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Reasons for academic honesty and dishonesty with solutions: a study of pharmacy and medical students in New Zealand


This paper presents students’ views about honest and dishonest actions within the pharmacy and medical learning environments. Students also offered their views on solutions to ameliorating dishonest action. Three research questions were posed in this paper: (1) what reasons would students articulate in reference to engaging in dishonest behaviours? (2) What reasons would students articulate in reference to maintaining high levels of integrity? (3) What strategies would students suggest to decrease engagement in dishonest behaviours and/or promote honest behaviours? The design of the study incorporated an initial descriptive analysis to interpret students’ responses to an 18-item questionnaire about justifications for dishonest action. This was followed by a qualitative analysis of students’ commentaries in reference to why students would engage in either honest or dishonest action. Finally a qualitative analysis was conducted on students’ views regarding solutions to dishonest action. The quantitative results showed that students were more likely to use time management and seriousness justifications for dishonest actions. The qualitative findings found that students’ actions (honest or dishonest) were guided by family and friends, the need to do well, issues of morality and institutional guidelines. Students suggested that dishonest action could be ameliorated by external agencies and polarised views between punitive and rewards-based mechanisms were offered. These results suggest that these students engaged in dishonest action for various reasons and solutions addressing dishonest action need to consider diverse mechanisms that likely extend beyond the educational institution.

  • Education
  • Education for Health Care Professionals
  • Education/Programs
  • Ethics

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