Kirstein Essay Part of Academe Blog Five-Year Retrospective on Finkelstein Tenure Travesty: A Discourse on Scholarship Misconduct

Academe blog has published a series of interviews with Dr Norman Finkelstein and Alan Dershowitz, Harvard professor of law who bullied the former, on the fifth anniversary of the execrable, tenure travesty. I was also honoured to contribute an invited essay for this reflection.* John Wilson edited these entries that appear on the American Association of University Professors blog. He commented on his blog on the issue of scholarship misconduct and quotes accurately from my piece even if arriving at a diametrically different conclusion.

I would invite readers to consult the following pages 234-242 in Finkelstein’s, Beyond Chutzpah. Having perused those pages, it is clear that Dershowitz lifed significant passages and claimed falsely, in my humble opinion, to have consulted many sources. Having published a monograph, and many peer reviewed articles, I am certain that such charges constitute grave acts of scholarly misconduct. If an author in a footnote, uses a source that was not consulted, but taken from another source, that is plagiarism. Plagiarism is when one claims in rhetoric OR in sourcing, work that is not your own. One must credit the author(s) who did the original work. For example, if I use a footnote: Howard Zinn, The Southern Mystique (Cambridge: South End Press, 2002), 45 that was copied from another publication without independently utilising the source that is cited, this would constitute plagiarism. This is not a minor but a major example of academic misconduct. The repeated incidences of such plagiarism hardly mitigate the severity of the act. One must credit scholarship, that is all about obtaining and interpreting sources, of the original author. The cheater did not do the research; the cheater did not consult the source. How dare someone claim otherwise when not the original author?!

One more example. I did research at the National Archives on my monograph on Mexican bracero labour. What if someone cited my primary sources in a publication but never visited the archives? What if someone stole my secondary sources as well, without consulting them and without referencing the original author? This would in my estimation merit a full-scale investigation and possibly lead to severe sanctions ranging from rank demotion, suspension or dismissal. I am assuming all due process and AAUP-suggested faculty peer-review guidelines are adhered to.

HNN has a list of controversial historians. Yes I am included but NOT for cheating and plagiarism. Note this list contains many historians that were sanctioned or charged with committing academic crimes ranging from plagiarsm to falsification of data to claiming an authority they did not possess: fabricating in class having participated in the Vietnam War genocide and Civil Rights Movement (Joseph Ellis). I recently condemned West Point professors for using stolen materials from Usama bin Laden’s home in Pakistan! While they did not presumably plagiarise, they used stolen documents that were illegally acquired through an invasion of a third country. I have condemned the plagiarism of Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard who should have been fired for cheating on his doctoral dissertation, not to mention in all likelihood his master’s thesis as well. I am willing to fight to the bitter end to defend academic freedom and the unfettered right of extramural utterances but will not tolerate unethical conduct when it comes to such matters as research misconduct!

*I WOULD LIKE TO CREDIT JOHN WILSON FOR SOME OF THE LINKS IN MY ESSAY. SOME OF THESE I WILL USE IN A PAPER AND WILL CREDIT MR WILSON FOR THOSE SOURCES THAT I DID NOT INDEPENDENTLY FIND ON MY OWN. I DO NOT NEED TO DO THIS IF I READ AND INDEPENDENTLY CONSULTED THEM. YET HE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROVIDING THEM WITHIN MY AAUP ARTICLE AND AS A MATTER OF COURTESY, HE SHOULD BE CREDITED FOR HIS WORK.

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