Bay Area woman paid to write history book allegedly plagiarized from Wikipedia

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Photo by Amanda Bartlett


Exterior of the Santa Clara County Government Center on Hedding Street in San Jose. A Santa Clara County employee was paid to write a book on the history of county government that included passages plagiarized from Wikipedia, SFGATE, History Channel, Mercury News and other sources.

Smith/Gado/Getty Images Collection

A Bay Area government worker tasked with writing an exorbitantly expensive Santa Clara County government history book is under fire after the Mercury News discovered that a significant portion of the manuscript had been plagiarized from multiple sources, including his own publication, Wikipedia, SFGATE, the History Channel, the Washington Post, and a number of other local and national news outlets.

Jean McCorquodale, president of McCorquodale Corporation and wife of former county supervisor and state senator Dan McCorquodale, has worked for the county since 1995. Her duties included completing grant applications and related duties before becoming the sole author county grant. from 2009 to 2014, reported the Mercury News. Her contract was later renewed and she was put in charge of the history book project in 2018, an endeavor delayed for two years. The county has reportedly paid him at least $2.45 million since 2009.

After the 580-page manuscript was finally submitted by Jean McCorquodale last January, the Mercury News discovered that numerous excerpts had allegedly been copied verbatim from the websites from which she drew her research, including a section of the page Wikipedia of Politician Jonathan. D. Stevenson, a paragraph from a History Channel article on the Spanish–American War Treaty of Paris and segments from another page on the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation website.

The Santa Clara County Executive Office, which is investigating the incident, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from SFGATE. But County Executive Jeff Smith told Mercury News he was “shocked” and “very concerned” to find that portions of the project submitted by McCorquodale were nearly identical to the source material.

McCorquodale told the outlet that the sections in question were “placeholders” and that she had no plans to use them in the final draft. In any case, the Mercury News reported that even if the book is published, it’s unclear where it will be available for use beyond the Santa Clara County government office in San Jose, as well as county records.

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