In the Press: Ruth Speaks to WBUR About Allegations of Plagiarism Against Harvard President Claudine Gay

Ruth O'Meara-Costello

I spoke to Boston radio station WBUR this week about allegations that Harvard President Claudine Gay’s past work contained numerous instances of inadequate or missing citations. As Ruth discusses in WBUR’s story, Harvard disciplines its students for similar errors all the time, regardless of whether the errors are intentional. While Harvard does generally consider intent and level of culpability in choosing a penalty, any disciplinary history can be a significant problem, especially for students who intend to pursue further education after college.

Many students are surprised to realize that even unintentional missing citations or quotation marks will be considered plagiarism and may subject them to discipline—but that is the case at nearly all colleges. Harvard’s policy, for example, states that “Quotations must be placed properly within quotation marks and must be cited fully. In addition, all paraphrased material must be acknowledged completely.” If these standards are not met, discipline may be imposed: “Students who, for whatever reason, submit work either not their own or without clear attribution to its sources will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including requirement to withdraw from the College.” (emphasis added). While a requirement of withdrawal is extremely unlikely for errors that a student can convincingly show were unintentional, any discipline, as noted above, can affect their future. If you or your child is facing discipline for alleged academic dishonesty, request a consultation today.


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