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

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Tribe Transgression: Professor Tribe's Statement of April 13, 2005

Here, courtesy of Dean Velvel, is Professor Tribe's statement of April 13, 2005, released April 14, 2005:

April 13, 2005

Statement of Professor Laurence H. Tribe

When a magazine article last fall identified several passages and phrases in my 1985 book, God Save This Honorable Court, that were not properly attributed to Professor Henry Abraham's 1974 book, Justices and Presidents, I reviewed both books in an effort to try to determine what had happened two decades earlier. In a letter I sent at once to Prof. Abraham, I wrote that, while I had singled out his book in a bibliographic note as the "leading political history of Supreme Court appointments," that general acknowledgement was no substitute for more precise attribution. I promptly did the only thing I thought I could do to set things right: I issued a public statement apologizing to Prof. Abraham, acknowledging my lapse and accepting full responsibility for it.

For over six months, I have said nothing further about this 20-year-old error, even as I have seen some mischaracterize it as intentional theft of another's ideas and have watched as my character and integrity have been impugned. I did not think I should comment while President Summers and Dean Kagan reviewed the results of the inquiry they asked President Bok and Professors Knowles and Verba to conduct.

President Summers and Dean Kagan have now issued a joint statement concurring that what I did 20 years ago was a significant lapse in proper academic practice but adding that the unattributed material related more to matters of form than of substance and stating their firm conviction "that the error was the product of inadvertence rather than intentionality."

No statement can erase the fact of my having been less careful than I should have been in my 1985 book, and today I want to reiterate my apology for that error and my assumption of responsibility for it. At the same time, I am gratified that the University's inquiry found no basis for accusations of dishonesty or of intellectual theft. Therefore, like the University, I now consider the matter closed and will not comment further about it.

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