Is it ethical if I use lecture slides of another professor and modify only 15-20% for my lecture and provide an acknowledgment at the end of lecture slides that lecture material was taken from Prof. XYZ Course ABC?
In the given condition do I still need to send a personal email to professor to inform that I am using his/her lecture material or acknowledgement is enough?

  • The lecture slides are usually distributed in pdf, which is hard to edit. How come you've got an editable version? Is author even aware of you having them? – Dmitry Savostyanov Mar 3 '18 at 18:10
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    @DmitrySavostyanov not every professor distribute in pdf form and it file format doesn't matter the real question is about ethics. I know it cannot come under plagiarism category but I am not sure if it is ethical or not? – MBK Mar 4 '18 at 0:27
  • So are you really asking that if you use the material and the students find out that it was actually prepared by the other professor that they would have preferred that professor to do the lecture and not you? – Solar Mike Mar 4 '18 at 9:17
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    @SolarMike I think I didn't ask what you said in your comment. Its your assumption. My question is straight forward...BTW they can't take course of that professor because he is professor in Stanford I and am professor in other university. – MBK Mar 4 '18 at 9:20
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    Read carefully, I asked a question , long but still a question - it's not an assumption... Why can't you develop your own slides and avoid the issue - which you obviously see as an issue... – Solar Mike Mar 4 '18 at 9:23

The question is: why wouldn't you send an e-mail? Consider you send him/her an email for permission to use the lectures, he/she may:

  1. (most likely) Accept your request providing you reference him/her. He/she might even point some possible errors in the slides.
  2. Deny your request. In that case you just avoided an awkard situation, would he/she ever find you plagiarized (if you modifications don't change the style).

If he/she denies, should you still use his/her slides as a guideline (assuming you do the slides yourself)? Yes you can. And if you wish you can also reference him/her as a reference, in the same way you reference books.

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  • I got response from professor and he said he has no issue with it and asked to share my updated slides with him so he can also get some benefit. – MBK Mar 5 '18 at 11:44
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    Win win, problem solved! – Jsf73 Mar 5 '18 at 14:00

One of my professors did this last semester. He wrote on the front page of each lecture slides:

Slides originally prepared by Dr.X Modified and edited by Dr.HisName

I think this is better than an acknowledgement at the end and that there's no problem with this approach.

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    Yes, putting the acknowledgment after 12/24/however many hours of teaching seems like hiding it and means that the asker is essentially taking full credit for the material for the duration of the course and only then admitting that somebody else deserves that credit. – David Richerby Mar 4 '18 at 14:09

Dear Professor,

For the assignment for your module we were asked to produce an essay of 5000 words. Here's my submission. I used the essay of another student and modified 15-20% of words in it. You can find the name of the student on the last page of my assignment. He produces a very good piece of writing and it would be a shame not to re-use it for my assignment. It also saved me a lot of time, which I used for other things I enjoy doing more than working on your module.

I hope it's fine with you.

Best regards, your student

If you want to encourage such response from your students, then of course, go for it. If not, be an example and do your own preparation for your teaching.

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    Two completely different situations. Students do assignments to demonstrate their own understanding, whereas the purpose of lectures is to educate the students. Using another student's essay clearly does not demonstrate one's own understanding; you need to establish why using somebody else's slides doesn't educate the students. – David Richerby Mar 4 '18 at 13:12
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    @DavidRicherby You can not teach what you don't understand. You can not even encourage learning if you are not encouraged enough yourself to do your job properly. – Dmitry Savostyanov Mar 4 '18 at 14:02
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    Where does the asker say they don't understand? You need to establish why using somebody else's slides isn't doing your job properly. – David Richerby Mar 4 '18 at 14:08
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    @DavidRicherby If students use someone else's work for their assignment, it does not imply that they do not understand, right? Maybe they just don't have time to write it. But they still get penalized for it. How come the same does not apply to lecturers? – Dmitry Savostyanov Mar 4 '18 at 14:22
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    @DmitrySavostyanov What about an instructor who decides to follow a standard textbook rather than writing his own lecture notes, say, for for an introductory math course? The same case? If not, where's the difference between using a textbook written by someone else and using slides written by someone else? – Uwe Mar 4 '18 at 17:21

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