Friday, January 7, 2005
Theology Professor Plagiarized Passages in His Book on Ethics,
Professional Group Finds
By THOMAS BARTLETT
A Boston College professor who recently published a book on
psychoanalysis and ethics plagiarized passages from a book on the same
subject, according to the Boston Psychoanalytic Society, which
conducted a yearlong investigation into the matter.
The investigation concluded in November, but the professional society's
decision was disclosed only on Thursday, in an article published by The
The group found that The Ethical Dimension of Psychoanalysis: A
Dialogue (State University of New York Press, 2003), by the Rev.
William W. Meissner, a professor of theology at Boston College,
"contained some passages that excessively paraphrased or borrowed
ideas" from Psychoanalysis and Ethics (Yale University Press, 1991), by
Ernest Wallwork, a professor of ethics at Syracuse University.
When Mr. Wallwork discovered the similarities, he notified SUNY Press.
After an investigation, the press concluded that Mr. Wallwork's charges
were without merit, according to James Peltz, the press's interim
director. "We decided that any errors in attribution were inadvertent
and minor," Mr. Peltz said. "We didn't feel that there was a situation
that warranted further action on our part."
As for the psychoanalytic society's recent finding, Mr. Peltz said he
was waiting to receive a copy of the decision. He said that when it is
received, the press will examine the charges again.
Through a Boston College spokesman, Father Meissner declined to comment
on the society's finding. "What I can tell you is that he adamantly
maintains that he did not engage in plagiarism and that his book gives
ample and appropriate credit" to Mr. Wallwork, said Jack Dunn, the
spokesman. Mr. Dunn said the college is conducting its own
A representative of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society was unavailable
for comment on Thursday. The society, which offers training to
mental-health professionals, began an investigation after Mr. Wallwork
submitted a complaint. In a letter to Mr. Wallwork, the society said
that an eight-member panel had reviewed the case and found that Father
Meissner had committed "a serious breach of professional and scholarly
Mr. Wallwork is asking SUNY Press to withdraw Father Meissner's book
until corrections are made.
In December The Chronicle published a special report on plagiarism by
professors. It found that "academe often discourages victims from
seeking justice, and when they do, tends to ignore their complaints."
Copyright © 2005 by The
Chronicle of Higher Education
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