How to Avoid Plagiarism for Computer Codes....forstudents

Cabus, Michael CabusM at PHILAU.EDU
Wed May 21 09:46:57 EDT 2014

I re-read my response, and need to revise my “code”.

I meant to say, if students send a code sample without citing it, it will look sloppy.  Which shows details are important, but a rare commodity. Writing that was a lesson to me as a programmer—it is easy to get into bad habits, but articulating what you value helps you get out of them (creating and academic writing, and programmer are a great pair, like peanut butter and jelly, but that is a different topic).

Hope everyone is well,


Systems Librarian, Paul J. Gutman Library
Philadelphia University
Phone. 215.951.5365

From: Web technologies in libraries [mailto:WEB4LIB at LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of William Gunn
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 9:07 AM
Subject: Re: [WEB4LIB] How to Avoid Plagiarism for Computer Codes....forstudents

I were teaching the class, I would point out that almost all coding they'll do professionally with copy liberally from others. You do need to explain about licenses, of course.

If you want to make sure they understand how to write a loop or something, you can ask them to not copy for the purposes of the exercise, and penalize those who do copy for not following instructions, but please don't confuse things by bringing plagiarism into it. It really is a meaningless concept in this domain.

Just my $0.02...

William Gunn | Head of Academic Outreach, Mendeley | +1 650 614 1749
On May 21, 2014 2:33 PM, "Hockenberry, Benjamin" <bhockenberry at<mailto:bhockenberry at>> wrote:

The second example given in the UPenn "Avoiding Plagiarism:  Writing Computer Code" you mentioned ( seems to define code plagiarism in a disconcerting way.  The code in "Unacceptable example 2" shares *meaning* (does this mean “function?”) with the example in the textbook, but its structure is significantly different.

I would be very averse to such a plagiarism detection system if it were implemented programmatically.  There are many ways to write a while loop, but the discussion at the U Penn site says that logical equivalency (in a sense, “meaning”) equals plagiarism.  The similarity between student responses to a common assignment (like looping through an array) would cause every student to fail such a plagiarism test, and under many academic institutions’ academic integrity policies, this could be grounds for dismissal after only one or two occurrences.

Attribution should be given in code, yes.  But I’m wary of this “structure and meaning” argument when it comes to functional similarities.  Is this discussion precipitated by the Oracle-Google lawsuits, Joyce?

Ben Hockenberry, Systems Librarian
Lavery Library, St. John Fisher College | 3690 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 385-8382<tel:%28585%29%20385-8382> | bhockenberry at<mailto:bhockenberry at>

From: Web technologies in libraries [mailto:WEB4LIB at LISTSERV.ND.EDU<mailto:WEB4LIB at LISTSERV.ND.EDU>] On Behalf Of James MacDonald
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:19 AM
Subject: Re: [WEB4LIB] How to Avoid Plagiarism for Computer Codes....forstudents

I must disagree... the use of other people's work should be cited including coding. Here is a nice academic integrity handbook from MIT:

There are times when citing is not necessary - such as factual common knowledge - for example, the capital of Canada is Ottawa. Neither would you cite say a for loop for iterating through and array.

Attribution should be given where it is due even for those small snippets of code (without which your code would be useless).

James MacDonald
Web Services Librarian
University Library

Tel +971 6 515 2270<tel:%2B971%206%20515%202270>
Fax  +971 6 558 5008<tel:%2B971%206%20558%205008>
American University of Sharjah
PO Box 26666, Sharjah
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jmacdonald at<mailto:jmacdonald at>

On May 21, 2014, at 3:48 PM, Forrest, Stuart <sforrest at BCGOV.NET<mailto:sforrest at BCGOV.NET>> wrote:

Yes the whole point of modern programming is code reuse.

Stuart Forrest PhD
Beaufort County Library
South Carolina
843 255 6450<tel:843%20255%206450>
For Learning, For Liesure, For Life.

Sent from my iPad

On May 21, 2014, at 6:31 AM, "Riley Childs" <riley at TFSGEO.COM<mailto:riley at TFSGEO.COM><mailto:riley at TFSGEO.COM>> wrote:

Most of the time coding takes bits and pieces, sometimes even entire files! Do you mean citing your sources per se?

Riley Childs
Asst. Head of IT Services
Charlotte United Christian Academy
(704) 497-2086<tel:%28704%29%20497-2086><><<>>
Sent from my Windows Phone, please excuse mistakes
From: William Gunn<mailto:william.gunn at MENDELEY.COM>
Sent: ‎5/‎21/‎2014 4:15 AM
Subject: Re: [WEB4LIB] How to Avoid Plagiarism for Computer Codes....forstudents

Joyce, there's no concept of plagiarism in writing software that I'm aware of.

Did you mean a different kind of programming code?

William Gunn | Head of Academic Outreach, Mendeley | @mrgunn | (650) 614-1749<tel:%28650%29%20614-1749>

On Tue, May 20, 2014 at 2:59 PM, Joyce Wong <joyce.wong at<mailto:joyce.wong at><mailto:joyce.wong at>> wrote:
Hi everyone

Apologies for any duplication.

Does anyone have an online guide on avoiding plagiarism specifically on programming codes for students?  Our Computer Science Department is interested in developing one and I'd rather not re-invent the wheel.
I have already found the page from University Pennsylvania.

Thank you

Joyce Wong
Coordinator of User Experience
Langara College Library. 100 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Y 2Z6
T: 604-323-5047<tel:604-323-5047><tel:604-323-5047>
F: 604-323-5512<tel:604-323-5512><tel:604-323-5512>
joyce.wong at<mailto:joyce.wong at><mailto:joyce.wong at>

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