Thursday, May 29, 2014

Matching vs. Maximizing

A market matches buyers to sellers, mediated by price and quality. It is hard to make sense of an ordinary market if buyers and sellers do not deal in graded items, such as wheat of a certain quality, or paintings of a certain provenance and quality. Of course, you might want that grain of wheat, or that painting, but often you are willing to settle for something quite similar. Otherwise you would not be able to make transactions, since matching would be almost impossible. Presumably you could offer to buy at a much higher price, for just what you want, but usually you settle since the seller might well keep raising the price if the seller felt you would buy "no matter what." Blackmail or Kidnapping.

Matching plays a central role in many markets, and the reason it works is that once we have expressed our interest in particular grades, there are usually many sellers--as long as the grade is not so specific that it eliminates all sellers. Hence, on internet dating/marriage/sex sites, the criteria or the grades that are advertised, by the buyer and the seller, no matter how peculiar, has many buyers or sellers. To be sure of this, you need a very specialized site (ala ChristianMingle) or a very large site (ala  The formal matches will not usually work, since even the most explicit detailed grading almost always has hidden criteria only revealed when a match-mate is right in front of you. claims to provide a lengthy questionnaire making possible more accurate matches, although I do not know if it works well. When you have many job candidates who fulfil all the criteria stated in an ad, you find that there are qualities you had not thought to specify that are decisive. You really won't be satisfied by just by fulfilling the criteria.

On the other hand, if you suspect that there are not many candidates, for a job or for you to marry, you are likely to  bend your criteria to suit what is available, or do without. You might let others choose you ("I want to be with someone who wants to be with me."), although that demands patience and a sense that your criteria or grade will have to depend on the extent of the market--a sensible strategy, and you realize that what to others might seem your compromising, to you it is a way of finding criteria and grades that have at least one available member. Your university, YU, is not very strong, but for whatever reason some people want very much to study at YU. Perhaps they ought be your students.

More to the point, total satisfaction or some such, may well be a matter of matching--not so much maximizing.  We know there is a long tradition of discrimination, where matching (he is of our kind) dominates over excellence.  Because it was bias against other, the costs of such were very high indeed. (Harvard used to have a "happy bottom quarter.")

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Happy Mistakes

Your art teacher might speak of happy mistakes, moves that you thought might work but did not, or perhaps inadvertent literally mistaken scribbles or slashes of color. The question is what you do with what you have made. Some of the time, you get out your eraser or palette knife and clear off the surface. But some of the time, you see possibilities you had not imagined and you go in that direction, perhaps for good results, perhaps not.

Now, it might be that there was an earthquake, or someone passed by and hit your hand, or the materials were not well formulated and did peculiar things. So the mistakes may not be of your doing, but you are nonetheless presented with an unanticipated possibility.

You may not get the job your want (and they have hired the chair's brother), or promotion or tenure are denied--maybe unfairly, or it proves difficult to get your work published and so its difficult to maintain your position. You are doing unrecognizable work, or work that makes people uncomfortable. Or perhaps your work is no good, your personality is discomforting, your methodology is not what is conventionally done.

Namely, you may have made a mistake, others may have pushed you into it, you lose out in a distant battle where you are collateral damages, or perhaps you are not good enough.

There is much to be said for revenge, litigation, starting over, etc. But not enough to make me think that you should spend much energy on what has happened. What you have to do is to figure out how to make the mistakes happier, and in part this is making custard out of spilled milk, or some such. 

Can you find an environment where what you do is what they want? Can you finally pursue your dream of becoming a lawyer, after years of doing mathematics? Can you give up the priesthood for a married life?  Perhaps there is something you do not know that you would love, now made possible by your being kicked out of the nest.

It's disruptive and disturbing, and it is costly and likely emotionally draining. But it may be that the mistake is the avenue to a more productive and better life. It's no fun to say that you did not get tenure at Snooty University, but perhaps at Less-Snooty you pursue your interest in idiosyncratic idiocies and are able to develop a theory that takes your mistake and makes it into a subject.

You may have to give up dreams you did not know you had, to have dreams that you might actually fulfil.

And living well is surely the best revenge. Be gracious and generous to those who have destroyed your life. Be enthusiastic about your new life. No need to rub it in their faces, when in January they are freezing and you are sunning. Or the other way around. If you end up at a foundation giving out grants, you might want to spite them, but it is better to have them on your leash.

You may not succeed as you might have. And the loss might be quite substantial. But you may also find new sources of strength and achievement. 

And perhaps there is no compensation.  But at least you are not in the orbit of the death stars.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Recognition: John Clauser, Gertrude Elion, John Nash. Also, Who gets honorary chairs--the LOQP!

1. John Clauser, a physicist, went to graduate school with me in the mid-1960s. He did the first experiment that tested quantum mechanics in the modern sense, when he was a post-doc at Berkeley in the mid 1970s. (Superposition, coherence, Bell's inequality.) He never secured a tenure-track academic job. His work was then out of the mainstream, and perhaps departments did not see the value of the work. I am sure his letter writers were as distinguished as could be. (Clauser received the  Wolf prize in 2010. But see below.) It’s worth asking how did the physics community reject one of its most innovative own. (That he held positions at national laboratories is not enough, by the way. Your strongest scientists have regular academic positions, if only that they provide bragging rights.)

It's not as if he were Jewish, and it's right after WWII and the chairman of Berkeley's physics department did not hire Richard Feynman since they already had one Jew on the faculty. Another version of the same quote is:

When Oppenheimer recommended a top student, Bob Serber, to be hired, the appointment was blocked by department Chairman Raymond T. Birge, who wrote a colleague saying “one Jew in the department was enough."

Oppenheimer's recommendation of Feynman was not enough: "I may give you two quotations from men with whom he has worked. Bethe has said that he would rather lose any two other men than Feynman from this present job, and Wigner said, 'He is a second Dirac, only this time human.' "

Now, Clauser received the Wolf Prize for his work at Berkeley's Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory) in the 1970s. I gather that he did the experiments on his own, of his own design, using borrowed and otherwise junked equipment (that is, he had no budget, just a paying job). This is quite special for a post-doc. The other recipients have distinguished appointments, and likely had students and assistants and research support (they did their experiments perhaps a decade after Clauser's), and I imagine that their colleagues lobbied for their receiving the Prize, as happens in the case of Nobel Prizes. Such lobbying is quite usual, for the committees solicit letters of recommendation and I imagine they are contacted informally as well. But as far as I can tell, Clauser did not have such colleagues (even among his advisor, his post-doc sponsors, ...). And as far as I can see, when he received the Prize, neither his undergraduate institution, Caltech, nor his doctoral institution, Columbia, nor Berkeley rushed to claim him as one of their own.*
     The archetypal stories concern Gertrude Elion and John Nash. Elion and a colleague at Burroughs-Welcome in Research Triangle Park, NC, won the Nobel in Medicine for the development of AZT. But I guess she was thought not to be the leader, and so she was not then a member of the National Academy of Science; her collaborator was. But the next year, they made sure that she became a member. John Nash, then at Princeton, did outstanding and important difficult and technical work in mathematics early in his career, along with some work on game theory. The game theory work proved central to developments in economics, and the Nobel committee wanted to recognize that. They had two prominent candidates, but the guy who did the earliest work was Nash. Now Nash suffered from schizophrenia, onset in his 20s, and so for most of his career did not have a regular job or do more research. There was no one who benefited from nominating him. (You want to nominate your colleagues or your co-workers.) But the Nobel committee could not award the prize in economics for game theoretical applications unless they included Nash. So they did. And again, Nash was not then a member of the National Academy of Science, but the next year, he was admitted (I think in the economics section, although in fact his professional life was as a mathematician). You can't have such people outside the institutions that are said to include the strongest scientists--and that they had not admitted such people until they were "forced" to is an indictment of the NAS's legitimacy. 

So far, Clauser has not become a member of the NAS, but the Wolf Prize has lower prestige than the Nobel. We'll see what happens.

I gather that Clauser is a straight talking scientist, with definite opinions, and he is not much given to brown-nosing. He may well not be very tactful. But if you do important work, someone would figure that that would trump collegiality questions. And keep in mind that at a place like Chicago's Economics Department or many Russian mathematics departments, he would probably be seen as normal.

*Keep in mind that if X wins an international prize, almost always every institution X has been associated with claims X, to the effect that "we have had N Prize winners who have been our students or faculty." If X was on your faculty, and then moves to another institution and becomes even more eminent, usually the originating institution can't help but talk about how it was with X then on our faculty, or perhaps that he did his most important work at our institution. If X won the Nobel Prize while elsewhere, the new institution cannot help but talk about its Nobel-Prize winner.
2. As for decorum and recognition: I have a former colleague, a professor at a very highly ranked department in his field, who is a member of the NAS, and chaired one of its disciplinary sections for a few years. I was told that there were two scientists who were surely deserving and had worked together, but the nicer guy got in well before the less nice one. He also suggested to me that the recipients of honorary chairs in most departments is usually the least obnoxious qualified person (the LOQP).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Internecine Idiocy

A department or a school is judged as a whole. I often hear canards about one part of a unit by members of other parts. You may not appreciate others' methods and sources, but outsiders do, and those outsiders matter. Research grants flow to most and those grants are competitive. The big fact about the modern American university is that the faculty allies itself with those at other universities in their field or area. It is those external judgments that play a big role in tenure and evaluation.
I am not saying that the canards do not have a basis in fact. But let them be made by others than within your unit. And you don't have to be a cheerleader for all. But you can be a cheerleader for what you do value, and silent about the rest.  This is not about loyalty, rather it is about how the world views your unit.
It makes sense to help your colleagues do stronger work, just because that will help you and your colleagues look better.  Strength is indicated by generosity.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Confidentiality or not in Promotion and Tenure

> I am told that a number of universities make reference letters (suitably redacted for identification) and votes and perhaps committee memos available to the candidate before the dossier is sent to the central administration. Berkeley and Irvine were mentioned, and I once heard Buffalo. Any private institutions?

This is what I have received so far. No privates, so far, except for my own university.  If there is more, I will send it later. What strikes me is that strong universities, here public, seem to be able to make decisions with great transparency—whether that is because they initially appoint only terrific candidates or …  is not clear to me.

By the way, I am told that lots gets informally leaked at various institutions, but I do not know if this is really the case. What seems crucial is that any dissent or support needs to be expressed at the faculty meeting when a case is discussed. Otherwise, quite surprising votes may occur. Keep in mind that deans or chairs cannot discern reasons for negative votes if they have not been expressed at the meeting. Surely, private letters by the faculty to the dean or the provost are permitted and in some institutions are required. So it is not so simple.



At Ohio State, the candidate has the right to review materials at any point in the process after the unit level P&T committee has completed its initial review. Names are not redacted, so the candidate can view the full letters written by the external reviewers. External reviewers are told when invited to write that their letters are subject to the Ohio Open Records Act.  The candidate has response periods at each step of the process, after unit vote, after unit head’s letter, after College P&T committee/Dean’s review, after  University P&T review.
                As the Ohio Open Records Act applies across the state then the same would apply at other Ohio universities.

U of S Florida
Our university does this, and indeed the reference letters are not anonymous.   I had once heard that this stems from the nature of Florida’s Sunshine laws, but honestly I have no idea if that is the reason.  Some feel that this compromises the reliability of the external letters, as writers may be either more reluctant to participate at all, or if they do write, more reluctant to share unfavorable views of the tenure candidate.

U of California
All University of California campuses make the full department letter, campus-wide committee recommendations and redacted outside letters available to the candidate. This isn't just for tenure, but for any promotion or merit review.

            In the course of the promotion process, the candidate will automatically receive copies of the letters of assessment by the Chair, Dean, Provost and by any other administrative officers who may have written at each level of the review, including the report of the Chair of the President’s Review Board.  These letters should be copied to the candidate at the time they are written, and they must have all references to the identity of the author of confidential material expunged from them.
            The candidate may have access to the non-confidential parts of the dossier (i.e., Part I), including letters written by external and internal evaluators who have given prior approval in writing.
Also, I recall a ‘last look’, which I cannot find in the written guidelines (but it is mentioned on slide 5 in the attachment). Candidates for promotion are invited for a ‘last look’ at the dossier before it reaches the president. The dossier includes letters summarizing action at the department, school, PRB, and provost level. The ‘last look’ is for a specified period of time (perhaps 10 days) and must happen in the provost’s office. Candidates may view the entire dossier, with names redacted where external evaluators have requested it. After this ‘last look’ period, the dossier advances to the president and then the chancellor. A candidate may voluntarily waive his or her right to the ‘last look’, and then the dossier may move faster to the next level.

In both the public research I's  where I have taught, the committee letter (and vote count), the chair letter and the dean letter  are available to the candidate prior to their being sent up. The candidate has the right to respond to those letters in writing as they are submitted through the chain. The candidate may waive his/her right to see the referee letters and most times they do, but if they don't, they see them (not redacted). The referees are informed of the waiver/not. 

York U, Tronto
That is what we do here.  The candidate sees the entire file with only the identification of the letter writers redacted.  The candidate has something like 15 days to respond, if they want.  After that, the file goes to the Dean for comment, then to the Senate T&P, and then to the President.  The Dean can make a different recommendation than the committee, but cannot turn back the file.  The Senate committee can, as can the President.  Appeals are also possible and sometimes successful.

Morgan State
Not here at Morgan. Even the names of who is in the committee would not announced till the committee was formed. Completely in camera. 

University of Washington
I don't believe that UW makes letters available, however when I was serving on the Faculty Senate in 2013 we passed changes to the Faculty Code that require an additional disclosure to the tenure candidate, after the faculty council and the dean have made their recommendations, and before the dossier makes its way to the provost and the president. At UW Tacoma (where I am), the "faculty council" is the campus P&T committee and the "dean" is the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and/or the Chancellor (not sure which, perhaps I should find out as I am entering the chute tomorrow, gulp).

In the past, candidates were only informed of the vote of their faculty unit (according to the code), and left to surmise the outcome of subsequent steps, although I understand that there was some variation across different units and colleges and often informal reports were shared. Part of the rationale for the change, as I understood it, was to standardize practice throughout the university, reduce additional and unwarranted anxiety, or in the opposite case, provide the candidate with an opportunity to respond in writing to an unfavorable recommendation. 

Portland State University
At Portland State University, the faculty member can see the whole package, including letters (not redacted) and memos, after the Dean's decision, before it goes to the Provost. The referees are informed that their letters will be seen by the faculty member when they are invited to be a referee.

At the University of Toronto it is all confidential. Letters from externals, discussion, votes. The Chair of the tenure committee must summarize fairly the main points and thrust of the external review letters, research reading committee and teaching committee reports, in a letter to the candidate and to the tenure committee. That letter is the only part of the dossier that the candidate sees. The candidate has an opportunity to rebut that letter of summary. The candidate is not informed of the identity of any of the referees, but has the right to object to particular members of the tenure review committee.

I do not believe that honest letters of evidence would be possible if the writers thought that the candidate would see them. Even now we are much more likely to see faint praise than real critique.

USC (private)
Candidates see nothing, and faculty see the committee report, but not the dean’s letter nor any vote totals. Dean can decide not to advance the candidate, and if the faculty vote concurs, it won’t be advanced.

Re Confidentiality:
The importance of confidentiality during promotion and tenure proceedings is so important I nearly went to jail for refusing to testify in court when asked by counsel about the vote of a tenure committee on which I served. The judge said I had to answer because there is no confidentiality in the proceedings, but the attorney for the plaintiff, rephrased the question in such a way that could answer it and not reveal my vote or the vote of the committee.

MK: This point is well taken at my university. But clearly some very strong universities seem to find it ok or at least they are able to make decisions without such confidentiality. (My secret is that I forget the contents of a dossier and any votes (so many dossiers, so little time..., as they say), so I could not be a source of information--although once I got a free lunch since someone and their mentor thought they could squeeze it out of me.)

Hence, what I am looking for is evidence that tenure and promotion decisionmaking, in terms of judging the quality of candidates, is helped or hurt by confidentiality. 

I am told that  I assume too much good will in the world. I have seen enough nonsense that incompetence would explain most stuff. Moreover, those who would like to do ill, seem to leave their fingerprints and pawprints on everything. They write patently unfair reports, and they make claims not supported by the evidence. 

I had a friend who would be very good at leaving no fingerprints, and also had a long memory and more than enough patience. There are few such in my experience. Most dangerous folks are klutzes, their shenanigans revealed by legal inquiry. Of course, they do harm. Lots. But they are in effect bullies, who try to moon you. This is not the best position for a defense.

Plagiarism, Mosaic and otherwise--Put your thesis through Turnitin or other such.

On plagiarism. Below #2 is taken from Inside Higher Education, anonymized a bit.Those who are revealing the alleged plagiarism may well have less than honorable intents. However, it would appear that the copying is objectively there. It is mosaic plagiarism--namely bits and pieces of sentences or several sentences from an unacknowledged source, or from an acknowledged source but without quotation marks.
Nowadays, theses and dissertations are often available at no cost digitally from the university's library website. You can put them through Turnitin easily. I did so for a bunch of such. See below #1. The message is to students: Put your thesis through Turnitin or some such before submitting it. Otherwise it is an IED (improvised explosive device) ready to be detonated. 
And if you are hiring a candidate, do that for their papers or dissertations. This is not a problem you want to inherit.
I have written about this before. Please excuse the repetition.
1. I have written this for doctoral students:

 I have just checked a bunch of recent doctoral theses in our fields. The Similarity Scores, eliminating the bibliography and passages that were 10 words or less, were:

Not problematic:
7%--lots of this person's term papers were in the system, and so it gave 94%, but once I eliminated them, it went down to 7%
10%--lots of tables from sources are copied with attribution, so not a problem at all
22%--lots of references overlap with other sources, but this is not copying, and some is direct reference to an author but half-paraphrasing what they say. The latter is not ideal, but would not be a problem. This shows that the similarity score needs to be supplemented  by looking at the similarities.

14%--mosaic copying or plagiarism--no quotation marks and references may not be given either
11%--mosaic copying or plagiarism--no quotation marks and references may not be given either
17%--mosaic copying or plagiarism--no quotation marks and references may not be given either 
30%--mosaic copying or plagiarism--no quotation marks and references may not be given either
Sometimes references are given to the original source, but that is copied from the source from which the text is taken (not the original source).

Those thesis documents are readily available and anyone who has access to Turnitin can put them through the program. You don't want to be surprised. Your advisor surely has access to Turnitin.

It's easy to check, and there's no reason for you to set yourself up.

2. An investigation into plagiarism allegations against an State Y State University professor of history in 2011 found him not guilty of deliberate academic misconduct, but the case remained controversial. The chair of his department’s tenure committee resigned in protest and other faculty members spoke out against the findings, saying their colleague – who recently had been promoted to full professor – was cleared even though what he did likely would have gotten an undergraduate in trouble.
Now,  C. Prof X has written a new book, and allegations of plagiarism are being levied against him once again. Several blogs – one anonymously, and in great detail – have documented alleged examples of plagiarism in the work. Several of his colleagues have seen them, and say they raise serious questions about Prof X’s academic integrity.
Meanwhile, Prof X says he won’t comment on allegations brought forth anonymously, and his publisher, the University of Nebraska Press, says it’s standing by him.
Three years ago, several senior faculty members in Prof X’s department accused him of uncited borrowing of texts and ideas from books, Wikipedia and a newspaper article in his written work and a speech. In response, the university appointed a three-member committee to investigate. The group found that Prof X’s work contained no “substantial or systematic plagiarism,” but that he had been careless in some instances, as reported by Inside Higher Ed at the time. As a result, the university did not impose serious sanctions on the scholar, who is the founding director of State Y State’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.
In response, Monica Green, professor of history, resigned as department tenure committee chair. Several other professors called the investigation flawed and incomplete in a formal complaint to the university and in public statements.
Prof X at the time told the university that his colleagues were pursuing a personal vendetta, possibly due to his race and the fact that they disagreed with his promotion, The State Y Republic reported.
The university backed Prof X, saying that the investigation had been thorough and carried out by distinguished scholars.
In January, the University of Nebraska Press published Prof X’s newest book, Book Z: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama. Several prominent professors of history have written blurbs for the book, which won the Bayard Rustin Book Award from the Tufts University Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.
But not everyone is impressed.
Since the book’s publication, a blog called the Cabinet of Plagiarism has detailed numerous alleged instances of plagiarism in the book, including text and ideas taken from information websites and published scholarship. The blog is moderated by someone using the name Ann Ribidoux, who did not return a posted request for comment. There is no one on the State Y State faculty by that name.
The blog says it is dedicated to exposing plagiarism, and Prof X’s four “shelves” are the only entries. They detail extensive examples of Prof X’s alleged plagiarism, in which full paragraphs from Book Z bear strong resemblance, in wording and structure, to various Internet and academic sources. Some are cited, but lack quotations, and others are not cited. All full-text examples have been independently verified by Inside Higher Ed.
In one example, Prof X discusses affirmative action. Cabinet alleges that it is similar to a discussion on the topic on the information web site (which has been posted since at least 2000, according to Internet archives).
Book Z:
“Fueled by ‘angry white men’ as well as by white women, an all-out battle for the life of the policy emerged. For Conservatives, the system was a zero-sum game that opened the door for jobs, promotions, or education to people of color while it shut the door on whites.  In a nation that has celebrated the values of independence and ‘pulling oneself up by one bootstraps,’ conservatives soon argued that ‘unqualified’ racial minorities were getting a ‘free ride’ in American schools and in the workplace as a result of affirmative action policies.  They referred to affirmative action incorrectly and contemptuously as a system of ‘preferential treatment’ and ‘quotas.’ Some even claimed that many people of color enjoyed playing the role of ‘professional victim’ to exploit the policy for their own benefit.” (No citation of
“Fueled by ‘angry white men,’ a backlash against affirmative action began to mount. To conservatives, the system was a zero-sum game that opened the door for jobs, promotions, or education to minorities while it shut the door on whites. In a country that prized the values of self-reliance and pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps, conservatives resented the idea that some unqualified minorities were getting a free ride on the American system. ‘Preferential treatment’ and ‘quotas’ became expressions of contempt. Even more contentious was the accusation that some minorities enjoyed playing the role of professional victim.”
In another example, Prof X cites the Archive of American Television website following a discussion of “The Jeffersons,” but does not use quotations where the wording is the same.
Book Z
Archive of American Television
“The Jeffersons focused on the lives of a noveau-riche African American couple, George and Louise Jefferson (Isabel Sanford). George Jefferson was a successful businessman, millionaire, and owner of seven dry-cleaning stores. He lived with his wife in a ritzy penthouse apartment on Manhattan's fashionable and moneyed East Side. ‘We're movin' on up!’ intoned the musical theme of the show opener that featured George, Louise and a moving van in front of ‘their deluxe apartment in the sky. The Jeffersons was the first television program to feature an interracial married couple, the Jefferson’s upstairs neighbors in their tony apartment building, and it offered an uncommon, albeit comic, portrayal of a successful African American family. Lastly, The Jeffersons is one of several programs of the period to rely heavily on confrontational humor.”
“The Jeffersons, which appeared on CBS television from 1975 to 1985, focused on the lives of a nouveau riche African-American couple, George and Louise Jefferson. George Jefferson was a successful businessman, millionaire and owner of seven dry cleaning stores. He lived with his wife in a ritzy penthouse apartment on Manhattan's fashionable and moneyed East Side. ‘We're movin' on up!’ intoned the musical theme of the show opener that featured George, Louise and a moving van in front of ‘their de-luxe apartment in the sky.’....The Jeffersons was the first television program to feature an interracial married couple, and it offered an uncommon, albeit comic, portrayal of a successful African American family. Lastly, The Jeffersons is one of several programs of the period to rely heavily on confrontational humor.”
Cabinet also alleges that Book Z draws heavily from various editions of the The African American Odyssey, a textbook by Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Hine and Stanley C. Harroldwithout what the blog considers to be proper citations.
One of numerous similar examples relates to Prof X’s discussion of feminism.
Book Z
African American Odyssey (4th edition)
“A new wave of feminism emerged on the American political landscape in the 1960s and 1970s, transforming gender relations in the United States. The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed sexual as well as racial discrimination in employment, but the elimination of sexual discrimination was not an explicit goal of the civil rights movement at the time; in fact, congressional leaders who opposed the Civil Rights Act included mention of sexual discrimination in an effort to reduce the law’s chances of passage. Nevertheless, the inclusion of gender-specific language helped broaden discussions of civil rights to include the gender discrimination that had oppressed women for generations.”
“A new wave of feminism emerged on the American political landscape in the 1960s and 1970s that transformed gender relations. This movement arose, in part, out of the successes of the African-American civil rights struggle. The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed sexual as well as racial discrimination in employment. Although this had not been the goal of the civil rights movement at that time, and its inclusion was meant in part to lessen the law’s chance of passage, it helped open discussions of gender oppression that had laid dormant for decades.”
In addition to the Cabinet, Andrew Gelman, professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University, has written about the plagiarism allegations on his blog.
Gelman says he was alerted to the claims by a “history professor,” who sent him the following commentary after Gelman asked if he could blog about it:
“Over the past three years as a university faculty member, I’ve learned that a professor who plagiarizes blatantly and repeatedly can reap substantial benefits, while those who object to his fraudulent practices are subject to threats against their jobs and punishment from the administration,” the anonymous history professor wrote. “I’ve learned that the editors at a scholarly press will market a book to undergraduates, despite knowing that if those students were to use the book’s citation standards, they would be drummed out of their classes for violations of academic integrity. Perhaps most painfully, I’ve learned that the profession to which I have devoted much of my adult life professes high standards, but does not defend them.”
He continues: “The triumph of this plagiarist suggests that the critics of the humanities may be right. How do we continue to argue for humanities at the university level, if a university professor and a university press scrape their material from Wikipedia and from old textbooks? Why are we charging students to sit at our feet and absorb our expertise, if our expertise consists of little more than the ability to rearrange words?”
The anonymous professor also questions the University of Nebraska Press for its role in the case.
Prof X said via email: “While I truly appreciate you reaching out to me, I will not respond to an anonymous blog submission.” He referred further questions to the press.
Donna Shear, director of the press, said she hadn’t edited Prof X’s book personally and couldn’t speak to the exact nature of his review process. She said the press does not and cannot check everything it publishes for plagiarism and that authors sign a statement saying they have not plagiarized, indemnifying the press from such charges.
All that aside, she said, “We stand by .”
Shear continued: “I will say that all of this has been over the years sent to us by someone with a personal Gmail account, whose identity has never been revealed. But not only has [Prof X’s] book been through rigorous peer review, knowing that he’s had an issue in the past, he took tremendous pains to make sure that there wasn’t anything that could be questioned in this book.”
This seems to be a “personal issue, not a professional one,” Shear added.
Green, the history professor who stepped down from her role on a tenure committee following the 2011 plagiarism investigation into Prof X, said via email that she was on record with the university and in several news articles, including the State Y Republic piece about the 2011 allegations regarding Prof X.
“I have no further comment to make, having already had this er bring too much grief when I attempted to use normative channels to bring the concerns of the senior historians to the attention of the administration at [State Y State],” she said.
Brian Gratton, another history professor who vocally opposed the committee’s findings in 2011, in an email compared Prof X’s case to that of Vanessa Ryan, the assistant professor of English at Brown University who recently was found not guilty of intentional plagiarism by a faculty committee. She has been placed on administrative leave from her faculty position until her contract expires next year. (She is now serving in another, administrative position, and says that she made mistakes, but they were unintentional. Johns Hopkins University Press has declared her book out of print.)
“Two different universities, two different presses,” Gratton said. “In both the Brown and State Y State University cases, a faculty committee was reluctant to hold a professor accountable for what they condemn in students. Brown nonetheless ended Vanessa Ryan’s professorship, Johns Hopkins University Press withdrew her book, and Professor Ryan apologized. By contrast, State Y State University promoted  Prof X, despite his plagiarism, and provided him a well-funded center. Professor Prof X didn’t apologize, but blamed his initial plagiarism on the people he hired to do his research and writing for him. Even more disheartening is that the University of Nebraska Press has never acknowledged the extensive copying in Professor Prof X’s latest work, Book Z.”
Gratton continued: “Without attention to the standards of academic integrity by universities and academic presses, we demean the scholarship of those who abide by those principles.”
After the 2011 investigation, Prof X moved from State Y State's School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies to its School of Letters and Sciences.  Garcia, professor of history and transborder studies and director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies said he was not aware of the allegations against Prof X regarding the new book, and declined further comment. Duane Roen, Prof X's new dean, referred questions to Sharon Keeler, university spokeswoman.
Via email, Keeler said administrators had not previously heard of the new allegations, but that the university does not comment on the status of plagiarism investigations in general, for fear of damaging professors' careers. She added: “State Y State University has processes in place for investigating allegations of research misconduct. Appropriate sanctions are given when misconduct is determined to have occurred.”
Eduardo Pagan, professor of history at State Y State, served on the committee that investigated Prof X in 2011. He said he was aware of the blogs. Pagan said that despite faculty criticism that the probe had been less than thorough, “I absolutely stand by the integrity of the investigation.” He said each alleged example of plagiarism was weighed and debated, and that members of the committee had genuinely arrived at their conclusion, without any interference from administrators or anyone else.
Pagan also noted that there’s a perception among some academics and others outside academe that expulsion from the profession is the only suitable response to findings of plagiarism, but that American Historical Association guidelines say otherwise.
Quoting the AHA’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct, he said, “A persistent pattern of deception may [emphasis Pagan’s] justify public disclosure or even termination of a career; some scattered misappropriations may warrant a formal reprimand.”
AHA says plagiarism “takes many forms.”
The clearest abuse, it says, “is the use of another's language without quotation marks and citation. More subtle abuses include the appropriation of concepts, data, or notes all disguised in newly crafted sentences, or reference to a borrowed work in an early note and then extensive further use without subsequent attribution. Borrowing unexamined primary source references from a secondary work without citing that work is likewise inappropriate. All such tactics reflect an unworthy disregard for the contributions of others.”
AHA says that, regardless of context, “the best professional practice for avoiding a charge of plagiarism is always to be explicit, thorough, and generous in acknowledging one's intellectual debts.
Peniel Joseph, professor of history at Tufts University and founding director of its Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, which awarded Prof X the book prize, wrote a blurb for Book Z.
Via email, Joseph said that he was not aware of any of the allegations concerning the new book until contacted by Inside Higher Ed.
“I spoke with [Prof X] about the issue and he assured me that State Y State University has thoroughly investigated all plagiarism allegations and determined they were unfounded,” Joseph said. “That said, what concerns me most is that the allegations made against Professor Prof X are being made by anonymous persons using anonymous sources.”
Darlene Clark Hine, professor of African-American studies and history at Northwestern University, whose work is alleged by Cabinet to have been plagiarized, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The alleged instances of plagiarism in some cases appear similar to alleged examples of plagiarism investigated by the university in 2011, including the following graphic comparing a passage from Prof X’s Race Work to another work by Bradford Luckingham, called Minorities in Phoenix:
Minorities in Phoenix
by Bradford Luckingham
Race Work by  Prof X
"For example, off-duty black soldiers from the 364th Infantry Regiment stationed at Papago Park frequented the Phoenix ‘colored neighborhood.’ On the night of November 26, 1942, in a café at Thirteenth Street and Washington, one of them struck a black female over the head with a bottle following an argument. A black military policeman tried to arrest the soldier, but he resisted with a knife. When the military policeman shot and wounded the soldier, black servicemen protested."
"On one such occasion, off-duty African American soldiers from the 364th Infantry Regiment stationed at Papago Park in Phoenix were involved in a violent incident in a ‘colored neighborhood’ they often visited. On Thanksgiving night 1942, one of the black soldiers struck a black woman over the head with a bottle following an argument in a Phoenix café. An MP attempted to arrest the soldier, but he resisted with a knife. When the MP shot and wounded the soldier, black servicemen protested."*
* Footnotes in this paragraph credit The State Y Republic