Plagiarism lawsuit has roots at IU South Bend

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Staff Writer

Plagiarism may not carry a criminal offense itself, but when committed, it infringes on intellectual properties of the author and publication. Katie Madonna Lee was one of three co-authors, along with Alison Stankrauff and Catherine Page-Vanore, who published an academic research article on the LGBTQ community.

The article is now the subject of a plagiarism lawsuit between Lee, the plaintiff, and Stankrauff and Page-Vanore, the defendants.

The suit comes from Lee, after finding the original article of which she was a co-author, was republished as part of a book titled “The Role of Agency and Memory in Historical Understanding: Revolution, Reform, and Rebellion.”

Lee found out through Facebook.

“Alison made a post about being published [the aforementioned book]…She didn’t tag me in the post, which made me wonder. So I purchased the book, go to the chapter and find out that I’m not cited at all in the article,” Lee said.

While there are small changes between the versions, Lee stated that they are “very trivial differences between the original article and the one in the book.”

Not being cited as a contributor set off alarm bells for Lee.

“The bibliography, the structure and everything is the same article that I wrote with them and they took my name off it, which is unethical. If I did that in any class, that would be considered plagiarising,” Lee said.

The process to research for, and get the article written and published officially was lengthy. Lee was a volunteer with the IU South Bend Archives, where Stankrauff was employed, at the time that she worked on the original published piece.

“It was a very long process to get the article written and published officially…I did all the footwork, Allison was a person who sat at her desk, I did most of the work,” Lee said.

Having worked with personal connections, including friends and family members, their stories are on the record in the research.

“I was deeply invested in this collection,” Lee said. “I am so naive about academics, I took them as ethical people. I trusted them with everything. I never expected them to do this to me.”

Lee believed the lack of credit in the republishing of the article was in part due to a falling out of sorts between herself and Stankrauff. The falling out was due to Stankrauff suggesting that a majority of Lee’s work be removed from The Civil Rights Heritage Center (CRHC).

The collections “don’t fit the mission statement of the Civil Rights Heritage Center,” said Stankrauff in an email to Lee in 2016, two years after Lee had begun working and volunteering with Stankrauff and the CRHC.

“I don’t understand how they can say with a clear conscience that that is not plagiarism…I learned the hard way that academics can be cut throat…It is hurtful and distressing,” said Lee.

Stankrauff and Page-Vanore both declined to comment on the lawsuit, deferring to their lawyer.

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