As a post-graduate student at a renowned university, I am supposed to make an assignment (see attached images) which is obviously inspired on this licensed scikit tutorial.

Since the assignment (code) instructions are identical to the licensed code, I have two questions:

  1. Is the scientific integrity of the teacher challenged by posing this question?
  2. Should I report this at the university's fraud office?

In the assignment is no reference or citation included.

  • 4
    Plagiarism means claiming credit for others' work as your own. Is your professor actually claiming this work as their own?
    – JeffE
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 19:45

4 Answers 4


Before you step into a potential minefield of accusations and possible blowback, I'd suggest that you just discuss it with the professor, raising your concerns about citation. A fraud accusation would be very serious and possibly unwarranted. You don't know whether the professor has discussed this with the team that created it. Also their own materials only ask for citation if you "use it in a scientific publication". The funding agencies (INRIA, for example), may require fairly loose restrictions on use. I didn't investigate the BSD license, so it may be restrictive or not.

But delay serious steps from which it would be difficult to extract yourself until you know more.

I'm sure many people have turned some of my work into student exercises (not published outside the course material). I would, myself, never object to that.

  • 2
    The BSD license is, perhaps famously, not restrictive at all.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 17:35

IMHO, this is not a scientific paper where there is new contribution he is claiming. Academics have enormous and diverse set of tasks more than you imagine. It can be unintentionally ignored or oversight. It can be that he is acknowledging it but not to the students to not search for solutions online.

Therefore, I advise you to assume a good faith and talk to him personally in a friendly way to point this to him. Especially if solutions can be found online.


for what I can find the scikit tutorial are under the BSD licenses and from what I can read from the homework's description nothing is violating the terms of service.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

  2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

  3. Neither the name of the copyright holder nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.




  1. Maybe? Not really. I don't think anyone cares.
  2. I would advise against reporting this to anyone.


1.) This isn't a peer-reviewed paper; it's a homework assignment. It's also an assignment in a field that isn't well supported by years and years of instructional material, like textbooks, etc. So It's hard for instructors to come up with good assignments. If your instructor had taken a problem out of a textbook and given it to you, would that ping your suspicions? (I can hear someone arguing: "But wait! If it was from a textbook, I would know it wasn't his own work, and I wouldn't be suspicious." To which, I would reply: "Sure; see previous point about not much in the way of established instructional material. Also, if your instructor had given the class a citation, it might have included solutions.)

2.) If this was in a book published by your instructor (and I don't mean a fancy set of handouts, I mean published), maybe someone would be upset. Perhaps the original author. If you bring this to the higher ups in the university, I could see more potential difficulties for yourself than for your instructor.


Is this the "best" instructional practice? No. Is this commonly held to be "OK" instructional practice? I think you will find, yes, it is.

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