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An exploration of plagiarism: the perceptions of senior nurses in the context of professionalism and patient care

An exploration of plagiarism: the perceptions of senior nurses in the context of professionalism and patient care

Szczepanska, Sue (2013) An exploration of plagiarism: the perceptions of senior nurses in the context of professionalism and patient care. EdD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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The incidence of plagiarism in higher education has increased over the decades as assessment strategies widened and moved away from pure examinations (Ober, Simon, Scott and Elson, 2013). This has repercussions especially in nursing, where nurses are required to be honest and have professional integrity. This study examines senior nurses’ perception of plagiarism and its impact on professionalism and patient care. Plagiarism is associated in the minds of most nurses with the demands of academia, rather than their professional practice. This study has shown that far from plagiarism being restricted to cutting and pasting text into an assignment from the Internet without referencing, it is in fact intentional and may involve the falsification and copyright of assignments, practice documents and competencies and observation charts in the professional context. The implications of this are serious, leading to unprofessional behaviour that could potentially lead to putting the patient at risk.
This two stage qualitative constructivist enquiry was carried out using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Sixty eight participants (nurses band 7 and above) completed the questionnaires, the findings of which were used to inform the semi-structured interviews with nine individuals representative of each of the professional groups of nurses who completed the questionnaire.
The respondents strongly felt that it was unprofessional to plagiarise and bring the profession into disrepute. However, most nurses could not see past the academic-practice divide, believing that plagiarism was restricted to universities. There was a divided opinion as to whether plagiarism in practice was a matter that should be referred to the Nursing and Midwifery (NMC) Fitness to Practise Panel and whether an individual involved could be deemed an unsafe practitioner. Opinions were influenced by the extent of plagiarism involved and a lack of understanding of the professional and ethical implications.
This study has shown that there is a wide academic–practice divide, which needs to be addressed both in pre-registration through study skills and the use of OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) in assessment and post registration training. Nurses need to understand that what they learn in the classroom is directly related to what they do in practice and that plagiarism can compromise patient safety. To plagiarise an essay is unethical and unprofessional; to falsify results on an observation chart or copy the notes written by the nurse on the previous shift is potentially dangerous and could cause harm to a patient contravening the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: plagiarism; professionalism; patient care;
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:35

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