Thursday, July 24, 2014
Legal writing professors often use prominent examples of plagiarism to warn their students about its dangers and how to avoid plagiarism. (Quick answer: cite whenever you use the words or ideas of others, keep good notes so you can do this, and if you plagiarize your intent doesn't matter.)
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of examples of prominent plagiarism to share with students.
Today's example lands on the FRONT PAGE of the NEW YORK TIMES. Ouch. And ABOVE THE FOLD. Double ouch.
If you can buy a print copy of the New York Times, grab a copy and save it for your classes this fall. You'll be amazed at how much space the newspaper devotes to the story, particularly the almost full page following on page A18.
If you access the electronic copy, you can play the interactive plagiairsm game and see how much of Senator Walsh's paper was plagiarized.
Here's the link: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/23/us/politics/john-walsh-final-paper-plagiarism.html. If that doesn't work, go to the New York Times website and find the story on your own. Jonathan Martin, Senator's Thesis Turns Out to Be Remix of Others' Works, Uncited, N.Y. Times, July 24, 2014, at A1.
Senator Walsh is now 53 years old. According to the New York Times, he wrote the paper when he was a candidate for a Master's Degree from the U.S. Army War College, which he received in 2007 at the age of 46. The newspaper reports that the Army War College is conducting a review to determine if its former student committed plagiarism.
The story is a painful but important lesson for our students. Many of them go on to be elected in political and judicial offices. Something they do in law school can come back years later in their professional careers.