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Should I Worry About Peer Reviewer Plagiarism

I want to start getting at least some of my writing peer reviewed, but I'm a little worried about plagiarism. How can I protect my unpublished work?

Ideas? Thoughts? Recommendations?
 

pmmg

Istar
Well...

I've been prominent on two peer review sites. I am unaware of any of my work being directly taken, though once someone did steal my idea, which I did not appreciate, but....I'd not call it plagiarism.

I think the general feeling on them is 'I have my own stuff to write, I dont have need of yours.'

Peer review sites, if they are designed right, hide your work from non-subscribed members, so only very few ppl will actually have the ability to see it, and most are too lazy to review everything, so...that means even fewer.

I think the biggest drawback of a peer review site is that they are a huge time and energy suck, and few ppl will read a long work to its end. You get a mixed bag of skill, so if you get 10 reviews, there will be a bell curve on their quality.

The best education to be gained from a peer review site is what you learn doing reviews and not receiving.

They are a good place to make friends, and maybe get a core set of beta readers. Cause after a while you learn the personalities there and may make some good reciprocal relationships.

Personally, I have no fear of using one, and would post my work up if inclined. But...the world is always full of risk.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
It helps to take a moment to clarify your fears.
(which, now I say it, makes a really good villain line: "let me help clarify your fear")
Anyway. Ahem.

Let's suppose I publish something to a peer review site. Someone sees it and likes it and copies it. What am I afraid of?

1. That person publishes it and makes a ton of money that *should have been mine*!
2. That person publishes it, makes a lot or a little, but now *I* can't publish it or I'll look like the plagiarist.
3. That person copies it, modifies it, and publishes it in some changed form.

That's about all I can come up with. If you have another, do speak up, but in the meantime, I'll address these three.

1 is perhaps the easiest, because everything at a website has a date stamp. It's easy to demonstrate that the text appeared under your name before it appeared under theirs. Because they've made a ton of money, you should have no difficulty retaining legal counsel and taking that person to court to get lost income and damages. It will take a while, but you'll come out ahead. And, you'll have gained some notoriety, which is worth more than the rest all rolled into a ball.

2 is still easy to prove, but there's nothing to recover. Even so, you'll still be able to demonstrate to a publisher that the work is yours. Also, be of good cheer, because the fact that it got published somewhere means you, and not the other guy, know how to write marketable stories.

3 is more difficult. But if it's in some changed form, then it truly doesn't matter. They've only stolen an idea, which is done all the time and nobody has a truly unique idea.

Which brings me to 4. What, I didn't list a 4? Sure I did. You just can't see it yet.

I posted my story on a peer review site. That means I'm *expecting to change* the story in various ways. Whatever I submit to a publisher is going to be different from what I post on the site anyway. It's a partial painting. It's an incomplete song. Nobody is stealing the finished product, so I'm afraid for something that cannot happen, or at least not at this point.

Finally (is this a 5?), I echo pmmg. I have not experienced, nor do I know of a case, a theft of material from a peer review site.

But again, if you've other fears, please give them voice. I promise not to steal them! <gdr>
 
My fears have been allayed by both pmmg and Skip. Thank you for both for your input and insight. I will no longer worry about putting my work out there.

Part of what fueled all this nonsense was an article I read online that listed things that were wrong with peer review sites. Plagiarism was on the top of that list. Some people just can't help themselves. They see the worst in everything, then try to drag others into their mindset.

So again, thank you both, for reassuring me. I know peer review can be very helpful and now I will no longer fear the plagiarism bogeyman
 
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I would say that most plagiarists aren't going to be very good to begin with, so, there's little to worry about unless they have the entire and polished work. That said, lots of book thieves have published other people's work on Amazon AT THE SAME TIME as the other book is available. This has been done with older OOP books and anything a cheat can think of. Pirates, thieves, plagiarists... they're all something to worry about at some point, but you can't let them stop you from improving, and peer review can help you improve. Peer review is sketchy because your reviewers are all over the place in ability, but if you can sort the slag out of the pile, you can get useful insights.
 
I would say that most plagiarists aren't going to be very good to begin with, so, there's little to worry about unless they have the entire and polished work. That said, lots of book thieves have published other people's work on Amazon AT THE SAME TIME as the other book is available. This has been done with older OOP books and anything a cheat can think of. Pirates, thieves, plagiarists... they're all something to worry about at some point, but you can't let them stop you from improving, and peer review can help you improve. Peer review is sketchy because your reviewers are all over the place in ability, but if you can sort the slag out of the pile, you can get useful insights.

Yup, I don't think I'll be handing the polished work over to anybody but a publisher. LOL But you're right peer review can definitely be a boon to help a writer improve.

It certainly does help if your peer reviews are knowledgeable and not afraid to tell it like it is.
 
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