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


Growing out of a conversation that began at the 2002 Conference on College Composition and Communication convention, Who Owns This Text?: Plagiarism, Authorship, and Disciplinary Cultures investigated how conceptions of intellectual property (IP) differ from discipline to discipline. The introduction established what the collection would and would not do. Early on the editors, Carol P. Haviland and Joan A. Mullin made it clear that they would not attend to willful plagiarism or style-specific guidelines (e.g., MLA, APA, etc.). Instead, this study challenged faculty members from a variety of disciplines—including computer science, sociology and archaeology, the biological sciences, the visual arts, and university administration—to think about their own ideas about ownership, their “perceptions of what they own as academics” (p. 2). The collection also “asks what they [faculty] have learned to consider as their intellectual property” and to ponder how issues related to intellectual property figure into the classroom (p. 2). The authors of the collected essays saw the relationship between academics and intellectual property as inextricably linked to the ways in which professors deal with issues of citation, common knowledge, and claims of plagiarism in the classroom. In essence, professors, especially those working in disciplines that rely on collaboration, such as sociology and biomedicine, did not preach what they practice in the classroom by focusing on the “single-author notion” (p. 18). This collection challenged faculty from all fields, including the humanities, to rethink not only their conceptions of ownership and plagiarism but also the way they teach these issues to students who hope to enter a particular field.