I apologize if a similar question has been asked and answered before or if the question does not belong here, however, I am in a major dilemma at the moment and extremely stressed out over plagiarism and my research integrity. To give context, a major part of my master's research was based on an open source code on Github (original author released the code with MIT License, so it could be modified and published), and I used the original Python script and modified it to fit the purposes of my research. So, all of my results pertaining to a particular part of my research is heavily based on the original author's work with some of my modifications.

I have already defended and passed my thesis defense and I am getting ready to finalize and submit my thesis. I have also cited the original author multiple times throughout my thesis. However, I was told by my advisor and committee that I must copy/paste all of my code in the appendices, which I did. Even though I have provided all due credit to the original author, I am not sure my university will see it that way as the code has been modified and pasted. Would it be okay to state and mention in my thesis chapters as well as the appendix that the original code was released with MIT license as well as a Github link to the original author's Github? Thank you for your help.

1 Answer 1


Fear not! It sounds as if you have passed the major hurdles. Now you just have to tick the required boxes, show that you have done so. ... and deal with your own anxiety.

The main things, to my mind, are

  1. to ensure that you have complied with requirements of the MIT licence
  2. to make clear to readers of the thesis that you have done so.

The MIT license is very permissive. The license grants to any person who obtains a copy of the software and associated files the right to use, copy, modify, merge, distribute, publish, sublicense, and sell copies of the software. In return for the grant of permissions, you are obliged to include the same copyright notice in all copies of the software or in any substantial portion of the software.

Check that you have done those things!

In addition, I would be inclined to

  1. include a copy (!) of the MIT licence as an appendix to your dissertation
  2. state early on in the thesis, where you begin to talk about your own work, that it "represents a development of software previously developed by XYZ (2010) and released by her under the MIT licence (see Appendix W)".
  3. state explicitly that you have complied with the license conditions and point to the place(s) in your thesis that show your compliance. For example, point to the place where your reproduce the appropriate copyright notice.

In the bibliography where you put the reference to XYZ, you can indicate the date on which you downloaded the software, the version you downloaded, and the site whence it came. If you are still feeling anxious about it, check with your university administration.

  • 1
    Possibly each instance of derivative code should have an accompanying citation (i.e., each instance of derivative code can point to the same entry in your bibliography).
    – Brian
    Feb 26 at 15:20

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