For nearly twenty years, I have thought long and hard before deciding to publish my unpublished academic writing on my own website. More recently, I’ve finally decided to do this for two reasons – 1) to make academic writing accessible to Indian music students who do not have access to musicological writings in the Anglo-American scholarly academy owing to a lack of institution logins and subscription access to research journals. 2) I wanted to deposit my writings in one place, to retain a certain autonomy but also to make my work accessible in one place. This does not mean that I am rejecting the normal, rigorous academic publication process – several of these writings are works in progress, which will no doubt be published in journal article form, or book form down the line.
So the main concern is plagiarism. My work on Mozart and my other analytical writings on a variety of musics are highly original; they use theoretical frameworks (by Robert Gjerdingen and Martin Clayton to name but a few) that have never before been applied to my chosen musical works. The writing style is academic but accessible to those readers without academic experience, and all that is required is a desire to improve one’s skills as a music analyst. A familiarity with notation and piano scores is a prerequisite, but beyond that my various essays, theses and scholarly articles aim to guide the reader unfamiliar with my chosen theories and technicalities so that the writing makes sense to those without a great deal of experience in theory and analysis. For these reasons, plagiarism remains a serious problem.
However, my attitude to such anxieties is simple. The pros of putting high quality, high level musical writing online for anyone and everyone to read far outweigh the cons of being plagiarised by shifty academic students and writers! If someone wants to steal original academic writing before it is published in a variety of legitimate formats then my warning is as follows: several of these pieces, books, essays, articles and ethno-analyses are being moulded for publication in mainstream journals (Music Analysis and Ethnomusicology Forum for example); larger studies like my book length work on Mozart’s Fantasia K.475 and my application of Martin Clayton’s Embodiment Theory to a variety of classical and popular pieces are equally being shaped for publication in monograph format. Copy at your own risk! If caught – the ramifications and penalties are severe. Plus, there is a certain code of honour in both academic scholarship (especially this) and also high level journalistic writing – you can’t sleep at night if you haven’t made an original contribution to knowledge at the highest level that is really YOURS. Good luck with the conscience!
Plagiarism is for lazy losers – don’t be one. Enjoy and be inspired by my work, reference it, use it correctly and professionally. Acknowledge it, critique it. But don’t steal it or pass it off as your own! And don’t be a lazy ideas thief either! There is a nobility to devising original ideas and cultivating high level research topics – observe the scholarly and journalistic moral code at all times. If your own work is academic and focused on music analytical or (ethno)musicological topics and is equally disseminated via your website/blog and the internet alongside the usual academic channels, and you’d like to let me know about it, then get in touch via the website.
To everyone else, I can’t be bothered worrying about plagiarism and copycats. Life’s too short. There’s so much work that I’ve already done that is waiting to be read by students and people who lack the knowledge and the means to access it. Much of what this website is about is for them.