More Harvard plagiarism.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Sept. 28 2004 3:02 PM

More Harvard Plagiarism

What is it with these superstar profs?

Various pressing duties have kept me from giving the latest plagiarism scandals at Harvard the attention they deserve. As with the plagiarism scandal involving Doris Kearns Goodwin, the new scandals were uncovered by the Weekly Standard. The newest inductees to Harvard's Plagiarism Hall of Fame are Charles Ogletree and Laurence Tribe, both of whom came out with their hands up. (Click here for Ogletree's mea culpa, and here for Tribe's.) The Tribe revelation is especially damaging because this past June Harvard designated him "University Professor," an honorific bestowed on a mere 19 faculty all-stars that comes, presumably, with a fat raise. Nice going, Larry! The Harvard Crimson's editorial page is up in arms about the disparity between how Harvard treats undergraduate plagiarists (very harshly) and how it treats faculty plagiarists (very leniently):

If Harvard is not willing to hold its Faculty to the same high scholarly standards as it does its students, then perhaps it should rethink its undergraduate plagiarism policy and do away with the charade of irreproachable academic integrity.

Right on. If you want to keep track of this story, I recommend the new Harvard Plagiarism Archive. I don't know who runs it ("We're castaways on an uncharted desert isle, no phone, no lights … just a T1 connection," its proprietors informed me, unhelpfully), but it's pretty thorough. Two questions, though:

1) Aren't there any conservative professors at Harvard who commit plagiarism? (Over to you, Weekly Standard.)

2) Don't they have any faculty plagiarists at Yale?

[Update, Sept. 29, 2004: Several readers urged me to check out an article in the Sept. 28 Yale Daily News about the claim by Dorothy Otnow Lewis, a professor at Yale's Child Study Center, that passages from Frozen, a Tony-nominated Broadway play, were identical to Lewis' own words as quoted in a New Yorker profile by Malcolm Gladwell and that certain other passages paraphrased parts of her own memoir, Guilty By Reason of Insanity. (At least ostensibly, the play is not about Lewis.) The article further pointed out that the passage copied into Ogletree's book came from a book by Yale law professor Jack Balkin. These two examples suggested to readers that Yale professors don't plagiarize; they get plagiarized from.]

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Doris Kearns Goodwin Plagiarism Archive:
Nov. 13, 2003: Historians Rewrite History
April 9, 2002: Goodwin, McTaggart, and That Book Review
March 18, 2002: Goodwin's Tribe
March 4, 2002: The Many Boards of Doris Kearns Goodwin
Jan. 28, 2002: How To Curb the Plagiarism Epidemic
Jan. 22, 2002: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Liar

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