Introduction

On behalf of the University of Wisconsin Computer Sciences department, I would like to foster a clear understanding of unacceptable forms of collaboration on computer science assignments, examinations, and other written course work. This policy is a clarification of the general UW Academic Misconduct policy in UWS 14.03 as it applies to computer sciences coursework. When developing computer software, hardware or algorithms, the most desirable learning results when each student plays the major role in the construction of his or her own work. Unacceptable collaboration in computer sciences courses has, in the past, led to a variety of disciplinary actions, including but not limited to zeros on assignments, failure of the course, and letters filed with the Dean of Students - I hope to prevent the need for such actions in the future by stating this policy as clearly as possible.

The Policy

Students may submit only their own work, done without collaboration, unless it is expressly stated otherwise by the instructor.

Students may complete the weekly programming assignments in groups containing no more than two people. All quizzes and exams, whether completed in person or electronically, must be completed individually. Unacceptable use of the work of others occurs when a student uses another's work illicitly or covertly, including one or more of the following:

  • communication of solution material related to an assignment from one student to another, either partially or entirely, in any form. Note that communication includes passive as well as active communication (for example, posting one's work publicly or leaving it unattended in the lab).
  • incorporation of material from a passive source (for example, a web page found on a Google search) without proper acknowledgement or citation.
  • comparison of solutions between or among students for the purpose of possible revision.

Unacceptable use of the work of others is plagiarism; to use the work of others legitimately, you must first receive permission from the instructor and also acknowledge or cite the source of the outside help in your work.

Prevention

Keep your course work private and password-protected. Keep your answers covered on exams. If you are at all in doubt as to whether an act is a violation of this policy, ask the instructor before engaging in it.

Detection

Collaboration is usually very noticeable by graders and surprisingly easy to confirm. The instructor will investigate the origin of similarities in cases where two distinct submissions appear to be the same in their code, even if identifiers have been renamed, comments have been changed, etc.