6.001 Fall 2003: Policy on Collaborative Work
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should I write up my project?
Here is a detailed version of the course policy on collaborative work.
Most people learn more effectively when they study in small groups and cooperate in various other ways on homework. This can be particularly true in programming assignments, where working with a partner often helps to avoid careless errors. We are very much in favor of this kind of cooperation, so long as all participants actively involve themselves in all aspects of the work--not just split up the assignment and each do only a fraction.
We are structuring the work this term into two types: problem sets (including both the problems that you should do on-line as you watch each lecture and the on-line problems that you should turn in weekly in association with a pair of lectures) and projects. Please abide by the following guidelines with regard to these different types of work. Problem sets (all the on-line work) are designed to reinforce key concepts. They should be completed by each student individually, though seeking tutoring help from Lab Assistants or other staff is perfectly appropriate. Projects are designed to be larger scale activities, in which group activity is often a key component. For these projects, we encourage you to work with one or two other people. When you turn in your project, you must identify with whom you worked. We expect, however, that you are involved in all aspects of the project, and that you write up your results separately. When you hand in material with your name on it, we assume that you are certifying that this is your work and that you were involved in all aspects of it. Do not just turn in a copy of a single file, write your own versions. This means that you create this file directly, and not just annotate a copy of that you received from someone else. We know that this may sound like replication of work, but an important part of learning the material is making the process an active one, which you do by ensuring that you can create and explain your solution.
Here is an example scenario of how a good collaboration might work:
Both (all) of you sit down with pencil and paper and together plan how you're going to solve things. You go together to a cluster and sit at adjacent machines. When one of you has a problem, the others look over your shoulder. You check after each problem to make sure that the others are all caught up. But in each case you write your own solution, seeking help from the others when you have difficulties. On the writeup, each of you lists the names of all of your collaborators.Not listing the name of a collaborator will be deemed cheating. Similarly, remember that copying another person's work and representing it as one's own work is a serious academic offense and will be treated as such.
In general, we strongly encourage you to work as a group. It's a very effective way of catching conceptual and other errors, and of refining one's thinking and understanding.
The policy on collaborative work also extends to using other sources of information, in particular "bibles". It is legitimate to use bibles as a source of supplementary problems for additional practice, to try to test and increase your understanding of the material. It is not legitimate to us bibles as a source of code or solutios to any of this term's assignments. Doing so is not only likely to hinder your learning the material, it is intellectually dishonest and a form of cheating. In recent terms several students made use of bibles in this way, resulting in disciplinary action taken against them. Do not copy from bibles. Solve the problems on your own, or with assistance from the teaching staff.