Appropriations to Think With

Speaker: Prof Mario Biagioli # University of California, Davis

19th Sep 2012

15:30 - 17:00

Seminar Room 1.06, Old Surgeons' Hall

I take the elusive shapes of plagiarism (both its variability across fields and the absence of a definition able to comprehend all such varieties) to be a predicament to think with.  I look at two forms of appropriations in science as they instantiate constructions of plagiarism that are radically different from those discussed in studies of plagiarism in literature, media, or the arts.  In one example I show that plagiarism in science is characterized by the appropriation of ideas rather than expression or their textual representations, thus making the much-hyped use of textual similarity algorithms both irrelevant and counterproductive.  What is appropriated in these cases, I argue, is not text but time – the potential of producing the work.  In the second I discuss the implications of science’s link between credit and priority on the alleged damages of plagiarism of scientific publications, arguing that so-called plagiarism in science is in fact a very different and quite novel economy of publication hinging on a new definition of "the work".