Aurora999
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Good morning all,

I was recently given a paper to complete as part of my coursework which I've really struggled with since the content is completely new to me. After much searching and reading, I discovered the question set by the lecturer was taken from a well known book on the subject. The lecturer essentially copied and pasted the question into the assessment (he didn't reference btw). I found said book in the library and reviewed the content. It was a massive help and I was able to reverse engineer the answer which helped me really understand the problem.

Anyway, long story short, I want to know whether I should reference that I have read the book. I don't want to be caught out on some sort of plagiarism technicality. It sort of feels like I've cheated because I have the answers but by the same token, the content was readily available in print and online, so it's fair game and should be referenced.

Thanks!
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mqb2766
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(Original post by Aurora999)
Good morning all,

I was recently given a paper to complete as part of my coursework which I've really struggled with since the content is completely new to me. After much searching and reading, I discovered the question set by the lecturer was taken from a well known book on the subject. The lecturer essentially copied and pasted the question into the assessment (he didn't reference btw). I found said book in the library and reviewed the content. It was a massive help and I was able to reverse engineer the answer which helped me really understand the problem.

Anyway, long story short, I want to know whether I should reference that I have read the book. I don't want to be caught out on some sort of plagiarism technicality. It sort of feels like I've cheated because I have the answers but by the same token, the content was readily available in print and online, so it's fair game and should be referenced.

Thanks!
If you want to be on the safe side, ask the lecturer. Most students will probably look online for information / similar questions, it simply depends on how much of the coursework is your original work. If you've done the derivation / calculation and explained it in your own words, I can't see that much problem.

If you've put some of the book content into your coursework, remove it and make a statement like "as shown in xxx" and reference xxx. Only you know what you mean by "massive help" and "reverse engineering".

If you want to avoid situations like this, do coursework "closed book". So even if you know there is something close to what you want, do the work and write it up yourself without looking at the published source (read it beforehand). You may tweak your work afterwards, but it ensures that you're explaining stuff in your own words. If the topic occurs in your exam, it means that you do understand it and will probably do better in the exam. Exams generally have a higher weighting than the coursework.
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Aurora999
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Many thanks for the reply mqb2766.

The derivation / calculation part is exactly the same since it's math but it's not quotes, copy and paste or anything like that. It's all written out step by step.

I was thinking perhaps the book should be referenced in the bibliography?
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mqb2766
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(Original post by Aurora999)
Many thanks for the reply mqb2766.

The derivation / calculation part is exactly the same since it's math but it's not quotes, copy and paste or anything like that. It's all written out step by step.

I was thinking perhaps the book should be referenced in the bibliography?
I'd be concerned if the derivation / calculation part is "exactly the same", as I'm presuming that will be the majority of the marks. It sounds like you had the book open when you were doing it? Give a non-trivial maths problem to 10 people and its unlikely that any two will solve it in exactly the same way. Just remember you have to submit your work, not a small rewrite of someone elses.
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Aurora999
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Unfortunately, it was the only way I could do it given the subject was completely brand new to me. Looks like I've got myself into a bit of a pickle :/
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DFranklin
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(Original post by Aurora999)
Unfortunately, it was the only way I could do it given the subject was completely brand new to me. Looks like I've got myself into a bit of a pickle :/
Unless this is *way* more trivial than it sounds (in terms of the amount of effort being expended), if you can't rewrite the derivation so it's not "exactly the same", it's a pretty good bet you don't really understand it.
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Aurora999
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I guess what I'm trying to say is that my explanation of my results is rock solid, it's clear, well explained and global, well known formulas have been referenced, it's just the fundamental math is the same as the book.

It's a little like V = I * R in electronics. My V result matches the answers and is only derived through known formula. That is to say that there is no other possible way of calculating the result. Furthermore, part of the assessment is to compare the calculated result with a simulator, so in a way, we have the result we should be looking for.

Going back to my original question, should I still reference / put in Bibliography that I have read the book with the answer?
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DFranklin
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(Original post by Aurora999)
I guess what I'm trying to say is that my explanation of my results is rock solid, it's clear, well explained and global, well known formulas have been referenced, it's just the fundamental math is the same as the book.
If it's "exactly the same", I'd say you will get into trouble whatever you do.

I mean, if I had a homework to prove the quadratic formula, and I look up a proof that goes:

"To solve ax^2+bx+c = 0, note a(x+b/2a)^2 = ax^2 +bx + (b^2/4a), so ax^2+bx+c = a(x+b/2a)^2 + c - (b^2/4a).
So ax^2+bx+c <=> (x+b/2a)^2 = (b^2-4ac)/4a^2 <=> x+b/2a = \pm \sqrt{(b^2-4ac)/4a^2} \iff x = \frac{-b}{2a} \pm \frac{\sqrt{b^2-4ac}}{2a}"

then although there's only one fundamental *concept* here, I can easily rewrite this so I'm not doing something word-for-word:

"To solve ax^2+bx+c, divide by a to get x^2+\frac{b}{a}x + \frac{b}{a} = 0. Now we know (x+A)^2 = x^2+2Ax+B, so setting A=\frac{b}{2a}..."

I would still want need to think about "have I taken so much that this is really plaguarism?", but I have done work of my own, (and more to the point from your lecturer's point of view) I have shown I actually understand it.

But if I've copied the original text verbatim, and my lecturer has that original text, I wouldn't expect things to go well, regardless of if I reference my source.

Going back to my original question, should I still reference / put in Bibliography that I have read the book with the answer?
From what you've said, yes, absolutely.
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mqb2766
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(Original post by Aurora999)
I guess what I'm trying to say is that my explanation of my results is rock solid, it's clear, well explained and global, well known formulas have been referenced, it's just the fundamental math is the same as the book.

It's a little like V = I * R in electronics. My V result matches the answers and is only derived through known formula. That is to say that there is no other possible way of calculating the result. Furthermore, part of the assessment is to compare the calculated result with a simulator, so in a way, we have the result we should be looking for.

Going back to my original question, should I still reference / put in Bibliography that I have read the book with the answer?
Using a double negative, I don't understand why you wouldn't reference it. You've used it, so reference it.

For a final comment about similarities. In doing derivations, I find explanations and reflections are important. You should think about which steps you feel are important and explain them / reflect on them as appropriate. Typically, this would be different from a student learning it the first time to a lecturer who is an expert in the field.
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Aurora999
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Ok, cool. Based on what you guys have said, things are clearer. Many thanks for your help!
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