Neil says that the issue is a matter of "style and formatting" in his articles, which date as far back as 2008 and span topics such as school safety, military operations and reverse mortgages.
"This looks like 'lazy plagiarism,' " Campbell, an economics professor at the University of Central Arkansas, said in an email. "Another 30 minutes of effort would have reworded the material such that only a citation was required. ... This is a bit sad, because I generally agree with the article's arguments."
Still Lopez, Jewell and Campbell said they will reserve judgment on whether Neil made a "regrettable oversight" or committed a "deliberate deception" until Towson's investigation is complete.
Towson University officials declined to comment other than to say that the investigation would follow its policies on scholarly misconduct. The policy says that "improper authorship" includes "plagiarism; improper assignment of credit; claiming the work of another author as one's own; and submission of multi-authored works without the concurrence of all authors."
Neil had co-authors on some of the papers in question; none of them returned calls seeking comment. However, Neil said that at least two of the co-authors only reviewed his work.
Pressure to publish
The economic downturn put more pressure on academics to regularly publish scholarly journal articles, said Jonathan Bailey, a New Orleans-based copyright and plagiarism consultant.
"There is a publish-or-perish mentality among professors," Bailey said. "It is a kind of a 'publish at all costs' mentality, too. The professors know their jobs are on the line if they don't publish."
Neil's professor profile on Towson's website lists 13 published articles, more than half of which were written in 2009, and five found to include unattributed content. He said it was true that he took pride in publishing articles and that they sometimes take him months to write.
The Clute Institute, a Colorado-based company that publishes 15 academic journals and sponsors annual conferences, has published at least six of Neil's papers. Three of them contained unattributed material.
Ronald C. Clute, founding director of the company, said he is reviewing Neil's work.
"We don't tolerate plagiarism here, but we do have to verify it," Clute said. If his review shows the paper was plagiarized, he said, "we'll retract the article. We'll have no choice."
Another journal publisher, Sage Publications, also confirmed that it is investigating a paper submitted by Neil in 2009.
Bailey said plagiarism can often occur by mistake.
"It can happen innocently, [especially] when you're talking about someone who is really inexperienced in the field or you're dealing with a one-off mistake or one footnote that you deleted," Bailey said. "When you're talking about hundreds of words and multiple sources involved, it goes from being a likely mistake to either this person is being careless or they are doing it intentionally or knowingly."
Ted Goertzel, a widely published Rutgers University sociology professor, said the uncited passages from his 2002 paper "Myths of Murder and Multiple Regression" were not "major" infractions, but still a "violation of generally accepted academic standards."
Neil's 2009 paper, "Should Armed Guards Be Allowed in Schools in Light of the Recent Right-To-Carry Laws?" used several verbatim paragraphs in Goertzel's paper, and in three instances Neil did not place quotes around borrowed passages or cite his work.
"If students at Rutgers did this, their professors would have to report them to the deans, and they would receive a sanction," Goertzel said in an email to The Sun. "If you want to give the benefit of the doubt, you could say that he got careless due to over-busyness. This excuse would not be accepted from a student, however."