Collaboration and Independent Work

The university's job is to come up with new ideas. Along with that comes giving credit for those ideas to the people who actually thought them up. That's why plagiarism is such a big deal: It means taking credit for ideas that aren't your own. When you turn work in, you're saying "I (and my group members) made this myself," except for parts that you credit to someone else (e.g., "I got the searching code from a posting at stackoverflow by").

In this course, some assignments require you to write your own code. Others allow you to use code from elsewhere, provided that you cite its source. If you adopt or adapt someone else's code, so that what's in your work is changed from the original, you still have to cite the original as your source or inspiration. In the classroom context, having someone else do work you're supposed to do interferes with the accurate assessment of your work in the class. Even more important, it interferes with the mental effort that's necessary for you to build the neural connections that result in your learning the course material. If you want to learn, you have to put in the personal effort. If you want to get in shape, you can't do it by hiring someone to do your exercise for you.

If you're required to write your own code, and instead you use code you find on line, but you cite the source of that code you found, you may get a low score for not having written it yourself, but you won't get into trouble for academic dishonesty. If you're permitted to use code from an outside source but you don't cite that source, you may get into trouble for academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty trouble is very painful; imagine having to tell your friends or parents that you're not in school one quarter because you were suspended for that reason. If you're desperately trying to complete a class that you're doing poorly in, the first course of action is to do some work and get some help so you do better. But if that fails, it's better to get a zero on an assignment and a low course grade than to risk a dishonesty case (which would leave you with a grade that's probably even lower, plus all the other consequences).

We wish we didn't have to make such a big point about this, but the reality is that in nearly every class where the instructor looks for them, cases of academic dishonesty are found. Don't let that be you.

Reference: ICS and UCI honesty policies.

David G. Kay,
Sunday, January 4, 2015 8:57 PM