In one of my required undergraduate courses, my professor has given a mandatory assignment. He has indicated that he will use our code from the assignment for his research. He has not mentioned attributing it, nor asked our permission to use the code.

I'm not opposed to him using the code for his research, but I want to guarantee that if he does, I will be attributed. Is there a good way to go about this? Furthermore, is it acceptable for a professor to use student code from required class projects for research?

(there was a similar question here but did not apply, since it dealt with commercial uses, and another here but did not include the fact that the course was required for the major.)

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    Have you asked your professor about (1) in what way, specifically, he plans to use the code, and (2) whether and how the authors of the code will be attributed? Seems like you should do that first. I don't think we can answer the question without knowing exactly what kind of "use" of the code is involved.
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 19:00
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    In addition to @ff524's questions, what country is this in? Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 19:02
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    For example, the way the professors "use the code" written by students in this paper is very different from the situation with that other question you mentioned.
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 19:04
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    @ff524 already alluded to this, but it is very important if "use in research" refers to utilizing your code to solve his research problem or if "use in research" means research into how students attempt to solve a particular problem - in the first case, you have issues of attribution, copyright, etc; in the second case, you have issues of human subjects research.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 22:56
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    @alvarpq That sounds exceptionally concerning to me - not only has the instructor not clarified the terms in which the code will be used, but didn't even seem to intend to mention the code would be used for something besides being graded as part of an assignment until the issue came up obliquely in a Q&A session. Either that makes this very much worse (i.e., the professor knows nothing about the ethics of this sort of thing or doesn't care) or there is some significant misunderstanding and he doesn't actually intend to use the code at all.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 0:35

1 Answer 1


There may be course policies or institution policies allowing it at your school, but you should be at least cited/credited/acknowledged in that professor's research.

I've personally had my research and work used in a professors publications and she has always at least acknowledged me in her publications.

(My case may differ from yours, in that the research I was involved in was done on a student-employee basis. I'm not sure how that might change the dynamic.)

I would certainly at least send an email so that there is some sort of recoverable proof, asking if your work will be cited/attributed to yourself. Don't fall victim to the old "your reward is the experience" thing. While valid and applicable in some situations, not so when it's your intellectual property.

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