Effective from January 2015
pla·gia·rize (verb \ˈplā-jə-ˌrīz also -jē-ə-): to use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own words or ideas
You can find the formal definition here
Plagiarism involves students copy assignments from each other or from Internet sources. This creates an unfair situation between hardworking students and the students that resort to these unethical practices. With plagiarism, the concept of assigning grades to students purely based on their competence and ability turns out to be meaningless. Plagiarism discourages hard work among students, even leading to depression among genuine students. Last but not the least, this acts as an unnecessary digression as well as a serious impediment in the plans to faculty who invest a lot of their time and effort in designing world-class courses.
In all the courses of CSE department of IITH, cases of plagiarism will be dealt with severely: the case will be referred to DUGC/DPGC and could be referred to the institute wide disciplinary action committee; the recommendations of the committees could range from awarding FS/FR, suspension for a period of time to even expulsion from the institute. Any student found indulging in plagiarism of any kind would receive an FR for the course. At any time of the course, the faculty reserve the right to check the students’ submission and take necessary action as they deem it fit.
A Friendly Advice to Students
As written above, the department has the means, as well as the will to detect and punish students involved in plagiarism; this includes code that you submit for assignments and projects. The overall mantra for plagiarism is the following: please submit only the work that is genuinely your own. Any submission that you do for any class, will be subject to the same scrutiny. The above punishments seem harsh, but, please do understand that they are on par with the punishments meted out to offenders by many good universities all across the world.
- “How different are you going to consider different forms of plagiarism (software plagiarism vs. homework plagiarism vs. exam copying)?”
Same. Software plagiarism is an important aspect of the above policy. It will be subject to the same level of scrutiny.
- “How are you going to detect software plagiarism?”
We have advanced software tools to detect software plagiarism. These tools use highly complex algorithms which go well beyond any usual techniques that the students can think of to hide their plagiarization. In general, please do not enquire too much into this question so as to find a means to outwit the tools. Because the tools are ever improving, and detection could be applied retroactively, it is plainly stupid to think that one can get away easily. Instead of thinking of methods to outwit the system, you are better off working on the assignment yourself.
- “I referred to the web sources. Does this constitute plagiarism?”
Yes indeed. It is quite foolish to assume that you can “google for code” and sail through the assignments in an institute like IITH. In general, when an assignment is given, keep yourself away from the urge to “google for the code” unless it has been explicitly allowed by the instructor.
- “I saw my friend’s code and later wrote my own code”. “I discussed the code with my friend. Later, both of us wrote our individual codes.”
Yes and No. The similarity in code is the only aspect that both of you will be evaluated.
The general directive in this is that discussion of ideas/algorithms is fine. It is also fine if you discuss the code as well, but, as it turns out, it is likely that if you plan out everything along with another student or members(s) from others groups, it is highly likely that the codes will be quite similar.
- “Is it OK to to upload by sources to a publicly available code-sharing facility like github?”
We would advise against such move. If your classmates copy from your publicly available code, it will still be considered as plagiarism and both of you will be penalized. The department would not concern itself with things like upload dates to the repository etc.
If you however want to share the code with only your assignment teammates, please use a password protected private repository.
Common Excuses of Software Plagiarism and their Pitfalls
- “Quiz me on any section of my code. I can explain it sufficiently well enough to prove that I have not plagiarized it.”
No. This is not acceptable.
Programming assignments for a CS student are mostly about programming, and not about code-understanding. Programs in Computer Science are like proofs in mathematics. It may be quite easy to read a proof in a mathematics textbook and explain its idea, while coming up with it on your own is considerably much more difficult. Similarly, designing and implementing new programs is considerably much more difficult than reading existing ones and understanding/explaining them.
We also feel that quizzing selected students about their code-understanding while asking the class to write the code tips the evaluation strategy unfairly.
- “I do not understand the definition of plagiarism. So please excuse me this time.”
No. This is not acceptable. The onus is on you to find out what constitutes plagiarism and adhere to the code of conduct.
- “I don’t know how she got my code.”
No. This is not acceptable. It is your responsibility to keep your work/passwords etc. secure.
- “This is my first time. I’m a bright kid. And it’s just one assignment we are talking about. Please forgive.”
No. This is not acceptable. Particularly after reading this document