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

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Weekly Standard on Professor Tribe: "Guilty as Charged"

The Weekly Standard, in its issue dated May 9, 2005, has a brief update on the plagiarism story about Professor Tribe it broke last September (for our initial reports on that, see here and here), entitled: "Ill-behaved senators and Laurence Tribe."

It is available online here. Because the item is so short, we will simply reprint it here for the convenience of our readers:
Laurence Tribe Postscript

We neglected to note last week that Harvard president Larry Summers and law school dean Elena Kagan finally released the official findings of their investigation into the plagiarism charges against their distinguished colleague Laurence Tribe, first aired in these pages by Joseph Bottum. Guilty as charged. For more, much more, on the nuances of their report, visit the "Harvard Plagiarism Archive" at authorskeptics.blogspot.com.
By "guilty as charged," we assume The Weekly Standard is referencing the detailed analysis by Mr. Bottum of passage after passage of Professor Tribe's book obviously copied by someone straight out of Professor Abraham's book, with some minor rewording apparently reflecting an effort to obscure the plagiarism involved. To the best of our knowledge, neither Professor Tribe nor anyone else has defended as proper the copying of even one of the passages involved, or has tried to explain the similarities between the books as the result of anything but a process of copying straight from Professor Abraham's book. So in this respect, "guilty as charged" seems an apt observation.

As Dean Velvel has suggested, and as we have asserted even more directly than he, we do not think Harvard has concluded Professor Tribe is "guilty as charged" of personally doing this copying from Professor Abraham's book.We think Harvard's finding that Professor Tribe was guilty only of "inadvertence" is tenable only on the view that Professor Tribe's defense was, "my ghostwriter did it."

The problem with this basis for finding Professor Tribe did not intentionally do anything wrong is that it dumbs down academic standards of integrity and honesty. As Dean Velvel has persuasively argued, Harvard's finding that no deliberate wrongdoing was involved therefore must mean (assuming much of the book was written for Professor Tribe by a ghostwriter, something he has not denied since the the Weekly Standard story, and which he could easily deny if it were not true) that Harvard's top officials see no deliberate wrongdoing in a professor making undisclosed use of students to write her or her books or articles. As Dean Velvel suggests, this, in turn, suggests that the Harvard officials who made this finding themselves have used ghostwriters in their own work.

Recently the Weekly Standard also had a brief mention of the Harvard Law School student parody of Professor Tribe which we blogged about here. We have some additional information about the parody and other topics which we will try to blog about later in May.

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