Hi I wrote my masters thesis and it got A grade. I wrote 20,000 words on my own but I took help for the coding portion. Ideas were mine but he helped me putting them into action - discussing solutiouns, helped in debugging , helped in finding code from internet etc .Have I plagirised in any form ?

  • 3
    What did your advisor say? If you didn't inform your advisor of this, that's a cause for concern. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 19:40
  • There's a line between "acceptable outside assistance" - effectively 'tutoring' - and plagiarism. Determining where exactly your actions fall will require far more detail about exactly what this person did (giving advice versus writing, etc). It would also help if you explain why you think it might have been plagiarism, what specifically you think might have gone over the line., etc.
    – BrianH
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 19:53
  • Only helped me with debugging where I got stuck in code. advisor knew. It was like my first big distributed application , he helped me when I got stuck in code like that ways
    – jugglediv
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 19:58
  • I wrote an excellent methodlogy and related works , it was massively appreciated. I lacked coding skills in java so used a coder to help me only where I got stuck . Supervisor said get the code "running"
    – jugglediv
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 20:09
  • You said you found code from the Internet. Did you mention the sources in the references section of your thesis? If not, your have a separate concern in addition to the coding help related concern.
    – juhist
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


There are two independent issues here:

  1. Did you take credit for someone else's work? To avoid this, you need to explain the situation clearly and explicitly in your thesis, so that nobody will give you more credit than you deserve. This has to be prominent enough to be noticed. (If the code is a major part of your thesis, then it's not enough to mention the assistance just in a footnote on page 85.)

  2. Did you do enough yourself to fulfill the requirements for your degree? To ensure that this is the case, whoever grades your thesis (advisor, examiner, thesis committee) should be aware of the situation.

If you mentioned the assistance clearly in the thesis and your advisor was well aware of it, then you should be fine.

If you mentioned it clearly but your advisor was unaware, then you're probably OK, since it would be embarrassing for your advisor to admit that he/she didn't notice the clear statement in your thesis. But you should have made sure your advisor knew.

If your advisor knew but you didn't mention it clearly in the thesis, then you should have written it differently. You could be accused of academic dishonesty, but I think you are unlikely to get in trouble for it now, given that your advisor knew and hasn't objected. However, if you publish the thesis results, you should be sure to mention it then. (In my experience, people are more likely to get upset over credit issues for a publication than a master's thesis, so this is riskier.)

If your advisor didn't know and your thesis didn't mention it, then you are in a bad situation. You probably won't be caught, because it's not so easy for anyone to find out, but if people do find out then you could easily be accused of academic dishonesty. How serious this would be depends on the details of your case.

  • Above, @BrianDHall has a valid point that not all help needs to be credited. Discussions and help with debugging may as well count as just tutoring.
    – Alexey B.
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 4:09
  • Advisor suggested take help and get the code running , since the work required building from an already existing very mature code base . I told him that I cannot edit this code base , so there was a plugin skeleton for this software written by the original devlopers. I used it and wrote a plugin , I got stuck in debugging and other discussions. I was honest with my advisor that I cannot edit source code of software not written by me , he was like OK and then later said you deserve A grade. He gave C for implementation but other sections like related works , methodology were A
    – jugglediv
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 4:54
  • @Anonymous Mathematician - advisor knew but I did not mention it in my thesis. for the publication I have to edit the source code , this was a plugin .
    – jugglediv
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 4:58
  • @jugglediv Based on your comments you are fine and don't need to worry.
    – user9482
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 7:37

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