Historians rewrite history.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Nov. 13 2003 7:23 PM

Historians Rewrite History

The campaign to exonerate Doris Goodwin.

(Continued from Page 3)

And so on. Goodwin told the Los Angeles Times that "as long as a person is credited" a writer enjoys "leeway to use some of the words. Just using individual words now and then, and when it is clear where it is coming from, that is what paraphrasing is." Wrong. To repeat Harvard's admonition:

If your own sentences follow the source so closely in idea and sentence structure that the result is really closer to quotation than to paraphrase … you are plagiarizing, even if you have cited the source.

Chatterbox doubts this definitional exegesis will be news to Schlesinger, Blum, Dallek, or Wilentz, or to the journalists (David Halberstam, Walter Isaacson, and Evan Thomas) who also signed the letter. But he does hope this ends further debate about whether Doris Goodwin committed plagiarism. Anyone who pretends otherwise is blowing smoke.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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