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.


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