Objective:The objective of this survey was to explore the attitudes towards plagiarism of faculty members and medical students in Pakistan.
Methods:The attitudes toward plagiarism questionnaire (ATPQ) was modified and distributed among 550 medical students and 130 faculty members in 7 medical colleges of Lahore and Rawalpindi. Data was entered in the SPSS v.20 and descriptive statistics were analyzed. The questionnaire was validated by principal axis factoring analysis.
Results:Response rate was 93% and 73% respectively. Principal axis factoring analysis confirmed one factor structure of ATPQ in the present sample. It had an acceptable Cronbach’s alpha value of 0.73. There were 421 medical students (218 (52%) female, 46% 3rd year MBBS students, mean age of 20.93 ± 1.4 years) and 95 faculty members (54.7% female, mean age 34.5 ± 8.9 years). One fifth of the students (19.7%) trained in medical writing (19.7%), research ethics (25.2%) or were currently involved in medical writing (17.6%). Most of the faculty members were demonstrators (66) or assistant professors (20) with work experience between 1-10 years. Most of them had trained in medical writing (68), research ethics (64) and were currently involved in medical writing (64). Medical students and faculty members had a mean score of 43.21 (7.1) and 48.4 (5.9) respectively on ATPQ. Most of the respondents did not consider that they worked in a plagiarism free environment and reported that self-plagiarism should not be punishable in the same way as plagiarism. Opinion regarding leniency in punishment of younger researchers who were just learning medical writing was divided.
Conclusions:The general attitudes of Pakistani medical faculty members and medical students as assessed by ATPQ were positive. We propose training in medical writing and research ethics as part of the under and post graduate medical curriculum.