I haven’t up to this point commented on the allegations that Fr. McBrien is guilty of plagiarism first reported by Domenico Bettinelli. The Boston Herald picked up the story and the Cardinal Newman Society has sent a letter to Notre Dame about it. I ran into a new site today called Copyscape.com which is a site used to detect plagiarism. I decided to test it out by entering in the url of Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara column and sure enough it listed Fr. McBrien’s article in The Tidings as a case of plagiarism. So that seems to me to be a pretty good unbiased opinion of whether plagiarism actually occurred.
Incidentally, Jody Bottum has opined at On The Square that what Fr. McBrien did wasn’t plagiarism as far as journalist/columnist ethics are concerned (I linked to his post here).
I had seen that, which is one of the reasons I wanted to test it out.
This appears to be simply a search engine under another name. My guess is that it takes the text from the URL and sends it to Google to analyze the results and then returns that set after reformatting it. If that’s the case, and I have a strong suspicion it is, then the site itself has ethical problems.
I agree with Jody Bottum’s view that this is bottom feeding rather than plagiarism. What the dear Father should be raked over the coals for is heterodoxy and idiocy, not plagiarism.
Nick, what are the ethical problems you speak about with copyscape? I’d like to hear your thoughts
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