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

Thursday, March 31, 2005

More on Harvard Law School parody -- and Tribe e-mail

We have received a very helpful e-mail from a student in Professor Tribe's constitutional law class, supplying us with a copy of Professor Tribe's e-mail to his class which was lampooned in the Harvard parody blog mentioned in our last post, here. It provides useful background for understanding the launch of the "Harvard Parody" blog, which we mention in an update yesterday here (bottom of post on parody).

The e-mail was sent on the evening of March 14, and read:
I'm told the parody, which I had hoped to see with my wife on Saturday evening but had to miss, contained some pretty funny stuff about me. The only thing I've heard that I wish I could comment on but don't feel free to say anything about just yet is the business of my supposedly copying some passages from somebody else's work without sufficiently crediting the original author. Because you ought to care about such things, especially when they involve your own professors, I wouldn't blame you for wanting to know more about the matter. Hopefully, I'll be free to satisfy whatever curiosity you might have about it before the semester ends.
-- Larry Tribe
We find it quite surprising that a public intellectual of Professor Tribe's stature would remain silent for months while journalists and other academics (most notably, Dean Velvel) pressed him for an explanation of how passages from another scholar's book ended up in his own book, but then would break his silence in response to a student-performed parody. Plainly it seems that more parodies on this subject are in order!

Sadly, the student informs us that, to try to deflect attention from this matter Professor Tribe actually joked about the parody in the next day's class session. Tribe apparently said that the reason he had to miss the parody was that he had received a couple of Nobel Prizes over the weekend, and he'd also been hit with a lawsuit by Steven Spielberg claiming  that Tribe's most recent book, "Saving  Private Ryan," somehow infringed on a movie Spielberg had done. The student indicated that these comments struck most students as odd, even pathetic, especially when combined with Tribe's e-mail indicating that he was unwilling to explain in simple terms exactly how parts of Professor Abraham's book somehow found their way into Tribe's book.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Harvard Law School Parody

In a fascinating development, Harvard Law School students in a recent annual parody production included a song parodying Professors Tribe and Ogletree for their plagiarism. Indeed, the students seem so intent on using humor to spotlight the plagiarism issue that they recently released an audio of the song, and the lyrics, to both Howard Bashman of the "How Appealing" blog, and
The Weekly Standard, which as you may recall last September published one of the first articles on Professor Ogletree's plagiarism (our coverage of that and other stories can be found here), and then broke the news about Professor Tribe's plagiarism of Professor Abraham.

(Hat tip: Howard Bashman was the first to cover this development, here, when he linked to the audio of the song, "I'm Larry Tribe," which can be found here. Shortly thereafter, he posted the full lyrics to the song here.)

The song is hilarious in its depiction of Professor Tribe's plagiarism and his downfall as a result of coverage of Professor Ogletree's plagiarism, which then prompted the tip about Professor Tribe's own plagiarism after Professor Tribe had the temerity to comment on Dean Velvel's blog about the significant problem of some scholars passing off others' work as their own (see Sept. 29, 2004, e-mail from Joseph Bottum at the end of this post). We think the song is a good illustration of our comment last October, following Judge Posner's joke about the plagiarism scandals during a trip to Harvard Law School, and following a similar joke by Professor Brian Leiter, that if the professors involved and the administration will not candidly face this issue, at least the rest of us can have a bit of fun, and try to keep the spotlight on the issue, by joking about it (see here, under both our introductory comments about Professor Tribe and under the item dated Oct. 19, 2004).

For the brief item in
The Weekly Standard mentioned by Mr. Bashman, see here.

If any reader saw the parody production and has any additional information or comments for us, please let us know. We will do our best to reach out to various students, in particular the writers of the parody production, for comment, either on or off the record.

UPDATE (3/30)

Browsing through our referral logs, we just noticed what appears to be a further effort by Harvard Law School students to publicize their parody of Professors Tribe and Ogletree, through a new "Harvard Parody" blog, located at harvardparody.blogspot.com.

The person(s) behind it go by the pseudonym "Frumpy the HLS Clown," who apparently is some sort of unofficial mascot of the Harvard Law School Drama Society which does the law school parody production each year. It's unclear to us whether "Frumpy" is an actual student at the law school, like the student who writes "Fenno" for the law school newspaper, or just a character who has appeared in past productions; perhaps someone could clarify this for us. We will also try to contact "Frumpy" at the e-mail address listed on the blog (revengeoftheclown@hotmail.com), and we will report anything we learn.

We thank "Frumpy" for the several links to our blog. We will try to return the favor by covering any further developments on the Harvard Parody blog, at least regarding plagiarism at Harvard. To date, at least based on a quick check of search engines mentioning the blog, it appears to have received little attention, perhaps due to its rather over-the-top, overtly mean-spirited tone (which is evidently an aspect of the "Frumpy the HLS Clown" persona, or perhaps a parody of that persona) which may make bloggers reluctant to link to it. As for us, if it relates to plagiarism at Harvard, we have no such reluctance!

For the brief mentions of the Harvard Parody blog to date, see:

The post of Harvard law student Amber Taylor on the blog, and her update denying she is "Frumpy," here.

The humorous post of lawyer Tom Veal, here.

Two minor posts, here and here.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

National Review article on Professor Tribe

About a month ago the National Review published an article on Professor Laurence Tribe which took as its predicate Professor Tribe's own
2002 letter to The Harvard Crimson defending Doris Kearns Goodwin
against the plagiarism charges brought against her (for more background on the Goodwin case, see here).

In his letter, Professor Tribe distinguished Goodwin's case as much less serious than that of other scholars (evidently referring to scholars such as Joseph Ellis) "who have been caught falsifying as fact what was, in truth, fantasy — either about their own lives or about the events they were chronicling," and he stated that "purveying false or misleading information" is "the cardinal sin for any scholar."

According to the National Review article, Tribe himself committed this "cardinal sin" in 2003 in an essay about his first U.S. Supreme Court argument.

The article is by
National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru and is entitled: "How to Be a Hero of Liberty." It appeared in the print edition dated March 14, 2005, and first appeared online February 25, 2005. An electronic copy is available online here.

The essay by Professor Tribe discussed in the article, which appeared in the
Green Bag legal journal in 2003, is available online as a PDF file (courtesy of Legal Affairs) here: Part 1 and Part 2.

There has been a considerable amount of blog commentary concerning the National Review article, both pro and con, since it came out, but we have refrained from posting anything on this subject out of a desire to give Professor Tribe the benefit of the doubt until we have an opportunity to see both his reply letter in the National Review and Ponnuru's reply to that letter, which
according to Ponnuru are due out in the next issue. We hope that the National Review will make Professor Tribe's letter and Ponnuru's reply freely available on its website, just as was the original article, so everyone interested will be able to fully evaluate the exchange and draw their own conclusions.

We will update this post once links to the letter and reply become available. We will then try to do an a chronological listing of all known links to Internet-available material concerning this story. We may also take the relatively rare step (for us) of editorializing on this topic, as we believe much of the commentary to date dwells on minor details and on the motives of those on both sides, and does not get to the heart of the issue concerning Professor Tribe's 2003
Green Bag essay: namely, whether it meets the standards Professor Tribe himself laid down for judging other scholars, in his 2002 letter to The Crimson regarding Goodwin.

UPDATE (3/29)

National Review has now published Professor Tribe's letter to the editor, and Ramesh Ponnuru's reply, and they are freely available online here. (Hat tip: Howard Bashman, "How Appealing")

We plan to post further on the
National Review article, time permitting.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Plagiarism on a Harvard professors' webpage

It now appears from
this Harvard Crimson article that Harvard professors are branching out to committing plagiarism on Internet websites. Seriously, this incident does not appear to reflect any misconduct by the professors themselves, but it should not pass without comment -- at least not on a blog devoted to plagiarism at Harvard!