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i had submitted an assignment requiring distributed code to achieve a fairly complex application. Since this was my first attempt I took help in the form of tutoring , demos of particular libraries and discussed solutions but did not directly copied any work or passed someone's work as mine . I took the the help of my childhood friend and he helped me in the limits of tutoring and discussions but he casually asked for the coursework and he emailed me all the solutions . I did not even cared to open that email but he did that on my uni account. Some solutions were different from mine , as i had taken a different approach. Although i have graduated in 2015 -- can this come back to bite me , just because of this email?I am scared because i am about to apply for a Phd

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Once you have your degree, your university probably can't do anything, and would not bother with something like this anyway. If it were a thesis, it might be different, but not just one assignment. I give this information as the person who handles plagiarism, etc., in my department.

Anyway, the important thing is that you did not submit someone else's work. Getting help is fine as long as you submit your own work, and it sounds as if this is what happened.

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  • Plagiarism: Passing of work by someone else (also partially) as your own. You didn't hand in your tutor's solution, as far as I understand. So your assignment isn't plagiarism.
  • Cheating: Using forbidden aids in an assignment or exam. Whether you are allowed to use the help of an outside tutor for your assignment depends on the university's (or instructor's) rules on cheating.

Generally speaking, I believe you are worrying too much. You didn't plagiarize, and you could even prove that you didn't, since your solutions were different from those of your tutor. You might have cheated, but likely you didn't. In any case, this will be long forgotten and a minor "offense" that won't undermine your PhD application.

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I agree with the two answers submitted. However, I am going to make a suggestion: Explain the situation to the director of graduate/undergraduate studies in your department.

If your department considers the information you supply and decides you did nothing wrong, I think you will be able to stop worrying.

If they decide you made a mistake at some point along the way, that will be a learning experience for you. You will feel less guilt and paranoia after bringing the situation out into the open.

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    The OP does not have department at this moment (he is about to apply for PhD). Would you please clarify which department he should explain his situation to? – scaaahu May 11 '17 at 6:46
  • @scaaahu - Sorry. I meant the one s/he graduated from in 2015. My suggestion is intended to help the OP come to peace about what happened. I'm not sure any reassurance from anyone here would have as much effect as reassurance from the department where the incidents described took place. – aparente001 May 11 '17 at 6:51
  • @aparente001 - I will write an email to the head of department but this would be more of a reflection about how stuff works in academia and my reflection on each and every course-work.Usually the thumb-rule is that if you don't know a thing just ask someone and you may make that person a co-author or add reference but in my cases these were debugging and tutoring (as mentioned in original question) -- I may write this that had i crossed the line , i would have given my tutor the credit for that but since i haven't it sits fine. – confused887 May 12 '17 at 13:10
  • @aparente001 - The letter i intend to write would be more of a reflection and learning experiences and I have grown as a person and my understanding of the world and academia. I would not say i have "guilt" but yes i need to reflect properly from now-on on minutest of details – confused887 May 12 '17 at 13:15
  • @confused887 - This might be one of those cases where the act of composing the letter helps you close out the experience, to where you can move on constructively with life. In other words, you might find that you don't actually need to send the letter once you've written it. Perhaps it would make sense to draft it and then let it mature on your desk for a couple of days before you decide. – aparente001 May 13 '17 at 4:16

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