Computer Science and the Honor Code

Since 1921, academic conduct at Stanford has been governed by the Honor Code, which reads as follows:

The Stanford University Honor Code

  1. The Honor Code is an undertaking of the students, individually and collectively:
    1. that they will not give or receive aid in examinations; that they will not give or receive unpermitted aid in class work, in the preparation of reports, or in any other work that is to be used by the instructor as the basis of grading;
    2. that they will do their share and take an active part in seeing to it that others as well as themselves uphold the spirit and letter of the Honor Code.
  2. The faculty on its part manifests its confidence in the honor of its students by refraining from proctoring examinations and from taking unusual and unreasonable precautions to prevent the forms of dishonesty mentioned above. The faculty will also avoid as far as practicable, academic procedures that create temptations to violate the Honor Code.
  3. While the faculty alone has the right and obligation to set academic requirements, the students and faculty will work together to establish optimal conditions for honorable academic work.

The purpose of this webpage is to make our expectations as clear as possible regarding the Honor Code. The basic principle under which we operate is that each of you is expected to submit your own work in your courses. In particular, attempting to take credit for someone else’s work by turning it in as your own constitutes plagiarism, which is a serious violation of basic academic standards.

Under the Honor Code you are obligated to follow all of the following rules:

Rule 1: You must not look at solutions or program code that are not your own.

It is an act of plagiarism to submit work that is copied or derived from the work of others and submitted as your own. For example, using a solution from the Internet or a solution from another student (past or present) or some other source, in part or in whole, that is not your own work is a violation of the Honor Code. Many Honor Code infractions we see make use of solution code found online. The best way to steer clear of this possibility is not to search for online solutions to the programming assignments. Moreover, looking at someone else’s solution code in order to determine how to solve the problem yourself is also an infraction of the Honor Code. In essence, you should not be looking at someone else’s code in order to solve the problems in this class. This is not an appropriate way to “check your work,” “get a hint,” or “see alternative approaches.”

Rule 2: You must not share your solution code with other students.

In particular, you should not ask anyone to give you a copy of their code or, conversely, give your code to another student who asks you for it. Similarly, you should not discuss your algorithmic strategies to such an extent that you and your collaborators end up turning in the same code. Moreover, you are expected to take reasonable measures to maintain the privacy of your solutions. For example, you should not leave copies of your work on public computers nor post your solution code on a public website.

Rule 3: You must indicate on your submission any assistance you received.

If you received aid while producing your solution, you should indicate from whom you got help (if that person is not a section leader, TA, or instructor for this class) and what help you received. A proper citation should specifically identify the source (e.g., person’s name, book title, website URL, etc.) and a clear indication of how this assistance influenced your work (be as specific as possible). For example, you might write “I discussed the approach used for sorting numbers in the sortNumbers method with Mary Smith.” If you make use of such assistance without giving proper credit, you may be guilty of plagiarism.

It is also important to make sure that the assistance you receive consists of general advice that does not cross the boundary into having someone else write the actual code or show you their code. It is fine to discuss ideas and strategies, but you should be careful to write your programs on your own, as indicated in Rules 1 and 2

Please be aware: all submissions are subject to automated plagiarism detection.

We have no desire to create a climate in which students feel as if they are under suspicion. The entire point of the Stanford Honor Code is that we all benefit from working in an atmosphere of mutual trust. Students who deliberately take advantage of that trust, however, poison that atmosphere for everyone.

Stanford employs powerful automated plagiarism detection tools that compare assignment submissions with other submissions from the current and previous quarters. The tools also compare submissions against a wide variety of online solutions. These tools are effective at detecting unusual resemblances in programs, which are then further examined by the course staff. The staff then make the determination as to whether submissions are deemed to be potential infractions of the Honor Code and referred to Stanford's Community Standards office.

A final note on collaboration.

In computer science courses, it is usually appropriate to ask others—the section leaders, TAs, instructor, or other students—for hints and debugging help or to talk generally about problem-solving strategies and program structure. In fact, we strongly encourage you to seek such assistance when you need it. Discuss ideas together, but do the coding on your own.

Content by CS Course Advisor
Last updated on Thursday, 24-Sep-2015 14:49:29 PDT.
Design by Linda Nguyen, '05