Saturday, 17 April 2010

Plagiarism - A Follow Up

Having vented yesterday about my plagiarism woes I thought that I was done. And in most part I am - I have let it go. Life's too short for me to be getting my knickers in a bunch for longer than a week over someone else's pettiness, laziness and greediness. This will be the last post on this incident.

I just wanted to refer to the other blogs that are discussing the same issue, answer some questions that were posted in the comment section and present a publisher's thoughts on review plagiarism.


Plagiarism discussions:
If you are reading this post then you probably found it via the outlets I am about to mention. The gals have done a fantastic job at going into the legalities and use of citations (Steph Su), ways to avoid plagiarising (Tirzah), what to do if you've been plagiarised (Lenore), finding your voice (Kristi) and the immorality of plagiarism (Liz).


Plagiarism Q&A:
BermudaOnion - How did you discover that your work was plagiarized?
Quite simply I was checking out a blog that I hadn't heard much about. I am someone who reads only a small number of blogs devotedly but I am always looking for blogs to add. I went straight to their most recent review...immediately I recognised my "voice". I didn't recognise tracts of text so much as my style and with a comparison, I could tell it had been plagiarised. Good for me, very unlucky for the blogger.

Lizzy - How do you handle a situation like this in the blogging community?
Quietly. Until I posted yesterday very few people knew about it. I didn't discuss it publicly. I asked a couple of people to read both reviews and tell me if I was imagining it. All of my "consultants" agreed that it was too coincidental, one even analysing the sentences that were freakishly alike.

I then wrote a civil email (bcc-ed to two trusted friends) to the blogger stating that I found their review to echo my own and that there were too many similarities to be considered coincidental. I then asked that it be removed from their site immediately. I was polite, firm and offered to provide evidence for my beliefs. The review was removed. For now. Don't ask.

In checking for other reviews for plagiarism I found that my work wasn't the only one being "adapted". Considering the small pool of reviewers I read, it's miraculous that they all happened to be the ones copied. I guess the plagiarist and I have similar taste!

In my case, the review has stayed down so the issue is over. I won't be pursuing this with the web host, though I do have grounds. I have chosen for this to be it depending on the other party's behaviour.

Outing the plagiarist...?
Was never going to happen on my end. It is tempting and I had ideas...believe me I had truly wicked ideas that would have worked a treat. But that's not who I want to be, even if I am super humanly pissed off. I really want for this person to learn from the experience. To grow.

I wanted to leave it at the email but it was taken out of my hands once I realised the extent of the plagiarism. Apologies don't mean much when you realise the "accidental" borrowing of ideas has happened to several people from the same source. In the end, I want other bloggers to be alert to the idea that other blogger's might do this. Mission accomplished.

If you notice paraphrased or blatant plagiarism - leave a comment or approach the person you believe has been wronged. Staying silent doesn't benefit anyone. Choose to deal with it in a dignified manner.


Publisher's Thoughts
In the midst of all this happening I was curious to know how this might affect the relationship between a blogger and a publisher. I contacted one of my previous ARC providers (since moving to Japan I am no longer sent review copies unless it is author driven) to see what she thought.

Erin from Penguin Australia
Sending books to bloggers for reviews is only a relatively new venture for Penguin Australia, and naturally, we approached it with an amount of trepidation. When sending books to newspapers or magazines, there is a certain amount of accountability that the reviewers must adhere to. There is a publication to link them to and a relationship with that publication must be formed.

Blogging is different, a certain amount of the relationship must be based on trust. We don’t know who you are, we have no way of checking your credentials and we have no assurances that bloggers will indeed review the books they are given. I was warned by a number of people that there are bloggers out there who will do anything for free books without the intention of ever reviewing. While this is not entirely surprising, I am willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and give them a chance to form that relationship with us. That said, I am astounded that the blatant plagiarism of reviews has happened. Again, this is not entirely surprising as there is no way to monitor the blogosphere, so I guess it is more disappointing than anything else. This is plagiarism, pure and simple.

Would you take parts of an author’s novel and try to publish it as your own? I think not, but it’s the same thing. From a publisher’s point of view, this gives all bloggers a bad name and makes us very wary of sending out review copies in the future. What has to be remembered is that not only are these reviews the intellectual property of the reviewer, but it also does the author of the books a great disservice as well. Authors keep track of their reviews and plagiarism will be noticed and then I’m sure that authors will have doubts about sending review copies to bloggers as well. I do not expect all the bloggers to whom I send review copies to review every book, but I do expect the reviews that are published to be the sole work of the reviewer and I expect them to be honest. Trust is a very fragile thing and instances like this do make publishers rethink their relationship with the blogging world, which is a shame. That said, most bloggers I encounter are very honest and grateful for the books they receive and I am more than happy to keep our relationships going.

My advice to other bloggers out there would be to keep an eye on your reviews and if you encounter a similar situation, let us know, perhaps by working together we can go some way to ensuring that it doesn’t happen again.

Thank you Erin. I appreciate your thoughts greatly.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow bloggers for their outpouring of support. Your lovely words really helped me think of the blogosphere with more optimism than I have in the previous week. I appreciate it more than words can say :)

That being said, I did find another positive in this whole escapade. I shall never forget the correct spelling for plagiarism!


Lenore said...

I, too, have finally learned how to spell plagiarism thanks to this incident.

Adele said...

At least we still have a sense of humour :) And better spelling.

Lenore said...

Lol! Yes. I just edited my post to include a link to this as well.

sharonlovescats said...

Same here! I just spelled plagiarism on twitter without having to look it up. lol

Lynsey Newton said...

It's interesting to see this from a publisher's point of view. I'm really glad that they have the sense to realise that not every blogger would even dream of plagiarising!! I hope the relationship between bloggers and publishers can continue harmoniously and not be damaged by a few bad apples.

The Compulsive Reader said...

Blah, the P word! I hate that word now, and I have typed it far too many times this week.

Great post, Adele.

Liviania said...

Thanks for sharing what happened. Hopefully no one thinks my words are awesome enough to steal since I have trouble reading other blogs regularly.

It's amazing how many people don't grasp that plagiarism is a crime. I mean, before I entered college I had to sign this long document with a detailed description. But there are still people who try to get away with it.

Also, I love Bart's expression in that picture. He's totally going to do it again.

Aubrey (AKA Stacey) said...

Lenore, I may not always agree with your opinion on books, but I will forever love your blog! I love your perspective your honest nature and how REAL you are. It is what I cherish in a blog.

Way to look on the bright side of learning to spell a new word! ;)

I hope this is a big lesson to not just bloggers but anyone writing anything that they use someone else's ideas.

Robby said...

Your blog has always been one of my favorites. There has always been something that is just so...authentic about your reviews. I only go on my blog once every few days and I tend to miss all of the big things that go on in this blogosphere, but I'm glad that I saw this.
I'm glad that you've gotten it out of your system, that all of these other fabulous people have chimed in.
If I wasn't so late, I'm sure I would've as well.
Either way, whoever this review was knows that what they did was horrible, inexcusable.
And, much like everyone else, I have been spelling plagiarism wrong this whole time. I have learned.

Ebony McKenna. said...

You've handled this with class. Bravo.

Becky said...

I agree with Ebony. You have shown complete professionalism over this issue and I am in complete admiration.

Tony Smith said...

Thanks for the post. I use a website called that has plagiarism tracking tools which are quite advanced features to track plagiarism. The tools help me to check the malpractice.


bermudaonion said...

Thanks for following up and answering my question.

Serena said...

I really like the publisher's response. I think it would be best for publishers and bloggers to work together on this issue to ensure the authors and publishers receive what they expect -- honest reviews of original writing!

Callista said...

I have a question. There is a blog I found that is not just plagiarizing, but copying, word for word, photo for photo, link for link posts from many book bloggers. I think it's automatically taking them or something. I can't figure out who to contact. There is no way to contact the blogger. It's on which means I can't complain to wordpress and I don't know how to find the host. I could really use some help.