While reading Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, 2005, New York: Cambridge) this afternoon, something seemed oddly familiar and out of place. The authors reference a World Politics article from 1994 in which Doh Chull Shin (U.of Missouri) provides a useful review of the democratization literature and a concise reading of the results. Here is a copy of the page in Acemoglu and Robinson’s book.
It seemed familiar because I had just read this same text (or at least nearly the same text) in Samuel P. Huntington’s (1991) The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Yet here it was again, only credited to another author writing 3 years after Huntington’s book was published. Here is the text from Huntington’s book:
Obviously, there had to be some mistake. So I went to the Shin article to check how it had presented the list of conclusions and how it had been referenced. Here’s a copy of the text from Shin’s article:
Shin’s article is obviously problematic. His explanation and citation of the list is confusing. It is not clear to the reader that this list was largely taken from Huntington (1991). Instead, it appears that Shin compiled it himself from the list of authors provided in the footnote. But obviously it is taken directly from Huntington’s book with very few alterations.
Is this a case of plagiarism? Clearly Shin has not done a good job citing this information or in paraphrasing it. For example, #6 on his list is almost verbatim #5 on Huntington’s (only one article – that/those – is different!). However, it is unlikely that this was intentional. This is most likely a case of ambiguity in citation that carried over to another work.
Still, for World Politics, this is quite embarrassing. It also embarrassing for Acemoglu and Robinson and Cambridge University Press. One would think that between two of the leading publishers in political science, and multiple peer reviewers, someone would have pointed out the ambiguous citation for this information.