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Ethical Scenario 10
You are a second year medical student preparing for your end of year examinations. One week before your examinations, you have a Molecules, Cells and Diseases (MCD) coursework due. One of your friends has just emailed a selection of coursework, completed by students in prior years for the same project. Explain your actions in this scenario.
This appears to be a relatively straightforward case, with almost all candidates recognising that it would be inappropriate to utilise the coursework provided, however there is a stark difference between the approach taken by those passing and those excelling in this station:
Average candidate response
- I would not use the coursework provided as this would be cheating, and I may be reprimanded for this. I would also tell me friend that they should not be sharing coursework.
Excellent Candidate response
- This case raises a number of issues in relation to my actions, my friend’s actions as well as those who have completed the coursework in prior years. My first priority would be to arrange a discussion with my friend at the earliest convenience. Whilst I would acknowledge that his intentions were likely good in ‘sharing’ this work, I would explain that this is not appropriate for a number of reasons. These reasons include:
- Sharing of coursework undermines the whole assessment process, and may affect our ability to become suitable medical professionals.
- By sharing coursework, it is possible that a number of our friends would produce similar work, which would likely result in disciplinary action.
- If my friend understood that their actions were inappropriate, I would leave them to take corrective measures, however if they defended their actions, I would consider discussing my concerns with other friends involved as well as my educational supervisor.
- Additionally, I would want to establish if the coursework had been distributed with the permission of those in older years, as any plagiarism accusations would likely involve disciplinary action towards them as well. If they were not aware that their coursework had been widely shared, I would inform them of this, and advise that in future they do not disclose their coursework to anyone.