It was earlier posted on Academia but I think I must ask here too. (https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/149324/is-this-plagrism-or-something-similar-in-a-masters-project)

I am a master's student in 3rd world Asian country. My master's thesis guide (who was from a different institute) abandoned me after giving a research paper to read. Now, with no guidance left as no-one in my institute works in analytic number theory, I began reading the papers related to the first paper. I read 5 papers in total and in my thesis I will write in detail about the details which were not covered in the papers (like detailed steps and proofs).

But, as I had no help I posted questions on mathstackexchange and some which were not answered on MSE were subsequently posted on Mathoverflow. I am really thankful to the community because without their help it wouldn't be possible to completely understand the papers. One professor in combinatorial number theory (who recommended me to another professor) agreed that I could write his name as a supervisor (my institute has rules that he had be made a co-guide earlier even when I didn't know my guide will not work with me).

My question is that I don't want to write in my master's thesis that I took help from Mathstackexchange and Mathoverflow because it could create an impression that I don't know enough mathematics, or could be asked several question and even my account will become publicly known. But isn't I am doing plagiarism?

Also I have worked really hard on thesis despite the trauma of my guide not replying to any of my email.

Also, it doesn't seems right that I write the names of all the users as I have asked about 10-12 questions here. So, writing all of those names, I think will create a bad impression of me. The evaluators in my university may not understand the situation.

So, can anyone please tell whether I am doing any plagiarism?

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    $\begingroup$ I think it is difficult to answer this without reviewing all the answers you were given and how you used them in your work. To be sure: everyone asks others questions from time to time and people don't cite every such instance. But, of course, it is a matter of degree. $\endgroup$ – lulu May 19 '20 at 15:12
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    $\begingroup$ The difficulty of your plight evokes sympathy, but really asking questions is the normal way to go about learning mathematics. If you understood the answers, you have learned in the first way. The next way is to apply it yourself, and the third way is to explain it to someone else. The masters thesis is often an exercise in just this. However meta Math.SE is not really a suitable place to ask about this, as the meta sites are for discussion of the software and policies that support Math.SE. $\endgroup$ – hardmath May 19 '20 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ I think that you should at the very least thank math.SE and MathOverflow in your thesis. This is not an uncommon thing to do, even in research papers. There should be no shame in asking questions, and (without reading your questions) the only difference seems to be that you asked questions in public rather than behind the closed doors of your supervisor's office. $\endgroup$ – user1729 May 19 '20 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ You can easily use questions to quickly get to the edge of what is known. If you are asking a question and it turns out that random people on math.SE or mathoverflow immediately know the answer, then it probably wasn't going to be a major component of your work. You might cite the response appropriately and explain in a blurb of how it led you further in your investigation. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb May 19 '20 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ Admitting that you asked questions in order to produce a more detailed exposition of those 5 papers should not reflect poorly on you. Creating the impression that you came up with those details under your own steam OTOH. Frankly, I don't see the downside of listing SE references. You don't necessarily have to list the names of answerers. May be if selected few people answered many of your questions? $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen May 20 '20 at 7:10
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    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? Do I cite Mathematics Stack Exchange in my thesis/paper? $\endgroup$ – Alex M. May 20 '20 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ I have voted to reopen this question as it is about how we interact with Math.SE. Answering the question will help others in similar situations. $\endgroup$ – user1729 May 21 '20 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729 thanks a lot!! $\endgroup$ – Avenger May 21 '20 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729: "Is this plagiarism ... So, can anyone please tell whether I am doing any plagiarism?" Is that the question you think should be answered? If so, how could anyone answer that? If not, what do you think is being asked, "about how we interact with Math.SE"? $\endgroup$ – hardmath May 21 '20 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ @hardmath The OP is asking if they should acknowledge the help they received here, if so how, and if not is this plagiarism. Many people who interact with this site don't even both to ask these questions, and don't acknowledge the help they receive. $\endgroup$ – user1729 May 22 '20 at 9:41

The Contributor here is specifically asking if it would be okay not to acknowledge help received from Math.SE and MathOverflow users.

The correlated issue of how to acknowledge such help has been raised several times here, c.f. How to acknowledge Math Stack Exchange which is closed as a duplicate.

Without reviewing the proposed thesis it is impossible to judge fairly if the omission of acknowledgements would entail plagiarism, that is the representation of another's work as ones own original work.

So the extent to which this Question is on-topic here is the policy that exists for acknowledging when Math.SE has been helpful. If the OP finds such acknowledgement an anathema, whether for fear of embarrassment or other concern, I can't see that it makes a legitimate topic for discussion on Meta Math.SE.


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