Plagiarism and medical students
Where the boundaries lie
- By: Harvey Marcovitch
You are told to write an essay on patient confidentiality. It isn’t a topic to which you’ve given much thought although you have vague memories of a lecture about it during your first week at clinical school.
You start where you always start by finding a definition on Wikipedia and jotting down a few ideas that are in your head. You have access to a number of journals and searching “confidentiality” brings up dozens of citations. You browse the most promising, picking up ideas and storing them away for future use by some judicious copying and pasting. A helpful librarian produces a booklet from the General Medical Council (GMC) on confidentiality and you are away.1
When you start piecing together the collected data you run into a problem. You can’t recall where some of the copied material originated, so to avoid any charge of plagiarism you miss out a sentence