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I have taken a math class and answered homework questions from a text (FOAG by Ravi Vakil). Vakil himself stated it was ok to publish answers to questions from his text (although he would prefer that people did not).

My question is, would this somehow be a break of procedure for the CLASS I was taking? I.E. would it be academically frowned upon to publish answers to homework questions from a class online, with those questions being from an exterior textbook?

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    Why would you do this anyways?
    – Bryan Krause
    Jun 25 '21 at 16:09
  • @BryanKrause: when I was a student, the student union had collections of excercises and answers and they were always looking for more well-executed solutions. Professors not only knew this, they told us doing these excercises would be a very good way to learn. They also mentioned that looking prematurely at the solution would likely compromise what we'd learn from the excercise, but that as adults it is our own choice how to prepare for the exams. So the answer back then would have been to give back/help to enhance a resource that helped us. Excercises were typically volountary with no marks. Jul 26 '21 at 19:23
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    @cbeleitesunhappywithSX Sure, I can think of reasons to do it, but I wanted to know what OP's reason is to help determine if this is kind of an XY problem.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 26 '21 at 20:52
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If you created the solutions, then, ethically, there is nothing wrong with making them public. If you take a class that has specific rules, however, you need to agree to those rules. But that is a different matter.

You do some students a disservice by publishing answers, in my view. Reading a solution to a problem is a much different educational process than producing it yourself. Education isn't primarily about "answers" but the process that lets the student generate the answers.

But, ethically, you can publish your own work, even if it was "sparked" by something you read as an exercise in a book.

But, for your CLASS, you need to consult the professor and see if there are any published rules.

Note that when a professor is asked for help on an exercise, they do their best job if they give the student some minimal hint that gets them past any misconception or block that they might have, but still permits creativity in the student. Giving them a solution blocks that avenue of creativity. Think about that and how you contribute to the educational process by publishing.

For some books (some of mine, for example) the exercises are much more important than the text itself. If a student can do all of the exercises with only minimal help (other than the text) then they will have a deep knowledge of the material. If they they do none of them then their knowledge is very superficial.


Note, however, that while you can publish your own solutions, you probably cannot publish the questions themselves without a copyright violation.

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