Dr. Hansen's Guidelines for Collaboration
To work jointly with others or together esp. in an
I'll begin by presenting my policies for collaboration and then I
will follow up with an informal discussion of collaboration and
academic integrity. Please take note of my policies and procedures
at the end of the page.
First, let me give you a very short list of requirements I expect
all students to abide by:
- Your answers to homework, quizzes, exams, projects, and other
assignments will be your work (except for assignments that
explicitly permit collaboration).
- You will not make solutions to homework, quizzes, exams, projects,
and other assignments available to anyone else (except to the extent
an assignment explicitly permits sharing solutions). This includes
both solutions written by you, as well as any solutions provided by
faculty, staff or others.
- You will not engage in any other activities that will dishonestly
improve your results or dishonestly improve or hurt the results of
- Without exception, the answers provided on tests must be your
own work. You should not seek nor divulge answers to test
questions from any person or resource unless specifically
allowed (e.g., an open-book, open-notes exam). In the event
of a take-home exam, you should not discuss any aspect of the
test with anyone during the exam period, nor should you solicit
answers from any source outside of those provided during the
course (if in doubt, ask). However, asking
clarifying questions about the exam of the instructor is
permitted and encouraged.
Note that obtaining, or providing to others, tests from previous
semesters is a violation of the rules stated above.
- Like tests, unless the work is a team project, all homework
must be your own work. You should not seek specific answers
from other sources (e.g., students, textbook solutions guide,
However, other sources may be used in
helping you arrive at a solution. In addition, I encourage
students to collaborate at a high-level by talking about
homework problems. However, the line here between appropriate
and inappropriate collaboration is hazy. It is certainly
not appropriate to look at or copy the work of
another person, be they a student at GFU or not.
It is appropriate to ask
for help in understanding a concept or
technique necessary to solve a particular problem. It is
not appropriate to have someone help you
solve a nearly identical problem. When in doubt, err on the
cautious side and ask the instructor.
- Programming Assignments
- Good programmers copy, borrow, and collaborate - it is the very
essence of the concept of software reuse we try to promote.
However, like homework, unless the work is a team project,
all programs must be entirely your own work.
Again, the line between
appropriate and inappropriate collaboration is hazy.
- Asking questions about syntax errors
- Helping someone fix syntax errors.
- Using other components in developing your
programs where the the development of that component is
the main purpose of the assignment (e.g., you can use a
class for an Operating Systems programming assignment, but
not to solve a Data Structures assignment on implementing
linked lists). I.e., don't reinvent the wheel unless
learning the principles of a working wheel by
reinventing the wheel is the purpose of the assignment.
Note that I will routinely submit your code to
for automated plagiarism detection comparison to
other student submissions, both past and present.
- Sharing code with others.
- Using the code of others in whole or part - this
includes code or algorithms you've found on the web.
- Identifying or fixing someone's logic errors.
- Discussing or describing an approach to solving a problem
at a high level such as sketching an algorithm or
data structure that might be used.
- Group Projects
- Some projects are performed in groups. Obviously this is an
instance when collaboration is expected within a
group. My only guideline here is that every member of the group ought
to insure that they're contributing equally. Too often only
one or two people carry the project. Group assignments can
be valuable in teaching collaboration but they can also be
an opportunity to rely inappropriately on others to do all of
the work. A person's contribution to a group project will be
taken into consideration when assigning individual grades.
Working together in excess of these guidelines is considered academic
dishonesty and can result in serious discipline. My general policy on
discipline will be the following:
I believe most students would be surprised at how easy it is to detect
plagiarism and collaboration - please don't put me to the test.
Remember, you always have a willing and legal collaborator in
- First Offense
- Everyone involved will receive a score of 0 on the assignment.
This means both the person(s) who did the work as well as the
person(s) who reused the work of others. So beware - letting someone
else use any of your work will result in a 0 for you
as well. In addition, I am required to send a letter to the
Dean of the College of Engineering that documents the episode.
- Subsequent Offenses
- Anyone foolish enough to violate my policies a second time will
"F" for the course and will be remanded to the Dean for
further disciplinary action. Again, this includes any and all parties
involved. Additional penalties, per Academic Affairs Office
guidelines, may include expulsion from the University. Note that a
violation of academic integrity in any class counts as a first
offense in all of my courses.
Almost all of life is filled with collaboration (i.e., people working
together). Yet in our academic system, we artificially limit
collaboration. These limits are designed to force you to learn
fundamental principles and build specific skills. It is very
artificial, and you'll find that collaboration is a valuable skill
in the working world.
While some of you may be tempted to collaborate too much, others will
collaborate too little. When appropriate, it's a good idea to make
use of others - the purpose here is to learn. Be
sure to make the most of this opportunity but do it earnestly and with
Last modified: ,
by David M. Hansen