I received some help during my thesis under the following circumstances:

  1. Took "neutral" classes for coding from a online tutor
  2. The tutor helped me in sharpening my coding skills
  3. I took his help (held discussions) in understanding a solution (how to code, which library to use)
  4. The Tutor helped debugging at times when I got stuck

I wrote everything by my own but this person helped by "tutoring", "discussions", and "debugging".

Am I fine here?

  • 4
    I think you'd have to elaborate on (4) a bit. Someone debugging your code seems like bordering on (if not precisely) academic dishonesty. Discussions of coding / which libraries to use sounds fine, though.
    – User001
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 22:16
  • 4
    Please specify in, which field of research you are working. If programming is a tool but not the major target of your research, I won't see any problem. If the programming work is a relevant part of our work I would agree with @user68375 comment. Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 22:42
  • 2
    Whether any of the coding help is, or could be considered as, any form of academic dishonesty depends entirely on what the help was, and what the coding was for. This is currently unclear/too broad as written, but sufficient detail will necessarily make it almost inapplicable to anybody else, therefore personal recommendation. VTC either way.
    – Nij
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 0:40
  • 1
    How are you acknowledging this help in your work?
    – innisfree
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 5:21
  • @user68375 - This was like random issue , sometime the file was too big , program got heavy (he resolved) , encoding and format issues for particular coding standards ( particular framework need to be encoded and then in some other format ) Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 18:42

2 Answers 2


Activities 1-3 are perfectly fine, and fall within the category of teaching and learning. There is no more issue with these activities than if you undertake approved university courses during your program. Activity 4 is the only one that could potentially raise issues, depending on your field of study and the extent of the assistance. If you are undertaking a thesis where the primary activity is coding and debugging, where you are expected to do these activities yourself, then it might not be okay to have assistance on this task. If you are outside of that field then debugging assistance in your coding is probably analogous to copy-editing services for the textual elements of the thesis, and in that case you should seek guidance from relevant standards applicable to your university (here is an example of applicable standards for copy-editing of theses in Australian universities).

In any case, you should raise this matter with your thesis supervisor, disclose the details of the assistance you got, and make sure you give an appropriate acknowledgement in your thesis, so that the reviewers are aware of the matter. Your supervisor will be able to point you to relevant policies that apply at your university, and will be in a good position to assess whether the help you have sought raises any issues. Unless your thesis is specifically about programming/debugging tasks, there is probably reasonably wide scope for basic debugging services (analogous to light copy-editing services) and so it will probably not be an issue.


Under certain circumstances, unfortunately not stated in the question, even point 4 would be ok. This is work at the graduate level, and even there, not every student is a great programmer. Moreover, there is a lot to CS that isn't really about programming, even when it depends on programming at some level.

My question, rather, would be, who designed the program and the work that it contributes to. If it was the OP, then I see no issue at all in having someone help debug the program(s). The line would come when debugging moves over to design of the code. But even then, there might be more to the research than the code. If the OP has designed the research and knows enough to come to appropriate conclusions, I see no problem. (Old and retired CS professor).

The first three points in the question raise no issues for me at all. But the person giving help should be acknowledged, of course.

If I can draw a parallel with work in other scientific fields, it isn't necessary that the lead author of a work have personally performed all of the experiments on which the work is based. It is enough that he/she had a key role in design and giving direction to the work.

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