Armchair BEA: Ethics

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Ethics

For today’s Armchair BEA discussion on ethics, I’d like to share some thoughts on plagiarism. I know it’s naive to believe that plagiarism doesn’t exist in the book blogging community. We are such a supportive, friendly, and honest community! Unfortunately, I’ve seen a few Twitter exchanges to know that blatant plagiarism does occur. That aside, though, it is possible for plagiarism to unintentionally sneak in. An idea can stick in your head, and your mind can trick you into believing a clever thought is your own.

Once I was improvising a bit while working on an arrangement of a hymn tune. A lovely 16-measure section came forth… at first, I was excited about how beautiful it sounded. Then, to my horror, a realization: this section wasn’t my material at all. I had heard and performed it before! I ended up setting aside any work on that particular melody and coming back to it months later, after I’d given my mind’s ear some distance.

I’ve thought about that moment when it comes to writing reviews. And it is a huge reason why I try to avoid reading reviews on a book I’m reading (or know I will read soon) until after I’ve written my own review.

In cases where a review is what got me interested in the book (or I just couldn’t help myself), I cross-check my own review against the one(s) I read, just to make sure. Of course we often share conclusions or feelings about a book, especially with others who share our tastes in reading. I’m likely being a tad too cautious, but it makes me feel better if I take a quick peek for any accidental similarities.


By the way, you can run a check on your website for free on Plagiarism Detect to see if others on the web have lifted your material: