Posted on March 21, 2024

Copy and Paste

Christopher Rufo, City Journal, March 20, 2024

Harvard professor Christina Cross is a rising star in the field of critical race studies. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, secured the support of the National Science Foundation, and garnered attention from the New York Times, where she published an influential article title “The Myth of the Two-Parent Home.”

Cross’s 2019 dissertation, “The Color, Class, and Context of Family Structure and Its Association with Children’s Educational Performance,” won a slate of awards, including the American Sociological Association Dissertation Award and the ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award, and helped catapult her onto the Harvard faculty.

According to a new complaint filed with Harvard’s office of research integrity, however, Cross’s work is compromised by multiple instances of plagiarism, including “verbatim plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, uncited paraphrasing, and uncited quotations from other sources.”

{snip} The complaint begins with a dozen allegations of plagiarism related to the dissertation that range in severity from small bits of “duplicative language,” which may not constitute an offense, to multiple passages heavily plagiarized from other sources without proper attribution. (Cross did not respond to a request for comment.)

The most serious allegation is that Cross lifted an entire paragraph nearly verbatim from a paper by Stacey Bosick and Paula Fomby titled “Family Instability in Childhood and Criminal Offending During the Transition Into Adulthood” without citing the source or placing verbatim language in quotations. {snip}


This was not a one-off error. Later in the paper, Cross lifts another full paragraph from Bosick and Fomby, with minor word substitutions, without placing the copied language in quotation marks or properly citing the authors. Cross cannot plead unfamiliarity with the source: Fomby served on Cross’s dissertation committee, making the offense even more egregious.

Elsewhere in the paper, Cross borrows language from other academic sources, sometimes citing the authors but failing to place the verbatim language in quotations, and other times failing to cite the source at all, creating the false impression that it was her own work. For example, Cross lifts verbatim language from “Examining the Antecedents of U.S. Nonmarital Fatherhood,” by Marcia Carlson, Alicia VanOrman, and Natasha Pilkauskas—the last of whom also served on Cross’s dissertation committee—without the use of direct quotations, as required. {snip}


According to the complaint, Cross repeats this pattern of plagiarism in at least one other paper, “Extended family households among children in the United States: Differences by race/ethnicity and socio-economic status,” published in the academic journal Population Studies in 2018. The complaint alleges that Cross again uses material from others, including the same passages from her dissertation advisors, without proper attribution.