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Who Owns This Text?

Who Owns This Text?: Plagiarism, Authorship, and Disciplinary Cultures

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 196
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  • Book Info
    Who Owns This Text?
    Book Description:

    Carol Haviland, Joan Mullin, and their collaborators report on a three-year interdisciplinary interview project on the subject of plagiarism, authorship, and "property," and how these are conceived across different fields. The study investigated seven different academic fields to discover disciplinary conceptions of what types of scholarly production count as "owned." Less a research report than a conversation, the book offers a wide range of ideas, and the chapters here will provoke discussion on scholarly practice relating to intellectual property, plagiarism, and authorship---and to how these matters are conveyed to students. Although these authors find a good deal of consensus in regard to the ethical issues of plagiarism, they document a surprising variety of practice on the subject of what ownership looks like from one discipline to another. And they discover that students are not often instructed in the conventions of their major field.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-729-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

  1. INTRODUCTION: Connecting Plagiarism, Intellectual Property, and Disciplinary Habits
    (pp. 1-19)
    Carol Peterson Haviland and Joan A. Mullin

    The concept of ownership has become increasingly important in the teaching of writing, particularly as university faculty members encourage students to study and write collaboratively and to use the increasingly rich and available range of electronic resources. On many campuses, undergraduates and their instructors expect that first-year writing courses will teach students to discover, select, and cite resources appropriately. Thus, believing that students will have learned this “somewhere else,” faculty often assume that plagiarism of any kind can and should be eliminated chiefly by using detection services such as and that failure to acknowledge sources should be punished as...

  2. 1 OPEN SOURCERY: Computer Science and the Logic of Ownership
    (pp. 20-48)
    Marvin Diogenes, Andrea Lunsford and Mark Otuteye

    This chapter participates in an increasingly important and sometimes acrimonious debate over how texts can be best circulated, shared, and, when appropriate, owned. Of course, these issues of textual and now digital ownership are not new. They have grown up, in fact, alongside print literacy, capitalism, and commodification, with copyright protection growing ever more powerful: the current protection extends to life plus seventy years for individuals or ninety-five years for corporate entities.

    With the rise of the Internet and the Web, many hoped for a new era of democratization of texts that would challenge the power of traditional copyright: anyone...

  3. 2 COLLABORATIVE AUTHORSHIP IN THE SCIENCES: Anti-ownership and Citation Practices in Chemistry and Biology
    (pp. 49-79)
    Lise Buranen and Denise Stephenson

    Some years ago at a national writing conference, researchers reported on a campus-wide study of faculty understandings of plagiarism: not only did they find that scientists rejected the use of quotation marks, but also they learned that verbatim copying from textbooks was fine with them because they believed textbooks contained only “common knowledge.” Corroboration of this finding has proven elusive over the intervening years, but this indication of how diverse the understandings of plagiarism can be has led to many interesting conversations with science and non-science faculty. While no one we interviewed in biology or chemistry was accepting of students’...

  4. 3 STUDYING WITH FIELDWORKERS: Archaeology and Sociology
    (pp. 80-104)
    Mary R. Boland and Carol Peterson Haviland

    Our study of fieldworkers emerges from the project outlined by this volume and a mutual interest in the role of discourse and writing in the creation of knowledge. We were curious about how scholars identify what is theirs and how these understandings inform their own citation practices and their teaching about plagiarism, questions we believe are intimately tied to issues of discipline-based epistemology. In other words, we were interested in how the language that other scholars use to talk about their subjects might embed the habits of mind and practices that animate scholarly work in those fields, including the ways...

  5. 4 APPROPRIATION, HOMAGE, AND PASTICHE: Using Artistic Tradition to Reconsider and Redefine Plagiarism
    (pp. 105-128)
    Joan A. Mullin

    Artists who work in visual media have always built on a tradition of appropriation: painters can speak of impressionists because of common techniques or materials; interior designers can produce French country because they use particular furniture, objects, and patterned fabrics in the room; designers return from a fashion week in Milan ready to mass produce the latest trend; and architects after Frank Lloyd Wright have used cantilevered roofs. Taking such license with visual techniques is understood as artistic tradition and considered by designers and artists as legal appropriation. Besides, “if a design or object too closely resembles another’s work, an...

  6. 5 HIGHER EDUCATION ADMINISTRATION OWNERSHIP, COLLABORATION, AND PUBLICATION: Connecting or Separating the Writing of Administrators, Faculty, and Students?
    (pp. 129-155)
    Linda S. Bergmann

    At regular intervals, scandals involving commencement addresses, speeches, and presentations by college presidents and other administrators are revealed to contain material “lifted” from other sources without attribution. Recently, there were the cases of Scott D. Miller, the president of Wesley College, (; Walter Wendler, the chancellor of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; and Vaughn Vandegrift, the chancellor of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Academics have little sympathy for administrators who “plagiarize” speeches or presentations, and the latter case aroused not only the ire of faculty at that university but also considerable outrage on the Writing Program Administrators discussion list in July of...

  7. CONCLUSION: Rethinking Our Use of “Plagiarism”
    (pp. 156-177)
    Carol Peterson Haviland and Joan A. Mullin

    We began this research hoping that defining disciplinary ownership would lead us to richer understandings of plagiarism, collaboration, and intellectual property and thus to more effective ways of teaching students about these issues. And indeed it has. It also has demonstrated the complexity, flexibility, and plasticity of information sharing, challenging our definitions of “intellectual property” and “plagiarism” even further than expected. Although from the beginning, we have been chiefly interested in what our colleagues say, what they do, and how they communicate ownership practices to their students rather than with the legal wrangling over IP, our interviews mirrored the disputes...

  8. Appendix A: Common Research Questions—Intellectual Property and Plagiarism
    (pp. 178-179)
  9. APPENDIX B: “Common” Knowledge
    (pp. 180-184)