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Xjenza Online Vol. 9 Special Issue
Students’ Attitude towards Academic Misconduct Scenarios: A Review and Pilot Study

Authors: Alexia Grech, Hackenbruch Sophie, Isabel Stabile

Corresponding: Isabel Stabile (isabel.stabile@um.edu.mt)

Keywords: Medical Students, Academic Honesty, Plagiarism, Exam Cheating, Forging signatures, Integrity, Objective Structured Clinical Examination

Doi: 10.7423/XJENZA.2021.3.07

Abstract:
To determine the prevalence of academic misconduct among medical students in a predominantly Catholic EU country.
Medical students at the University of Malta (UM) responded to an online questionnaire about academic misconduct scenarios. Results were analysed by Chi-squared and unpaired t-tests.
The response rate was 10% (n=75; 57% female; 81% locals; 89% under 25). Significantly more females considered threats upon students, abuse of alcohol/drugs, and inappropriate language as serious offenses. Fewer than 20% agreed that writing a piece of work for another student or lending own work to be copied, were serious offenses; 30% would not inform faculty of serious misconduct and 41% were unsure whether they should. Forging signatures, cheating during exams, damaging property, lying about their CV and threatening others topped the list of offenses considered wrong. Thirty-eight percent of all students and 15% of Year 5 students reported that it was not wrong to inform others about a just completed OSCE (p=0.0004); 10% admitted having done it (p=0.001). Significantly more Year 2 students agreed that failure to inform the University of a previous conviction for theft was wrong (p=0.04); 8-10% of students admitted copying during exams, copying others word-for-word or writing work for other students; 18% had/would forge signatures on official records.
Medical students at UM behave similarly to those elsewhere in terms of academic dishonesty. Utilizing only assessment of knowledge to determine academic progression may not adequately equip students with those characteristics that would be expected of them as junior doctors.