King's dissertation

King chose the topic of his dissertation - A comparison of the conception of God in the thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman - in the winter of 1953. He contacted the two proposed subjects (victims?) in the summer of '53 to ask them if anyone had tried similarly to compare their ideas. His thesis outline was approved in April 1954, and the first draft of the thesis was produced ('written' is probably the wrong word!) by November 1954. His readers suggested a few small corrections and the final draft was submitted to Boston University in April 1955.

The King Papers project relates how King managed to generate 'his' first draft so efficiently. He took notes from his sources onto a series of notecards, and then transcribed the notecards directly into his thesis. Sometimes he didn't indicate on the cards that what he was writing was a direct transcription; sometimes he did include quotation marks on the cards, but then omitted them in the thesis.

The dissertation is a result heavily plagiarized. The King Papers Project in 1991 estimated that 52% of Chapter 2 of the thesis was plagiarized - transcribed from the work of other authors without any indication that the section was an exact reproduction. Looking over the complete annotated version of his thesis, it is clear that in places page upon successive page is composed of concatenated sequences of stolen quotations, with King contributing literally nothing to the text other than by arranging the words of others. A full estimate of the proportion of King's original work in the thesis will require a computer analysis, but it is not high. The main sources for King's appropriations were:

There will follow a detailed annotation of King's thesis, with the plagiarized portions highlighted and linked to their sources. So far, I've completed the first part of chapter 3.