Too Close to Call? Daniel Peterson in the Deseret News

Recently, FPR bloggers have alleged that Daniel Peterson’s recent Deseret News column closely followed the author’s summary of a book he was reviewing, without attribution. At least one commenter has asked for more evidence of this claim.

In response, I want to demonstrate the close relationship between Peterson’s review and the author’s work at a textual level. I present the two texts in a linked PDF below, one marked as written by Daniel Peterson [DCP] and the other by the author, Robert J. Hutchison [RJH] .

Underlined text indicates an identical or  nearly identical relationship between the two texts.

Strikethrough text shows what DCP did not include from the original source.

Italics identify the expansions DCP makes to the original source.

It appears that Peterson elaborated a point in some cases, substituted synonyms in others, rearranged the order of some clauses, and lifted entire phrases and sentences in others. A quick examination shows that roughly 80% of the original source is reproduced nearly identically in Peterson’s column, though this quantification is only an estimate.

I am confident in my belief that in an academic environment this would violate any school’s code of conduct requiring original work and attribution of sources. I believe that editors and publishers in most venues would most likely determine that the unattributed work follows the original source too closely in this case. How the Deseret News implements its writing policies is its own business.


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