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A question regarding plagarism and code that is common knowledge

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Joined: 2008-12-08


I am currently a student at California Polytechnic State University, and I am currently enrolled in the intro java class. The course has a strict policy regarding plagiarism, and any students found involved are failed.

Our school defines plagiarism as:
"Plagiarism is defined as the act of using the ideas or work of another person or persons as if they were one's own without giving proper credit to the source. Such an act is not plagiarism if it is ascertained that the ideas were arrived through independent reasoning or logic or where the thought or idea is common knowledge"

Source = ""

On an extra credit project I am being accused of plagiarizing, and I would like to see the opinion of a professional on the situation because it is likely I will use any pertinent response in my case to repeal my accusation.

Because this is an intro course the depth of programming is not as extreme. The assignment was to create a simple GUI fictional ATM that received only mouse input and allowed a user to perform basic ATM functionality (log in, withdraw, check balance, etc).

Because I had a difficult time figuring out the syntax to add anything at all to my frame (panels, buttons), I looked at a functional (but completely separate program) GUI program code that the author willingly supplied. I looked at the syntax for several lines of codes and implemented similar lines of code into mine until my program successfully created a frame with a button in it. The methods that I used that could also be found in the code I looked at are as follows:
getContentPane().add(mypanel, BorderLayout.SOMEDIRECTION)

Because I feel like this is very basic GUI programming basics, and I did not at all try to take credit for the ideas or work of the original author, for I only used it for syntactical and learning purposes.

According to my university's definition of plagiarizing, "if it is ascertained that the ideas were arrived through independent reasoning or logic or where the thought or idea is common knowledge." In other words, does some code count as "common knowledge" in the industry that won't be looked as plagiarizing? I hope to track down the the common consensus, if any, in the industry in this respect, for this would be very helpful in my situation. For example, previously in the quarter, my professor explained that we could look at a bubble sort example online and would not be forced to credit it because creating a bubble sort in programming has become somewhat common knowledge and a specific author need not be credited.

In my situation, have I plagiarized? I look forward to any response and insight and professional may have to offer. The situation is very time-sensitive, and if a reader plans on responding, please reply accordingly.

Lastly, if anyone has an opinion of where else I should ask this specific question, please direct me to the webpage.

Thank you for your time,
Brian Laub

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Joined: 2008-11-20

No taht isnt plagurizing. If you don't know how to do something then you look it up. As long as you didnt copy paste the code then it is fine. That code is common knowledge and you should be fine.

Message was edited by: sonyabarry