While waiting for an GMU (George Mason University) to finish its official investigation, USA Today contacted several experts and asked them whether disputed material appearing in The Wegman Report, which is often cited by climate change deniers as a refutation of Mann's Paleoclimatic reconstructions, rose to the level of plagiarism. Their response was pretty blunt:
• "Actually fairly shocking," says Cornell physicist Paul Ginsparg by e-mail. "My own preliminary appraisal would be 'guilty as charged.' "
•"If I was a peer reviewer of this report and I was to observe the paragraphs they have taken, then I would be obligated to report them," says Garner of Virginia Tech, who heads a copying detection effort. "There are a lot of things in the report that rise to the level of inappropriate."
•"The plagiarism is fairly obvious when you compare things side-by-side," says Ohio State's Robert Coleman, who chairs OSU's misconduct committee.
While the plagiarism does not negate some of the methodological criticisms of Mann's work make in the Wegman report (and first levelled by Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit), a more recent analysis by DC here suggests that even these criticisms were overstated.
PS. For background, I've written a number pieces on the Wegman controversy here. And take a glance below for an instance of the alleged plagiarism. That's Wegman on the left, De Nooy, Mrvar and Batagelj on social networks on the right. Blue indicates direct lifts of D, M and B's work.