It seems that Monica Crowley may have plagiarized a substantial portion—amounting to “thousands of words”—of her doctoral dissertation.
According to Politico:
An examination of the dissertation and the sources it cites identified more than a dozen sections of text that have been lifted, with little to no changes, from other scholarly works without proper attribution. In some instances, Crowley footnoted her source but did not identify with quotation marks the text she was copying directly. In other instances, she copied text or heavily paraphrased with no attribution at all.
Plagiarism is a bad thing, a deception that goes to the heart of a person’s integrity and his or her academic capabilities as well. It’s not uncommon, either, for a fairly well-respected public person to be accused of it—for example, Doris Kearns Goodwin, a liberal writer, historian, and pundit who defended herself by citing sloppy research methods.
And indeed, it really could be sloppy research methods—but that’s not okay, either. Although it can be quite difficult to differentiate a disingenuous intent to deceive from a negligent carelessness, both are bad and reflect poorly on the author, albeit in different ways.
I don’t know which it is with Crowley. But over a thousand words is a lot of words, not just a phrase or a sentence. It would be helpful, however, to know how many of the “over a thousand” words were offered without any attribution at all, and how many were properly footnoted but not given the necessary quotation marks. That latter offense seems much more likely to be carelessness than the former, although all could be carelessness (which is, as I said, no excuse, but it is generally thought to be a lesser offense than a deliberate lie would be).
I think this should disqualify Crowley for an appointment for her National Security Council job, but if previous experience is any guide Trump may decline to pull her out. She may, of course, decide to withdraw her own name.
I don’t watch that much TV news and therefore don’t know all that much from personal observation of Crowley. But from what I’ve seen she’s obviously smart and quick, so if she plagiarized purposely it wasn’t through lack of brainpower.
Crowley is now in her late forties, and she got her doctorate from Columbia in 2000. That was well after the invention and popularization of the internet, which is an excellent tool for detecting plagiarism. Anyone who had purposely plagiarized anything post-internet is not just dishonest, but foolish. Careless plagiarizing is something different, and could happen to anyone who isn’t OCD-level careful. But “thousands of words” isn’t just one careless error; it’s a pattern, and a bad one at that.
[CLARIFICATION 3:45 PM
Just to clarify—in a response to a question by commenter “The Other Gary”—I want to explain how a person could fail to attribute a quote with quotation marks through carelessness rather than intention. Gary asks how this could happen, with the ease of cut-and-paste.
My answer is that it’s simple, particularly in the days I was a student, prior to the internet. In a dissertation from 2000, it’s not clear at all that most of Crowley’s sources would have been online; probably her sources at the time were regular hard-copy books.
You take notes on index cards for that. Usually, handwritten notes, back in those days. It’s a lot of work, with thousands upon thousands of cards. Direct quotes are different than paraphrases, and must be indicated as such on your handwritten notes. It’s rather easy to slip-up unless you’re very very careful. You might not even be able to read your own hand-writing very well. Or you might have been careless in noting it to begin with.
But it doesn’t resemble cut-and-paste on a computer at all.
None of this is an excuse. Either way, intentional or not, it’s inexcusable.]