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, May 02, 2005

AuthorSkeptics spreads the word: our e-mail to the tenured faculty of 13 law schools

To spread the word about the dumbing down of standards for scholarly work by professors being carried out at Harvard (particularly the absence of punishment for professors who hire students to write books for them), and to request comments on this matter, during the past several days we have sent the e-mail reprinted below to several hundred tenured professors at some of the nation’s leading law schools, excluding Harvard Law School:

Columbia Law School
Cornell Law School
Duke Law School
Northwestern University School of Law
NYU School of Law
Stanford Law School
University of California – Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall)
University of Chicago Law School
University of Michigan Law School
University of Pennsylvania Law School
University of Texas at Austin School of Law
University of Virginia School of Law
Yale Law School

We believe there are many other law professors around the nation who likely have an interest in the issues we and Dean Velvel are addressing, and who adhere to standards of scholarly conduct not currently being enforced at Harvard. We would be pleased to hear from anyone who wants to take the trouble to comment. In the coming days we will make an effort to contact selected deans and professors at other law schools, asking them to inform all professors at their law school of this blog.

A main reason for this initial limited e-mailing was that we wanted to quickly achieve a critical mass of comments for this blog, which we thought we could do by e-mailing all the tenured professors (including emeriti, but excluding professors occupying clinical and similar positions who may not have been selected based primarily on their scholarship) at those law schools which can reasonably be considered “top 10” schools in terms of their impact on legal scholarship presently or in the recent past, based on a number of factors, as set out on Professor Brian Leiter’s website and in the perhaps infamous but still influential U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of law schools. Many, perhaps most, law professors attended either one of these schools or Harvard Law School, a main subject of our blog.

There obviously are many fine schools and law professors which have had a considerable impact on legal scholarship that are not on this list and that we have not yet e-mailed. Our aim was merely to identify a core group of law schools whose significant influence on legal scholarship cannot reasonably be questioned, and e-mail the professors at those schools who have tenure and who thus are presumably in a better position than others to speak out about academic standards, even at the risk of upsetting their colleagues at their schools, or at other schools.

Here, then, is the text of the e-mail we sent:

Date <_______________>
From "AuthorSkeptics"
To <_______________>
Subject Dean Velvel, Judge Posner, and Professor Perry on Plagiarism/Ghostwriting/Fraud Issues in Legal Scholarship

Dear Professor:

We have a blog on plagiarism issues at Harvard, http://authorskeptics.blogspot.com.

In an extensive commentary, Dean Lawrence Velvel of the Massachusetts School of Law has recently called for the dismissal of Harvard's current leadership because of what he describes as serious, unpunished intellectual dishonesty at Harvard including, it seems, the undisclosed use of student ghostwriters by at least two members of the Harvard law faculty. We have reprinted Dean Velvel’s commentary, with various links to pertinent material available on the Internet, on our blog here:

For Dean Velvel’s latest statement, issued April 28, see here:

Judge Richard Posner has recently set forth on his blog an explanation of why the undisclosed use by law professors of student ghostwriters poses “an issue of fraud.” We discuss that post on our blog here:

As set forth on our blog, Professor Michael Perry has called the “disgusting double standard” on plagiarism at Harvard “unconscionable” and, noting that a non-celebrity law professor who once plagiarized from him was forced to resign his endowed chair, asks whether celebrity professors like those in the news at Harvard are the new “untouchables.” See here:

We would welcome a statement of your own views on any of the points made by Dean Velvel, Judge Posner, and/or Professor Perry you might wish to address, either in general or as applied to the concrete cases currently in the news at Harvard, or both.

<_______________> law professors have long helped set the standard for legal scholarship in the United States. A statement of your views, and your permission to reprint any such statement on our blog, either with or without your name attached, would be a public service.

We have a strict policy on our blog of not identifying those who e-mail us without their explicit prior consent. You can check with those whose e-mails we have featured on our blog to date (Dean Velvel, Professor Jackson, and Professor Perry) to confirm our trustworthiness in this respect, and the care we take not to identify anyone who writes us, without advance permission.

For a summary of some of our past coverage of the issues currently being debated at Harvard, see:

For a complaint by us about the extent of the stonewalling at Harvard, see:

If you would prefer to comment not via our blog, but via Dean Velvel's blog, which many prominent academics have done on a variety of issues discussed by Dean Velvel, his e-mail address is Velvel@MSLaw.edu. His blog can be found at http://velvelonnationalaffairs.blogspot.com. To post comments on your own blog or webpage, or on the <_______________> website, would be another option. Perhaps <_______________> might set up a webpage for faculty comments or official statements on these matters relating to the scholarly standards for faculty-published work.

We very much hope you and your colleagues will comment on these matters in some forum.




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