A Case of "Gray Plagiarism" from the History of the History of Computing
MetadataShow full item record
Claiming as one's own what one knows to be the discovery of another is certainly plagiarism. But what about merely failing to acknowledge the work of another where one does not give the impression that the discovery is one's own? Does it matter how easy it was to make the discovery? This paper analyzes a case in this gray area in academic ethics. The focus is not on the failure to attribute itself but on the attempt of an independent scholar who, believing himself to be the victim of "gray plagiarism”, sought a forum in which to make his complaint. The story could be told from several perspectives. I shall tell it primarily from the perspective of the complainant, an outsider, because I believe that way of telling it best reveals the need to think more deeply about how we (acting for the universities to which we belong) assign credit, especially to scholars outside, and about how we respond when someone complains of a failure to assign credit. My purpose is not to indict individuals but to change a system. This paper updates a case I first described in 1993.