Sentry Page Protection
Ethical Scenario 19
Every week, your classmates gather at the local coffee house to review the lessons from that week. In the last month, everyone has been working on a major paper on Vaccine Development which accounts for 40% of the course grade. One of your classmates has copies of two of the papers that last years’ students wrote for the same course. Your classmate has emailed copies of the papers to you and the other people in the group. What would you do in this situation and explain why?
From the classmate’s behaviour, it appears he doesn’t think what he’s doing is wrong. If he thought was breaking the rules, he’d be unlikely to be so direct about it. As such, your first action should be to ask him if he had permission to share the papers from the university / a tutor. If he didn’t, then his actions could be seen as bestowing an unfair advantage on your group, and potentially lead to plagiarism.
All university assessments are professional assessments, and therefore one should uphold oneself to the highest ethical standards throughout every year of study. However, they are also intensely stressful, and as such students often succumb to pressure to get ahead where they can. Talk to him about what his motivation was in sharing the papers with the others, and if he thinks it’s the right behaviour for a future doctor.
Hopefully, he’ll realise that his behaviour isn’t acceptable, delete the papers and your classmates will do the same. If he is unwilling to do this, you might need to discuss with him that this can constitute cheating, and as such might need to be reported to the medical school. In the interest of remaining empathic and not overreacting though, this should be a last resort.