Whose work is it anyway?
Dr Jayne Molodynski, MPS medicolegal adviser, explores the consequences of plagiarism
lagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s work
or ideas and passing them off as one’s own – Oxford Dictionary of English (2010). You may think that plagiarism is a concept that can be filed away with old textbooks, a distant memory of something that was important while you were a student, and is irrelevant now that you are a junior doctor. Unfortunately, this is
far from the case and there are a number of circumstances in which a doctor may find themselves accused of plagiarism.
Guidance The GMC does specifically provide advice on this issue in their guidance for medical students – Medical Students: Professional Values and Fitness to Practise. In order to demonstrate that they are fit
to practise, students should: ■ ■ Be honest, genuine and original in their academic work, including when
conducting research, and take effective action if they have concerns about the honesty of others
■ ■ Be honest and trustworthy when writing reports and logbooks, and when completing and signing forms
■ ■ Be honest in CVs and all applications and not misrepresent their qualifications, position or abilities
■ ■ Not plagiarise others’ work or use their own work repeatedly in a way that could mislead.
The relevance of this guidance to your studies as a medical student is obvious; however, it is important to understand that the GMC takes the global issue of probity very seriously, and plagiarism would undoubtedly call into question someone’s probity.
Probity The GMC has included some statements on probity that junior doctors must
adhere to in its guidance: ■■ Probity means being
honest and trustworthy, and acting with integrity: this is at the heart of medical professionalism
■ ■ You must make sure that your conduct at all times justifies your patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in the profession
■■ You must be honest and trustworthy when writing reports, and when completing or signing forms, reports and other documents
■■ You must always be honest about your experience, qualifications and position, particularly when applying for posts
■■ You must do your best to make sure that any documents you write or sign are not false or misleading. This means that you must take reasonable steps to verify the information in the documents and you must not deliberately leave out relevant information.
Problem areas Areas where foundation doctors may find themselves in difficulty with plagiarism include e-portfolios, CVs and postgraduate academic work. For example, it is increasingly common for doctors to complete diplomas in education. If you are a student, or involved in research, it is important that you are familiar with the university’s definition of and regulations on plagiarism to ensure you do not leave yourself vulnerable to criticism. Another area concerns applications; many medical students and junior doctors are unaware that deaneries use anti-plagiarism software routinely when they receive applications (see case study at the end of the feature).
In the media Encountering one of the problem areas above is more common than you think – there have been several high- profile cases involving doctors
NEW DOCTOR | VOLUME 4 | ISSUE 2 | 2011 | UNITED KINGDOM www.mps.org.uk
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