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Harvard Business School Prof. Gino Accused of Plagiarism Following Data Fraud Allegations

Embattled Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino faced multiple allegations of plagiarism in an analysis published by Science Magazine.
Embattled Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino faced multiple allegations of plagiarism in an analysis published by Science Magazine. By Courtesy of Francesca Gino
By Kyle Baek and Benjamin Isaac, Crimson Staff Writers

Embattled Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino was accused of multiple counts of plagiarism in an analysis published in Science Magazine on Tuesday, claims that compound existing allegations of data misconduct against her.

According to Science, Gino “borrowed text” from dozens of academic sources. The plagiarism allegations add to a growing number of academic fraud accusations against Gino, as well as recent scrutiny on the integrity of scholarly work produced by Harvard professors and affiliates.

An initial investigation conducted by Erinn L. Acland, a psychologist at the University of Montreal, and Science Magazine found that a book chapter co-authored by Gino may contain plagiarized text.

The investigation found that the chapter, titled “Dishonesty Explained: What Leads Moral People to Act Immorally,” borrowed extensively from 10 other works, including academic papers and student theses.

After receiving Acland’s analysis, Science used plagiarism detection software to identify 15 other potential instances of plagiarism in Gino’s two books, “Rebel Talent” and “Sidetracked.”

The Science examination revealed additional instances of significant textual overlap in two of her books, with her passages resembling texts from previous news reports, blogs, and academic literature, according to Science.

Andrew T. Miltenberg, Gino’s attorney, wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson that “we will continue to fiercely defend Professor Gino’s integrity against what appears to be an ongoing attempt to slander her reputation.”

“History has shown the peril of premature judgment, particularly within the scientific community, where reputations can be irreparably tarnished,” Miltenberg wrote. “Professor Gino is steadfast in her commitment to uncovering the truth in each instance, responding decisively and correcting the record if necessary.”

The extent of the alleged plagiarism ranges from verbatim copying to more subtle forms of paraphrasing and mimicry.

In one instance, Science found heavily duplicative language between one of Gino’s books and an article published in Reactor Magazine — called at the time — one year prior to the book’s publication.

The new plagiarism allegations join a list of data manipulation claims against Gino. Last June, Data Colada — a data integrity blog run by three business school professors — publicly accused Gino of data manipulation in at least four papers. Gino was subsequently barred from campus, stripped of her endowed faculty title, and notified that her tenure was under review for revocation.

Harvard conducted an internal investigation of the allegations, producing a nearly 1,300-page report that determined Gino was responsible for the alleged misconduct and recommended her termination.

Gino has fiercely maintained her innocence.

The next month, Gino filed a $25 million lawsuit against Harvard and Data Colada, whom she alleges conspired to damage her reputation with false accusations, in addition her claims of gender discrimination by Harvard. The case is currently awaiting its first major ruling, but some have criticized it as a move to silence critics.

Mari K. Ness — the author of the Reactor Magazine article that Gino allegedly plagiarized — wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson that “this is more than one sentence.”

“Rebel Talent extensively uses words and phrases from my article, without crediting me,” she wrote. “Gino never reached out to me for permission to use my words and my thoughts, something that high school students do on a regular basis when asking if they can use my articles for their school assignments.”

Ness said she planned to contact legal counsel about the matter.

“I do, for the record, appreciate the irony that this happened in a book subtitled ‘Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life,’” Ness wrote.

—Staff writer Kyle Baek can be reached at Follow him on X @KBaek53453.

—Staff writer Benjamin Isaac can be reached at Follow him on X @benjaminisaac_1.

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