Do medical students require education on issues related to plagiarism?

Joe Varghese, Molly Jacob

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2015.026


Abstract

In the course of our professional experience, we have seen that many medical students plagiarise. We hypothesised that they do so out of ignorance and that they require formal education on the subject. With this objective in mind, we conducted a teaching session on issues related to plagiarism. As a part of this, we administered a quiz to assess their baseline knowledge on plagiarism and a questionnaire to determine their attitudes towards it. We followed this up with an interactive teaching session, in which we discussed various aspects of plagiarism. We subjected the data obtained from the quiz and questionnaire to bivariate and multivariate analysis. A total of 423 medical students participated in the study. Their average score for the quiz was 4.96±1.67 (out of 10). Age, gender and years in medical school were not significantly associated with knowledge regarding plagiarism. The knowledge scores were negatively correlated with permissive attitudes towards plagiarism and positively correlated with attitudes critical of the practice. Men had significantly higher scores on permissive attitudes compared to women. In conclusion, we found that the medical students’ knowledge regarding plagiarism was limited. Those with low knowledge scores tended to have permissive attitudes towards plagiarism and were less critical of the practice. We recommend the inclusion of formal instruction on this subject in the medical curriculum, so that this form of academic misconduct can be tackled.

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