Wednesday, March 30, 2016

More Accusations of Plagiarism Leveled at Barry Ewell

Do Not CopyAccusations of plagiarism have once again been made against author, speaker, and website publisher, Barry Ewell.

On 11 March 2016, Thomas MacEntee presented evidence of alleged plagiarism by Barry Ewell of information written by Kimberly Powell. See “Review: Google Guide for Genealogy: 1001 Ways to Search the Internet Like a Genealogist,” GeneaBloggers (http://www.geneabloggers.com). Thomas purchased a copy of Barry’s book, Google Guide for Genealogy: 1001 Ways to Search the Internet Like a Genealogist. In reviewing the content he found “much of the information can easily be located on the Internet, including entire articles by other authors.” As an example, Thomas presented a side-by-side comparison of about 20 paragraphs from a Kimberly Powell article, copied without attribution. Thomas verified with Kimberly that she had not given permission to Barry to copy her work. Here are a few of the paragraphs Thomas presented:

Kimberly Powell Barry Ewell Alleged Plagiarism
Step One: Search for the Source Step One: Search for the Source
Whether its a personal Web page or a subscription
genealogy database, all online data should include a list
of sources. The key word here is should. You will find
many resources that don’t. Once you find a record of
your great, great grandfather online, however, the first
step is to try and locate the source of that information.
Whether it’s a personal web page or a subscription
genealogy database, all online data should include a list
of sources. The key word here is should. You will find
many resources that don’t. Once you find a record of
your great, great grandfather online, however, the first
step is to try and locate the source of that information.
   Look for source citations and references – often noted
as footnotes at the bottom of the page, or at the end
(last page) of the publication
1. Look for source citations and references – often noted
as footnotes at the bottom of the page, or at the end
(last page) of the publication.
Check for notes or comments 2. Check for notes or comments.

This is not the first time Barry has published a book containing information copied from the web without attribution. In 2012 Barry Ewell published a book that copies from the website of the 1997 KBYU Ancestors series.

KBYU Ancestors Series Website Barry Ewell Book
The content varies somewhat by religion with
Scandinavian Lutheran, for instance, generally
providing more details.
Information will vary somewhat by religion, with
Scandinavian and Lutheran, for instance, generally
providing more details.
Minutes or communicant lists can also be
helpful in reconstructing family history. The sudden
disappearance of a couple from the list may signify their
departure from the community. The disappearance of
one but not the other may indicate death, an important
clue if the death records no longer exist. They may
also contain information as to where some moved…
They also help you to learn more about
what your ancestors were like and how they worshiped.
Minutes or Communicant Lists. These records can be
helpful in reconstructing family history. The
disappearance of a couple from the list may signify their
departure from the community. The disappearance of
one but not the other may indicate death, an important
clue if the death records no longer exist. These lists may
also provide insight as to where persons have moved.
These records also help to build a picture of
what your ancestors were like and how they worshipped.
Source: “Other Church Records,” Ancestors (http://www.byub.org/ancestors/records/religious/intro4.html). Source: Barry J. Ewell, Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering Your Family History (Cedar Fort, Utah: Plain Cite Publishing, 2012), 326; digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=mjkJ0TmDOu4C).

Other parts are obvious copies as well. The list of denominational archives on pp. 81-2 of Barry’s book is such an exact copy of the list at http://www.byub.org/ancestors/records/religious/extra.html, he even copied the alphabetization problems of the BYU website.

Barry Ewell has also copied information from the web for newspaper articles. On 27 April 2013, the Salt Lake City Deseret News published a story written by Barry Ewell titled “Genealogy: Use and Record What You Learn.” The editor has appended this notice:

Editor's note: The original version of this story posted on April 27, 2013, failed to properly attribute all source materials, which violates our editorial policies. The story was revised on March 19, 2014, and attribution to original sources were added. A version of this column also appeared in the print edition of the Deseret News on August 8, 2013. The Deseret News demands accuracy in attribution and sourcing and considers any lapses to be a serious breach of ethics. The Deseret News is no longer publishing Barry J. Ewell's writings. (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865579049)

That story presently attributes information to a FamilySearch wiki article, “A Guide to Research.” (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/A_Guide_to_Research)

The Deseret News published another Barry Ewell article on 6 July 2013 (“Genealogy: Five steps to finding ancestors”) which now bears the same notice (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865582698). That story presently attributes information to the same FamilySearch Wiki article.

The Deseret News published another Barry Ewell article on 7 September 2013 (“Use Your Camera to Document Family History Research”) which now bears the same notice (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865585957). That story presently attributes information to a Dennis Ridenour article published in the 1 February 2003 issue of UpFront with NGS newsletter (http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/NGS/2003-02/1044160664) and a Maureen Taylor article, “Tips for Photographing Gravestones: Documenting Without Damage” (http://www.genealogy.com/articles/research/64_gravestones.html).

Sound like a broken record?

The Deseret News published another Barry Ewell article on 14 September 2013 (“Share Oral History Between Generations”) which now bears the same notice (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865586360). That story presently contains one unattributed quote and attributes a FamilySearch wiki article, “Involve Children and Youth in Family History” (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Involve_Children_and_Youth_in_Family_History). Ironically, an Iranian website plagiarized Barry’s original article, should you wish to read it. (Google search for “ever be grateful that I was able to visit my relatives in Iceland.”)

The Deseret News published another Barry Ewell article on 30 November 2013 (“Sharing family history: Write and share your story”) which now bears the same notice (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865591494). That story presently attributes information to FamilySearch, Kimberly Powell, Laura Weldon, Lorelle VanFossen, and a Ginger Hamer.

Barry Ewell has also copied information from the web for his videos, according to Thomas MacEntee in a 10 March 2014 article titled “Plagiarism: A Venereal Disease in the Genealogy Community” (http://www.geneabloggers.com/genealogy-plagiarism-venereal-disease/).

One trick that Ewell uses is to embed content in videos – content which is not easy to compare with an original source since much of it is in the form of audio or images: Listen to the audio at http://genealogybybarry.com/7-slideshow-series/arician-american-research/ and then read http://www.prattlibrary.org/locations/afam/index.aspx?id=3000#Why.

On 6 July 2013, DearMYRTLE published an example alleging Barry Ewell had plagiarized Cyndi Howells’ interview on the Ancestors television show. (See “Is There Such a Thing as Ethical Plagiarism?” on DearMyrtle: Your Friend in Genealogy Since 1995.)

Cyndi Howell Barry Ewell Alleged Plagiarism
It is important to know that vital records searches are
most useful for finding relatively recent information.
With some exceptions,
most U.S. states did not assume legal responsibility for
vital records until around the turn of the last century.
The first to start keeping vital records was
Massachusetts in 1841 and the last was New Mexico in
1920.
It is important to know that vital record searches are
most useful for finding relatively recent information.

Most US states did not assume legal responsibility for
vital records until around 1900.
The first state to start keeping vital records was
Massachusetts in 1841, and the last was New Mexico in
1920.

Barry also copies other people’s information for his blog. Consider a single article, “Sharing Family History: Write and Share Your Story” (http://genealogybybarry.com/sharing-family-history-3-write-share-story/ : 21 November 2015). As of the date of this writing, none have attribution even though Barry copied the entire article almost word-for-word.

Originals Barry Ewell Blog

Create a Family Newsletter
Consider creating a family newsletter. Get others
involved. Be creative. A well-written newsletter is a
wonderful way of keeping families together. Newsletters
can include stories about an ancestor or share research
successes and assignments. You might have an entire
issue dedicated to family history or a regular feature on
family history…

Create a Family Web site
A family Web site is a wonderful way of involving family
members who have computer skills. Let them design,
create, and maintain the Web site, while you and others
contribute the information. The Web site …
encourage extended family members to take an interest in the family’s history. …

Write a Family History Book
A family history book is a major undertaking, but it
might provide a wonderful opportunity to involve
extended family members. You might ask them to
contribute information on their own family or research
information on a specific ancestral family.

Source: “Involve Your Extended Family in Family History,” FamilySearch [Wiki] (https://familysearch.org/wiki : rev 14:33, 30 May 2012).

Create a family newsletter
Consider creating a family newsletter. Get others
involved. Be creative. A well-written newsletter is a
great way of keeping families together. Newsletters
can include stories about an ancestor or share research
successes and assignments. You might have an entire
issue dedicated to family history or a regular feature on
family history…

Create a family web site
A family Web site is a great way of involving family
members who have computer skills. Let them design,
create, and maintain the Web site, while you and others
contribute the information.  The website …
encourage extended family members to take an interest
in the family’s history.

Write a family history book
A family history book is a major undertaking, but it
might provide a wonderful opportunity to involve
extended family members. You might ask them to
contribute information on their own family or research
information on a specific ancestral family.

Scrapbook Your Family Heritage
The perfect place to showcase and protect your precious
family photos, heirlooms, and memories, a heritage
scrapbook album…

Source: Kimberly Powell, “10 Ways to Celebrate Family History Month,” About Parenting http://genealogy.about.com/od/holidays/tp/family-history-month.htm : rev. 29 October 2014), no. 6.

Scrapbook your family heritage
Showcase and protect your precious
family photos, heirlooms, and memories in a heritage
scrapbook album.

Develop a book of family lore.
Compile family recipes and any anecdotes that go with
these foods. Add family sayings, funny stories,
traditions, timelines, anything you’d like to record for
coming generations.

Source: “26 Ways to Make History Relevant,” Laura Grace Weldon (http://lauragraceweldon.com/2011/08/10/making-history-relevant/ : 10 August 2011).
Develop a book of family lore
Compile family recipes and any anecdotes that go with
these foods. Add family sayings, funny stories,
traditions, timelines, anything you’d like to record for
coming generations.

A family history blog is a chronological posting of
articles, stories, news, tips, and information on the
family’s history. The website is dynamic, with the front
page changing with the addition of new material. It is
also interactive, as comments are allowed, giving
people an opportunity to comment and give feedback on
the information you have to offer. A family history blog
can be maintained by one person or dozens.

Source: Lorelle VanFossen, “What Do You Put Into Your Family History Blog?” Family History (http://family.cameraontheroad.com : 30 January 2007).
Write a family history blog
A family history blog is a chronological posting of
articles, stories, news, tips, and information on the
family’s history. The website is dynamic, with the front
page changing with the addition of new material. It is
also interactive, as comments are allowed; giving people an opportunity to comment and give feedback on
the information you have to offer. A family history blog
can be maintained by one person or dozens.


Sundays are a good time for making weekly entries. Remember to make it a family rule that each person’s journal is private and must not be read without the owner’s permission.

If your children are too young to keep journals
themselves, you can start a notebook for them.
Use plastic protector sheets to preserve birth
certificates, blessing and baptism certificates, and
other important papers.
Ask your young child to tell about an event in his own
words and write it down for him.
Each year on the child’s birthday write a short history
of the preceding year, recalling the child’s growth and
recording amusing anecdotes so quickly forgotten
otherwise.

Source: Ginger Hamer, “Family Fun with Genealogy,” Ensign, online edition (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1984/09/family-fun-with-genealogy : September 1984).

Encourage family members to keep journals
Sundays are a good time for making weekly entries.
Remember to make it a family rule that each person’s
journal is private and must not be read without the
owner’s permission.

If your children are too young to keep journals
themselves, you can start a notebook for them.
* Use plastic protector sheets to preserve birth
certificates, blessing and baptism certificates, and
other important papers.
* Ask your young child to tell about an event in his own
words and write it down for him.
* Each year on the child’s birthday write a short history
of the preceding year, recalling the child’s growth and
recording amusing anecdotes so quickly forgotten
otherwise.

These examples have been easy to find, but I’ve run out of time. I will leave you with one final example.

Michael Hait reported on 7 July 2013 that some of his work had been plagiarized by Barry Ewell. (See “Copyright, Plagiarism, and Citing Your Sources” on Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as Profession.) In the slides attached to the blog post, he presented side by side comparisons to illustrate the plagiarism. For example, one set of slides shows this:

Michael Hait Barry Ewell Alleged Plagiarism
GET LOCAL Get local
Know the geography of the area in which your ancestors
lived, not just physical terrain but also political
jurisdictions.
Know the geography of the area in which your ancestors
lived, not just physical terrain but also political
jurisdictions.
Know the laws that governed your ancestors’ time. Know
the local history – the local leaders, the local churches,
the common occupations of the area at that time.
Know the laws that governed your ancestors’ time. Know
the local history – the local leaders, the local churches,
the common occupations of the area at that time
All of these help to recreate the world in which your
ancestors lived, and all of your “evidence” was created.
All of these help to recreate the world in which your
ancestors lived, and all of your “evidence” that was
created

After 26 slides of comparisons, Michael asks, “Plagiarism? You Be the Judge.”

 


Note: Sources are either cited inline or, in the cases of examples from other websites, cited in those respective articles. All websites were accessed the weekend of 27 March 2016. The illustration comes from Merlin2525, “Do Not Copy Business Stamp 2,” Openclipart (https://openclipart.org/detail/172061).

16 comments:

  1. Mr. Ewell is by no means the only plagiarist and/or copyright-violator, although he has become the poster-ogre for the practice. DearMYRT suggested that the organizers of major conferences and institutes do more careful vetting for such perpetrators when considering putting programs together.

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  2. Agreed - any conference or institute organizer, any online education company, and any publisher needs to be vigilant. If a copyright violation and/or plagiarism is brought to their attention, they need to take action and that person should not have a platform to continue acting unprofessionally. Sad that this had to be written and worse - he is not the only genealogist or family historian doing it. But WOW this article shows that even knowing about it, some newspapers and companies turn a blind eye to it.

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  3. Thanks for bringing this to public attention; I've wondered how Ewell can be so prolific in those email newsletters and this explains it. Interesting that this has been on the radar for a few years but he continues to publish and present.

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  4. I was a reader of Mr. Ewell's blog when I read about Cyndi Howell's law suit against him. I was and am a fan not only of the service Ms. Howell provides, but her attitude of helping the genealogy community with quality work turned out by her and her elves, and by not requiring a cent from us (though it would be appreciated and well used). I don't understand why Mr. Ewell seems repeatedly to use the work of others, I just hope we continue to be notified by the Insider and other bloggers about anyone plagiarizing. Those people haven't earned the right to our money, much less our attention.

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  5. Perhaps a blog is not the best place to put someone on trial and convict him/her. Reporting and commenting on evidence is one thing; assuming the accusations are correct and convicting the person online is a separate issue. As I recall, a top BYU official and authors including Doris Kearns Goodwin have been accused of plagiarism but were given a bit more leeway in explaining themselves. (All it takes is one untrained or sloppy research assistant/co-author.) I'm not an apologist for plagiarism, not at all, but I also understand that once you destroy someone's name and reputation, it can't be fixed.

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  6. This appears to be a conscious and sustained effort on Mr. Ewell's part to take the work of others and reuse it without regard to ethics or laws that restrict such practices. I don't know but I suspect that the terms of the out-of-court settlement with Cyndi Ingle included not disclosing settlement details and neither party speak disparagingly in public of the other. In any case, no public account of the settlement has ever surfaced. After doing some research on my own, I made up my mind not to support anyone who felt it was OK to borrow the work of others without attribution. This was clearly not something you could blame on the "help" or an momentary lapse. I wrote to Mr. Ewell about my concerns and asked him to explain himself. Not surprisingly he has never acknowledged what he did or expressed regret over what he did.

    Some of the incidences of plagiarism I was aware of but I had not realized he was suspended by the Deseret News for the same offense. If Mr. Ewell's reputation has been destroyed, he only has himself to blame.

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  7. Thank you for writing about this and calling out plagiarism!

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  8. Thanks for this post...plagiarism is also a problem on history sites, especially ones dealing with local history. As a grad student of historic preservation, I had written a historic preservation plan for my neighborhood. I made the mistake of sharing this on the neighborhood association website. About a year later, I helped found a local history group, and established a Facebook page for the group. A "historian" shared a history of the neighborhood on the page. The "history" sounded oddly familiar to me, so I googled part of a paragraph--and discovered he had lifted it from my paper. In the meantime, others on the Facebook page congratulated him on what a great historian he was. Long story short, many in the neighborhood got angry at *me* because I pointed out it was my own writing, and I requested they cite sources. What was the right thing to do here...honestly I wish I had never spoken up about it...

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  9. What could be honorable in making public suppositions such as "I don't know but I suspect that the terms of the out-of-court settlement with Cyndi Ingle..."? If you don't know, you don't know. If the parties wanted you to know, they'd tell you. You might find it interesting to spend some time studying libel and defamation laws -- your suppositions of Barry Ewell's intent and your aspersions about his character could be problematic, even if he did engage in plagiarism. (But my caution is not popular here, so never mind.)

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  10. Plagiarism happens in the beading world as well. Patterns are changed just a tiny tiny bit and put out as new work. One instance came from the Ukraine. Lazy foxes!

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  11. Megan Smolenyak has also publicly stated that Barry Ewell copied from her work without giving her the proper credit. These people work so hard to share their information with us, and to steal their work is just inexcusable.

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  12. And the beat goes on. Well said my friend

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  13. And the beat goes on. Well said my friend

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  14. I have accused genealogist Megan Smolneyak of plagiarizing my work, an accusation many genealogists have concurred. She stole information from a website where I had contributed (the Bill Reitweissner site) and used it as her own in a couple of Huffington Post.com articles. I have called her on this many times and people are getting wise to her scams.

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  15. To quote Albert Einstein, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."* At best Mr.Ewell's actions seemingly indicate he requires some serious couch time. The community needs to remove the profit incentive and make it too expensive for Ewell to violate standards in academia, publishing, and copyright & trademark law. When one so egregiously damages the creations of others those victims should seek recompense through litigation. The more suits with which he has to deal the less jingle he'll have in his purse.

    *https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html

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