Just a quick question. I teach some undergraduate mathematics. I like to produce notes that contain exercises.

Sometimes I make my own exercises, sometimes I take exercises from various sources and edit them slightly and sometimes I take materials from the previous teacher.

However just recently I found myself copying a full set of exercises from a textbook and instantly a wave of guilt came over me.

What I would like to know is how do people feel about this? Is a mention at the start of the notes sufficient or should I really reference each instance where I take an exercise... even with page number.

Any opinions greatly appreciated thank you.


closed as off topic by Thomas, rschwieb, yunone, Hans Lundmark, J. M. is a poor mathematician Sep 29 '12 at 10:38

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    $\begingroup$ This might also be a good question for Academia.SE. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Sep 28 '12 at 20:17
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    $\begingroup$ To avoid the charge of plagiarism: if you publish the exercises, give the reference to the source. $\endgroup$ – GEdgar Sep 28 '12 at 20:17
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    $\begingroup$ If you want students to work out solutions themselves (as opposed to looking them up) maybe providing page-number references on the same sheet is not good. If you want to provide references, prepare solutions later with the full reference. $\endgroup$ – GEdgar Sep 28 '12 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ If it's wholesale copying, I'd probably credit the source unless it's something routine, such as "Evaluate $\displaystyle\int\frac{dx}{4+x^2}$" or "Find $17\times 29$." $\endgroup$ – Michael Hardy Sep 29 '12 at 1:28

I think it is completely fair to use exercises from other sources if you mention it. In an effort to teach and to explain a topic in a better way, sometimes it is required to use examples from other sources.


This is probably rather a legal than a math matter and could be moved to another forum accordingly. Copyright issues may differ from country to country, and some may list special exceptions specifically for research and education (and amount).

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it's primarily a legal matter; I think it's more about scholarly ethics. And some aspects of the issues depend on the fact that it's in mathematics rather than in some other fields. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hardy Sep 29 '12 at 1:26

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