Law and Ethics


I'm a incoming freshmen to a university. Over the summer I obtained the book that we would be using for a course. I have spent several hundred hours of self research and self teaching reading the whole entire book and solving every single problem in the book. It's for a course were we have to learn a certain programming language. Hence I solved every single problem onto one electronic file. I was thinking I might as well as publish my work as a solutions manual to this textbook for which there's no solutions manual for by the publishers and that it wouldn't be that hard to do. I would publish it as a free download onto the internet.

I was wondering what would be the proper way of getting input before publishing? I was thinking the best thing to do would be to stay after lecture the very first day and hand the professor a copy of the file on a CD and say something along the lines of, "Hi, my name is... Over the summer I read the whole entire textbook for the course and solved every single problem in the book. I wondering if you could let me know what you think of my work before I publish it?" I think that doing something like this would be great and the professor's facial expressions would be like "WTF you taught yourself everything on your own and wrote a solutions manual to the whole entire textbook?" and would be pretty damn impressed because he would realize he would have very little to teach me in the course if anything.

After getting his input the next time the course is in section and taking what he has to say into consideration after viewing my electronic book, I thought that this would also be a good resume builder and I could list it on my resume as being an author and include a copy of the file electronically with my resume.

I understand that this solutions manual would be a derivative work sense my solutions manual wouldn't exist had it not been for the original book. Am I still entitled to publish this document or not? All work of it is of my own with very few questions in which I had to ask for guidance in solving a problem from which someone guided me along the thought process of coming up with a solution. Like I don't really understand why this would be an issue because people solve home work problems on separate pieces of paper from textbooks and claim it as there own work all the time. This document just contains my solutions and not the actual wording of the questions or anything of the sort. I would be releasing this to the internet free of charge and wouldn't be making money off of it at all. If this is against copyright rules than how do websites like cramster dot com get a whole bunch of people to post there solutions to home work problems from textbooks and stuff? That site is one giant solutions manual were people contribute solutions to problems from the book.

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asked by George
  1. Let me get this straight: You are proposing to share answers with classmates during a course. If I were the prof, I would bring up on charges related to fostering cheating, in accordance with the University policy. What else can you call it?

    Additionally, having written answer keys myself, how do you know they are correct? And, in programming, there are many correct solutions. Do you really expect everyone to use yours as gospel?

    I think you ought to focus on learning in the course, which I think you will find that much in the course will vary from the text, and give new insights.

    Now on the copyright question. Tricky, normally you have to give credit to the authors you have copied from, and most publishing houses would solicit (even a fee) permission to the author of the questions.

    Cramster is a cheating orginization, and many profs use services to check students homework to see if it is a copy. And of course, many don't care if the student cheats or not, what they learn is of little concern to the prof or the student. Such is life.

  2. Why on earth would you want to help students cheat?

    Although there are many cheat sites online, I don't understand why you'd want to add to that morass of fraud.

    As you should know, people learn far more from doing their own work than from copying the answers of others. Would you trust a doctor or a teacher or a banker who had cheated their way through college?

  3. Publishing a cheating website will sure look good on a resume -- but only if you want to work for illegal and unethical organizations. Most employers would throw your resume into the nearest trash or recycling bin.

  4. I am really glad that having retired from teaching many years ago, that I no longer have to put up with students with your type of hyperbolic opinion of himself.
    I would have simply dismissed you.
    This just had to be said.

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    posted by Reiny
  5. I do commend you for having done all the work, and for soliciting opinions before going ahead with anything you were planning to do. Here's my five-cents' worth.

    Solution manuals do exist, in math and many other disciplines. In my opinion, their publication should be either sponsored by the author, or approved by same, since solutions are generally worked out by someone with the same authority or experience in the subject.

    If you do want to be recognized for your efforts, try contacting the author, or the publisher, and have it done through the proper channels. If they are interested, they will review your work and give you a verdict. If they already have a solutions manual, they will also let you know too.

    If you want to publish it on the web on your own, you could be doing one or more of the following:
    1. foster cheating, just as any other site which give answers, or sample essays, or home-work services.
    2. since you have not had your work validated, publishing could potential give users wrong answers, or lead them in the wrong track.
    3. infringe the author's copyrights.

    I wish you all the best with whatever you choose to do.

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  6. I would not defend myself necessarily to the people that responded previously. I like the idea of solutions manuals--I am a mathematics major and was thinking of doing creating solutions manuals myself because 1. I don't think that there are enough concrete examples of how to do proofs for many of the higher level classes 2. The texts typically do not do enough explaining 3. Especially considering that I think more than half of students that enroll in higher level math classes are not appropriately prepared for these classes when enrolled. 4. Then this type of solution manual is created by a peer such that since it is, there's less of a language barrier in the sense that since you've probably been through the same program (degree plan) as many of the students enrolled in the class, you'll probably have a better grasp of how to communicate some of the information that is missing from the lectures. I say go for it, but keep in mind what you are liable for.

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    posted by Snooks

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