Friday, November 17, 2006

More on plagiarism in book published by Univ. of Tennessee Press

Scott Jaschik at InsideHigherEd has more on the plagiarism issues surrounding a book by R. Fred Ruhlman published by the University of Tennessee Press. It seems that William Marvel, the plagiarized author, discovered the similarities after he was asked to review Ruhlman’s book for The Georgia Historical Quarterly.

Jaschik writes: In an interview Tuesday (Nov. 14), Ruhlman said that he worked on the book for six years and that “it has become quite evident that I still have learning to do about producing a scholarly work.”

He characterized the overlap with Marvel’s book as being in 8 to 10 paragraphs in which he had engaged in “very close paraphrasing” without necessary attribution. Ruhlman said he had engaged in “some soul-searching” to try to figure out what happened, and that he’s not sure. [IPBiz note: this sounds worse than what the students were doing at Ohio University.]

In an interview, Marvel said that he hadn’t heard of Ruhlman’s book until he was asked to review it. After he found numerous similarities — he said that they are "more extensive" than Ruhlman suggested — he called back the editors at The Georgia Historical Quarterly and said he didn’t feel he could be objective in his review. Eventually, he was persuaded to write the review (which focuses on the similarities) and to tell the Tennessee press about his concerns.

Jaschik also stated that Ruhlman said he first worked on Andersonville for his dissertation at the American University of London, so there is a potential issue with the thesis itself.

*** notes:

Fellow blogger Kevin Levin has a lengthy post on his blog today [Nov. 14] that spells out, in great detail, the plagiarism scandal that has hit the realm of Civil War academia. Prof. R. Fred Ruhlman, who teaches Civil War history at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, apparently plagiarized most of his new book on Capt. Henry Wirz and the Andersonville prison camp from the work of Prof. William Marvel.
As Peter Carmichael points out in a comment to Kevin’s post, the process of peer review employed by university presses usually catches this sort of thing, but this one got through. Ruhlman is, of course, responsible for his own actions, but the fact that this book got through the vetting process at the University of Tennessee Press, which is a very well-respected university press, doesn’t speak well for the Press.


Post a Comment

<< Home