Unauthorized appropriation of anothers work, ideas, methods, results or words without acknowledging the source and original author. It is a theft and it is against the basic principles of science.
MeSH subject – citation according to PubMed 61% of paper – last 10 years Google – more than 24 million links ORI – Office of Research Integrity Scientific conferences on research integrity and plagiarism Plagiarism
Attitudes toward plagiarism Important to understand Culturally influenced Lack of knowledge Rules, Ethical code
Purpose of the study Studying prevalence of plagiarism among medical students and student attitudes toward plagiarism, scientific and professional misconduct will contribute to the development of the basis for university guidelines on responsible studying, especially for medical students whose responsibility is all that greater as their work and knowledge will have direct implications on human life.
Specific aims To prove the existence and establish the prevalence of plagiarism among medical students by use of student essays To determine how clear warning and punishment influence the rate of plagiarism To determine the attitudes of medical students toward different forms of plagiarism, scientific, academic and professional misconduct
To examine the general attitudes of medical students toward scientific and academic integrity and intellectual property To determine the differences in prevalence and attitudes toward plagiarism among students with respect to their sex and academic achievement Specific aims
Subjects and Methods
Subjects All second-year medical students of Rijeka University School of Medicine attending MI course (N=295, 63% woman, median age 21, range 19-27) during three academic years: 2001/2002 (N=114, 61% woman) 2002/2003 (N= 88, 69% woman) 2004/2005 (N=93, 60% woman) No difference in number, sex, age or academic achievement between three student samples
Methodes The study consisted of three parts: investigation of prevalence of plagiarism using plagiarism detection software investigation of attitudes towards six different scenarios of dishonest academic, scientific and professional behavior investigation of general attitudes towards scientific integrity and intellectual property
Prevalence of plagiarism Methods
Mandatory part of MI practicum, not graded Based on one of four provided source articles: two in e-format, two in hard copy format two with less and two with more complex topic Additional sources were not prohibited Student essays
Additionally warned that essays would be checked by plagiarism detection software and perpetrators would be punished. 3 rd student sample (y. 2003/2004) Instructions on plagiarism 2 nd student sample (y. 2001/2002) Explained what plagiarism was and strictly warned that it was forbidden. 1 st student sample (y. 2000/2001) Informed that essay should be their original intellectual creation.
Use of WCopyfind ver. 2.2 software Preparing of the essays for text analysis: parts removed from manuscripts: student data, title, literature list, figures and tables (existed in 10% of essays) Croatian diacritical signs were replaced with international Body texts of essays and source articles were compared.
Use of WCopyfind ver. 2.2 software Comparison rule parameters Comparison Rule ParameterParameter Value Shortest phrase to match6 Fewest matches to report1 Shortest text string to consider100 Most imperfections to allow2 Minimum percentage (%) of matching words80 Ignore all punctuationyes Ignore numbersyes Ignore letter caseyes Skip non-words and skip words longer than _____ characters no
Analyses of the essays: total number of words in each essay number of matching words percentage of copied text in essay (calculated) distribution of the chosen source article (with respect to availability – electronic or hard copy – and complexity) Data collected
Academic achievement of the students based on MI exam grade (passed on the 1 st attempt): excellent students grade 5 (A – excellent) and 4 (B – very good) average students grade 3 (C – good) and 2 (D – adequate) poor students failed or did not take exam at least for one year Data collected
Attitudes toward plagiarism Methods
Scenarios Six imaginary but possible scenarios of misconduct Questionnaire with 6 multiple choice questions (same for all scenarios) Epilogue (reversal of situation or aggravating circumstances) 7 th logical question (different for each scenario)
Anonymous questionnaire You consider the described behavior:A – appropriate, B – wrong,... and you consider itA – justified. B – unjustified. Should the person who committed the act be punished?A – no. B – yes, the perpetrator should be: 1 – given an oral warning. 2 – taken away the benefit obtained by the act. 3 – expelled from school, i.e., excluded from health/scientific community. Have you ever done anything similar to the described act?A – no, because: 1 – I did not have the opportunity. 2 – I consider such an act unacceptable. 3 – Im afraid of punishment. B – yes, because: 1 – I had a good reason to do it. 2 – I dont think I did anything wrong. Would you ever do anything similar to the described act?A – no, never. B – I would in exceptional situation, if there were a real and urgent need to do it. C – yes, always. Do you have any knowledge of such or similar acts taking place in reality? A – I have never heard of any similar act (I have no knowledge of any similar act). B – I have heard of such (similar) a case. C – I have witnessed or experienced it in my environment or participated in such an act.
Self-plagiarism Scenario At the sixth study year D. copied his student essay already submitted at third year of study and passed exam. Epilogue As scientist, few years latter, D. submitted and publishes his already published paper and applies for higher academic position. 7 th question Do you think this is right?
Plagiarism by the superior Scenario Prof P.H. copied his student theses in his book without acknowledging the source or cites his student M. Epilogue M. submitted his theses as scientific paper but journal editor notice similarities with P.H.s book and accused M. for plagiarism, reject manuscript and inform wider scientific community. 7 th question If you were P.H., would you than admit that you plagiarized and that your student M. is author of the text?
Cheating on exam Scenario M. did not study, but he still takes the exam for attempt. During the exam he switch the test with his colleague who replies to questions that M. does not know the answer and M. passes the exam. Epilogue Instructor noticed the test switch but because he wants to avoid exhausting explanations he just ignores it and act as if nothing happened. 7 th question Do you think that the instructor did the right thing?
Issuing a false medical report Scenario Dr. B.N. issued the medical report but did not examine a patient – his good friend A.B. who was to undergo a surgery, to spare him another visit to hospital. Epilogue Family physician copies the medical report into A.B.s medical file explaining how important the medical findings are for the course of surgery. 7 th question If you were A.B. would you tell your family physician that you were not examined?
General attitudes toward academic and scientific integrity and intellectual property Methods
Anonymous questionnaire six logical questions (yes/no) completed after passed MI exam - Have you as a student been introduced to the principles of academic and research integrity? - Do you consider intellectual property equal to other forms of property? - Should the School have clearly articulated rules against plagiarism included in the official documents? - Do you think that a researcher has to be completely honest in his/her work, irrespective of circumstances? - In your opinion, is it acceptable to ignore research results that are not very important or in accordance with most other (expected) results? - Is the following statement true: who cheats once, will cheat again, at least when presented with the opportunity?
Proportion of plagiarized text Median plagiarism rate 7% (5 th -95 th percentile = 0-84%)
Distribution of students with respect of plagiarized text Proportion of plagiarised text [%] Number of students
Proportion of plagiarised text No difference between female and male students (8% vs. 6%) No difference between hard copy and electronic format of source (14% vs. 6%) No difference between simpler and more complex topic of source (7% vs. 10%)
Proportion of plagiarized text Warning against plagiarism (student sample) Difference between 2004/2005 student sample and the others (17% vs. 21% vs. 2%, P<0.001) Student sample Percentage of plagiarized text [%] 2001/ / /2005
Proportion of plagiarized text Academic achivement (overall) No difference beetwen poor, average and excelent students (6% vs. 12% vs. 6%) Academic achivement Percentage of plagiarized text [%] pooraverageexcellent
Proportion of plagiarized text Academic achivement (only 2001/2002 and 2002/2003 sample) Difference between excellent students and the others (25 % vs. 22% vs. 12 %, P=0.015) Academic achivement Percentage of plagiarized text [%] pooraverageexcellent
Availability of source article Student sample P<0.001
Complexty of topic of source article Student sample P<0.001
Length of essay (number of words) Difference between all three student samples (455 vs. 553 vs. 399, P<0.001) Student sample Number of words 2001/ / /5005
Appropriateness Scenario AppropriateWrong Self-plagiarism6530 Plagiarism with authors consent1877 Plagiarism without authors consent590 Plagiarism by the superior1667 Cheating on exam2565 Issuing a false medical report783 Percentage (%) of students presented. Do not add up to 100% because of missing values.
Justifiability Scenario JustifiedUnjustified Self-plagiarism7516 Plagiarism with authors consent5532 Plagiarism without authors consent2864 Plagiarism by the superior2159 Cheating on exam5730 Issuing a false medical report1769 Percentage (%) of students presented. Do not add up to 100% because of missing values.
Punishement Scenario No Just verbal Take the benefit away Expell Self-plagiarism79970 Plagiarism with authors consent Plagiarism without authors consent Plagiarism by the superior Cheating on exam Issuing a false medical report Percentage (%) of students presented. Do not add up to 100% because of missing values.
Students who have NOT done anything similar to described scenario Scenario Did not have opportunity Consider it unacceptable Because of punishment Self-plagiarism5573 Plagiarism with authors consent48286 Plagiarism without authors consent32498 Plagiarism by the superior49282 Cheating on exam45209 Issuing a false medical report59271 Percentage (%) of students presented. Do not add up to 100% because of missing values.
Scenario Because of good reason It is not wrong Self-plagiarism821 Plagiarism with authors consent91 Plagiarism without authors consent32 Plagiarism by the superior21 Cheating on exam96 Issuing a false medical report11 Percentage (%) of students presented. Do not add up to 100% because of missing values. Students who have already done something similar to described scenario
Would you ever do anything similar to the scenario? Scenario Never Exceptionally (in need) Always Self-plagiarism66029 Plagiarism with authors consent24663 Plagiarism without authors consent37571 Plagiarism by the superior40394 Cheating on exam Issuing a false medical report39483 Percentage (%) of students presented. Do not add up to 100% because of missing values.
Knowledge of such or similar event in reality Scenario Never heard of Just heard of Witnessed or experienced Self-plagiarism Plagiarism with authors consent Plagiarism without authors consent Plagiarism by the superior46334 Cheating on exam Issuing a false medical report Percentage (%) of students presented. Do not add up to 100% because of missing values.
Q: Were you as a student introduced to the principles of research and academic integrity?
Q: Do you consider intellectual property equal to other forms or property?
Q: Should a school have clearly articulated rules against plagiarism included in the official documents?
Q: Do you think that a scientist has to be completely honest in her or his work irrespective of the circumstances?
Q: Is it permissible in research to ignore individual results that are not very important and do not correspond to the expected results?
Q: Is the following true: Once a cheater, always a cheater, or at least when there is an opportunity?
Results on general attitudes Answers – socialy diserable No difference beetwen men and women in distribution of answers to any question No difference beetwen student sample in distribution of answers to any question
Conclusions Plagiarism is present among medical students The proportion of plagiarized text – not influenced by the availability of the source or by the complexity of the essay topic Significant reduction – only by awareness of objective check methods and punishment Just teaching and clear warning not enough
Conclusions Student attitudes are worrisome – need for teaching and promotion of the principles of academic integrity among students. Inconsistency in student attitudes – indicates the lack of knowledge and recognition of an act as wrong. General attitudes – socially desirable answers, in contradiction with their behavior
Conclusions Academic achievement – influenced the plagiarism in student essays only if they were not warned about the subsequent computer- check of their work and punishment Faculty awareness of the inappropriate attitudes of students toward academic misconduct – education and promotion of the highest standards of academic integrity
Plagiarism as well as other forms of misconduct should be recognized and must not be tolerated.