Reading Response 8

Collaboration or Plagiarism?

Does plagiarism exist anymore? Collaboration is at an all time high because of the growing use and abilities of technology. It’s easier than ever to pull ideas from multiple places making them one’s own ideas. After all at what point is an idea your own? We’ve been taught to give credit to the person(s) where we found an idea so as not to take credit that does not belong to us. If someone else has put in the time and effort to do the research they deserve recognition. Collaboration is making plagiarism more of a grey area than black and white like in the past.

Plagiarism seems easy to avoid. You find an idea in an article or book or on a website and decide to use it in your own writing so you reference the source where you found the idea. That seems simple enough and should not be hard to do. Hollis Phelps’s wrote an essay about a philosopher and cultural critic he admired who was accused of plagiarism. Phelps said “I would suggest that underneath a lot of the dissatisfaction among fans and critics are unrealistic expectations of what it means to be a scholar and to produce scholarly work” (2014). Because the accusation of plagiarism can be detrimental to someone’s career he seems to desire to defend the possible reasons for why it may have happened in this case.

Do we cite everything we actually read and include in our own writings? We make sure we cite the scholarly sources but what about when we Google to understand something we are including in our writings? We research what we need to know from one or more secondary sources and put in our own words to make it ours. Is it ours or plagiarism or collaboration? In an interview with Clay Shirky he describes collaboration with a radio-controlled car. He describes how the shell for the 3-D car was printed but was too heavy. Other people suggested making some changes and eventually getting it to the point it worked. More than one person had an input making it a collaborative effort (2014). The car was put together with a piece from here and there so no one person got credit for it. The same with his description of Wikipedia, people can go in and add more information to it.

As important as it is to give credit where credit is due collaboration challenges that. It is just as important as ever to give credit to the appropriate person(s). If we are not the expert in the field then we do not have the right to take the credit because we are not the ones who discovered the information.

Phelps, Hollis. “Žižek, Plagiarism and the Lowering of Expectations.” Inside Higher Education. July 17 2014.Web. <>.

Shirky, C. (2014, March). The disruptive power of collaboration: An interview with Clay Shirky [Interview by Michael Chui]. Retrieved from


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