Plagiarism Accusations Unfairly Characterized

CORRECTION APPENDED

To the editors:

In her comment, “One Week Later” (Apr. 28), Lauren Schuker wrote that I “recently stood accused…of academic dishonesty.” The crucial fact that Schuker fails to mention is that I was innocent of that politically motivated charge and was so found after a thorough investigation, which I requested. Several distinguished individuals who examined the accusations—including former Dartmouth President James O. Freedman, former Solicitor General Charles Fried, and the head of the Harvard Law School library Harry S. Martin ’65—also dismissed them as baseless.

The charges were part of a politically motivated campaign by a hard-left, anti-Israel academic who was falsely charging “plagiarism” against me and several other pro-Israel writers. The false charge was that I found several quotations—by Mark Twain, Lord Peel, and others—in a secondary source, but cited them to the primary sources in which they originally appeared. That is the citation method approved by The Chicago Manual of Style. Moreover, I cited the secondary source eight times and was using several of the quotes years before the secondary source was even published. I can document highly visible anti-Israel writers who have done exactly the same thing I was accused of doing, but were never accused of plagiarism by my biased accuser.

Plagiarism is a serious charge. It should not be trivialized by failing to distinguish those who are innocent of it from those who have admitted to it.


ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ

Cambridge, Mass.

May 1, 2006

The writer is the Frankfurter Professor of Law.


CORRECTION

The May 5 letter to the editor "Plagiarism Accusations Unfairly Characterized" by Alan M. Dershowitz, Frankfurter Professor of Law, incorrectly implied that Harry S. Martin '65, the Ess Librarian of Harvard Law School, dismissed charges of academic dishonesty against Dershowitz as "baseless." While Martin says he has validated the acceptability of certain methods of citation that Dershowitz used in his book Chutzpah, he says he has not attempted any comprehensive review of the work.