new significance because of the charges of scholarly misconduct recently made against Professor Laurence Tribe. The link is to Professor Tribe's defense of Professor Goodwin in a letter to the editor which appeared in the Harvard Crimson on March 18, 2002. See here: http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=180631. For criticisms of Professor Tribe's letter, see here: http://slate.msn.com/?id=2063299, and here: http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=180706 (to the best of our knowledge, Professor Tribe has never answered these criticisms). The Weekly Standard article on Professor Tribe (which we discuss above, here: http://authorskeptics.blogspot.com/2004/09/professor-laurence-tribe.html) relies heavily (especially in its next-to-last paragraph) on Professor Tribe's letter defending Professor Goodwin. See here:

The first Harvard plagiarism story broke in January 2002. It involves Doris Kearns Goodwin, a former Harvard history professor and a member of its Board of Overseers until she was forced off the Board after the Harvard Crimson called for her resignation because of the plagiarism story. She also resigned her position on the board that awards the Pulitzer Prizes. The story was broken by the Weekly Standard.

Although initially limited in scope, after a number of months other investigations into Professor Goodwin’s work, including one conducted by the LA Times, confirmed the Weekly Standard’s findings and uncovered other instances of plagiarism in at least two of Professor Goodwin’s best-selling history books, written while she was a Harvard professor, including one for which she received a Pulitzer Prize.

Professor Goodwin’s explanation for the plagiarism involved faulty note taking habits, not just on her part, but on the part of four research assistants who help write her books. These faulty note taking habits made it difficult, she explained, for them to distinguish between notes containing their own analysis and notes summarizing analysis they find in books written by others.

For background on the Goodwin plagiarism story see:



















http://www.thelaf.com/news/2002/03/14/News/Last-Years.Commencement.Speaker.Admits.To.Plagiarism.By.Noah.Goldstein-217639.shtml (free registration required)





















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