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

Edited by Carol P. Haviland and Joan A. Mullin

Reviewed by Erin M. Presley
Eastern Kentucky University

Collaboration as Common Ground

Even though the essays in this collection considered citation practices in several disciplines, they shared much in common. They all emphasized the role of collaboration among faculty in the studied fields and the general lack of discipline-specific writing instruction offered to students. The chapters all seemed to agree that the lack of writing instruction stems from the faculty’s own experiences as students. For example, Mullin pointed out that less than one percent of the visual art faculty she interviewed had any formal training in citation practices (p. 117). In a similar vein, Bergmann discussed how new administrators must learn how to transition from their discipline’s discourse community to the administrative discourse community; most new administrators learn the ropes from seasoned administrators through mentoring, further establishing the role of direct instruction and collaboration (p. 137).

Collaboration proved to be the thread that runs through all of the collected essays. From the shared toolbox in CS to the dozens of biologists involved in collecting and presenting data, none of the outcomes from the disciplines highlighted in these studies represented the fruits of one person’s labor. Rather, these studies revealed how dependent these fields are on collaboration, making the disconnect between the actual work faculty do in their fields and the work the same faculty ask students to complete in the classroom painfully incongruous. All of these essays urged faculty to reconsider the traditional valuation of individual work over collaborative endeavors in their pedagogy. If faculty discussed and made transparent the collaborative and sometimes complicated nature of discipline-specific work, they could teach issues related to intellectual property, ownership, and citation in a more meaningful way than by focusing on catching plagiarists.