I had planned on blogging about the resolution to the problem presented in my previous post when I had information, so here it is. The UK editor of Broadly/Vice also asked me to do this, to rectify the situation, and I am happy to do so.
First, thank you all for your concern and support over this issue. It is unbelievably encouraging to have your support, yet discouraging at the same time to learn that so many of you have had similar issues. The next step is to see how we can begin to solve the issue of giving credit.
As for the resolution to my issue, here are some details. I’ve been in contact with the UK editor of the site, Zing Tsjeng, who has been willing to evaluate my evidence. She has come to a solution.
To review: I based my case mainly on the fact that my ideas and unique conclusions were paraphrased and summarized without giving me proper credit. While Murray is not a forgotten Egyptologist, and there are plenty of people who mention her briefly in short biographies or in other works,* I am the only one who has taken the time to do the archival research on Murray and to write a full-length biography of her. In order to make my case, I was asked to give exact citations to show in the article and in my book where my ideas were taken. This was difficult for me, as I basically had to send pdfs of full chapters of the book and ask the editor to read them. Reading through almost 100 pages of scholarship is the only way to see my arguments, how I connected lines of evidence, and the conclusions I made. It is the only way to see that this article took a lot of that and distilled it down into a paragraph or two but didn’t cite me.
The author of the article, Sarah Waldron, who has been extremely gracious during the resolution of this issue, offered her own evidence and sources to Broadly. Three main sources were revealed to me: online portions of my book through Google books, an article by Ruth Whitehouse, and Murray’s Wikipedia entry. The author had pulled from these sources.
Ms. Tsjeng read through all the evidence and came to the conclusion that she could see my point. Both of the sources the author read were based off of my work, and each of them cite me–Wikipedia does so extensively. Tsjeng, who had been in close contact with Waldron, argued to me that while Waldron used these sources she had simply failed to read all the way through to the citations, or to click through, as it were, to see the main source for the ideas she was pulling. This is understandable. I never really thought that Waldron had maliciously plagiarized my work. I had always believed that she simply did not give due diligence to her research, demonstrated by the fact that neither my book nor any other sources were given for the article. For the record—I appreciate that the situation was addressed. The solution is that Tsjeng will edit the article (in fact she already has, see here) to give me proper credit. She also said that she will work to give the authors of the other sources credit as well. As of 8:45am CST that hasn’t been done.
But there is still a problem—why on earth did this have to be an issue in the first place? Why are some online news outlets not properly citing their sources? Or, more to the point, why are they not approaching the experts themselves? In my case, if Waldron had contacted me, I would have gladly talked to her over email, skype, facetime, or any other way, and helped her with information for the article. I’m easy to find online, or just Google me. I just did and I’m 4 out of the first 5 options. When Googling my book, I found multiple online sources for scholarship I had written. This is all to show, the information is out there.
I was supported on Twitter and Facebook by a number of you—thank you! Since Twitter is quite public and facebook seems a little more private, I’ve only taken screen shots of some of my Twitter activity. I have friends who are in the business of getting copyright infringement corrected, others who are passionate about copyrights because of their own work, and others who had their work taken in a similar manner.
I also have some friends who are wonderful, trustworthy journalists who supported me on this issue as well and gave sound advice. Thank you!
In some of these issues, the news outlets argued that they just didn’t have time to contact the expert. If you’re going on air, I see that. But there is always, I repeat, ALWAYS time and resources to give credit either verbally or in print on the screen.
Is it that these websites don’t want to pay experts? I can sort of see that, but is it that much more expensive to pay an expert than an enthusiast? I don’t know any experts in my field or other fields who do not want to get the public involved in what we are doing. I have numerous colleagues who actively pull the public into our fields to garner interest and to educate. That is what we are trained for, so let us do it!
As an academic, I do not want to take away from amateur historians or writers, I simply want them to be better trained in research methods and citation protocol so that these issues become a thing of the past. In the fast-paced world of online media management, we need a push for accountability. It is only fair to everyone.
Thank you to Broadly, Vice, Zing Tsjeng, Sarah Waldron, AB, Justin Martin, John Stewart, Eileen Clancy, Tony Spiker, and everyone else for helping me with this.
Jacqueline Simpson. “Margaret Murray: Who Believed Her and Why?” Folklore 105 (1994): 89-96.
Margaret S. Drower, “Margaret Alice Murray (1863-1963).” In Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists, edited by Getzel M. Cohen and Martha Sharp Joukowsky, 109-41. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 2006.
Rosalie David. The Two Brothers: Death and the Afterlife in Middle Kingdom Egypt. Bolton UK:Rutherford Press, 2007.