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

Sunday, September 26, 2004


(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:


















[cc] (see


Musa said...

Sadly to say, but by citing the self hater, misguided and misinformed Norman Finkelstein, the delusional self hater, Democracy Now/Amy Goodman, and the notorious anti-Semite Israel hater Alex Cockburn of CounterPunch, et al, this article lost credibility.

scipio sawtelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh Gilbert said...

What is the person holding a respectable position is caught to be a plagiarizer? It will be better for the writers to beware of using duplicate checker while preparing their academic content, because a little negligence can harm the reputation to a great extent.

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