Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contact us Login 
  • Users Online:478
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page


 
 Table of Contents  
MEDICAL EDUCATION
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 270-277

Plagiarism in a resource-constrained context: A cross-sectional study of post-graduate medical college trainees and fellows in a tertiary health institution in South East Nigeria


1 Department of Family Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria
2 Department of Public Health, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria
3 Department of Anaesthesiology, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication27-Dec-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Gabriel Uche Pascal Iloh
Department of Family Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Abia State
Nigeria
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/amhs.amhs_103_18

Rights and Permissions
  Abstract 


Background: Globally, plagiarism is a crack on academic and professional integrity that has permeated the fabrics of medical education and constitutes a threat to genuine scholarships. Objective: The study was aimed at describing the prevalence, attitude, enabling factors, punitive, and preventive measures for plagiarism in a cross-section of postgraduate medical college trainees and fellows in a tertiary health institution in South-East Nigeria. Materials and Methods: A descriptive study was carried out in a cross-section of one hundred and 43 study participants from postgraduate medical college trainees and fellows in a tertiary health institution in Nigeria. Data collection was done using pretested, self-administered questionnaire that elicited information on awareness, prevalence, and attitude toward plagiarism (ATP). ATP was assessed with 29-item prevalidated ATP tool. Operationally, favorable range of scores for academic integrity was low-positive attitude, high-negative attitude and low subjective norms, respectively. Enabling factors, punitive and preventive measures were also studied. Results: The age of trainees ranged from 26 to 47 years with a mean of 36 ± 9.8, whereas the age of fellows ranged from 35 to 59 years with a mean of 43 ± 8.2. All the respondents were aware of plagiarism. The prevalence of plagiarism was 23.8%. Committals of plagiarism predominantly occurred during undergraduate project writings. For trainees, the mean scores for positive attitude, negative attitude, and subjective norms were 53 ± 5 (high), 12 ± 2 (low), and 30 ± 8 (moderate), respectively, while for fellows, the mean scores for positive attitude, negative attitude, and subjective norms were 35 ± 6 (moderate), 22 ± 3 (moderate) and 30 ± 5 (moderate), respectively. The most common enabling factor and punishment were ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism and demotion, respectively. The most common preventive measures were the use of anti-plagiarism software and education on what constitutes plagiarism. Conclusion: This study has shown that plagiarism occurred among the study participants. The level of awareness of plagiarism was very high but did not translate to appropriate positive, negative, and subjective norms attitudinal orientation required for academic integrity. The most common enabling factor and punishment for plagiarism were ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism and demotion, respectively.

Keywords: Attitude, enabling factors, fellows, Nigeria, plagiarism, postgraduate medical college, prevalence, trainees


How to cite this article:
Iloh GU, Amadi AN, Chukwuonye ME, Godswill-Uko EU. Plagiarism in a resource-constrained context: A cross-sectional study of post-graduate medical college trainees and fellows in a tertiary health institution in South East Nigeria. Arch Med Health Sci 2018;6:270-7

How to cite this URL:
Iloh GU, Amadi AN, Chukwuonye ME, Godswill-Uko EU. Plagiarism in a resource-constrained context: A cross-sectional study of post-graduate medical college trainees and fellows in a tertiary health institution in South East Nigeria. Arch Med Health Sci [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 May 26];6:270-7. Available from: http://www.amhsjournal.org/text.asp?2018/6/2/270/248652




  Introduction Top


Globally, scientific misconduct, especially plagiarism is a menace on academic, research, and professional integrity that impacts adversely on the credibility, usability, reliability, and validity of scholarships at all levels of medical education and professionalism.[1],[2] Research misconduct has been defined by various authors and working groups in academia,[1],[2],[3] committees of medical[4],[5],[6] and science journal editors,[7] and government institutions.[8] According to the United States of America Research Institution, research misconduct is falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research or reporting research results.[8] Academic, scientific or research misconduct, therefore, includes plagiarism, fabrication, falsification, deception, and other unethical behavior in professional scientific research activities with the most frequently violated misconduct being plagiarism.[1],[3],[8]

Etymologically, the word “plagiarism” was derived from the Latin word “plagiarius” meaning “kidnapping” or “plunderer.”[9] In general, plagiarism refers to using the intellectual product of someone else, which includes texts, ideas, and results, and projecting them as one's own.[10] It is the unacknowledged use of other people's ideas or words and comprises the use of published or unpublished data in the original language or as a translation without crediting the author(s).[3]

Plagiarism has been variously regarded as a global phenomenon that occurs at disproportionate magnitude in resource-poor settings where there are limited proficiencies in the use of information communication technology for the detection of plagiarized academic or literary works.[11] It is an egregious form of misconduct,[12] crack on academic integrity,[13] theft of another person's intellectual property,[6],[12] threat to research integrity,[12] an academic dishonesty,[14] an academic plague,[15] emperor of academic and cultural maladies,[16] and crafted publications.[17] Different types of plagiarism have been reported in literary publications such as intentional and unintentional plagiarism.[2],[18] While intentional plagiarism includes direct, mosaic, paraphrasing, insufficient acknowledgments,[2],[4],[5],[6],[7] and self-plagiarism or auto-plagiarism.[16],[19] Other patterns of plagiarism such as blatant, technical, patchwork, text-recycling, literal, and substantial copying have also been described in literature.[12],[15],[20]

In recent years, the burden of academic and scientific misconduct, especially prevalence and attitude toward plagiarism (ATP) have been the focus of interest in Nigeria[13],[15],[20],[21] and other parts of the world such as the United States of America,[8],[22] Saudi Arabia,[18] Australia,[23] India,[24] Iran,[25] China,[26] Romania,[27] Pakistan,[28] and Croatia.[29] Despite the negative view of the academic, professional and scientific community toward plagiarism, research studies[18],[25],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34],[35],[36] have shown that a considerable proportion of members of academia in different parts of the world commit plagiarism with higher prevalence reported in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).[36] In a systematic screening of manuscripts submitted to Croatia Medical Journal, 11% prevalence of plagiarism was reported over 2 years,[29] whereas Pupovac and Fanelli, in a meta-analysis of research surveys on plagiarism adduced that about 2% of authors did not attribute ideas they used to their original owners.[31]

Factors that predispose, prompt, promote, and perpetuate plagiarism have also been reported within and across different academic and biomedical scientific activities[12],[13],[15],[21],[25],[26] and these factors include easy access to wealth of information on the internet that makes copy and paste of words and work of others without appropriate recognition; pressure to pass medical examinations, pressure to increase the number of publications for academic promotion (publish or perish phenomenon); the attitude of authors and peer review boards of some journals and professional regulation body; language barrier, lack of moral ethics for intellectual properties, ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism, and the absence of policy on plagiarism.

Several tools have been used to study plagiarism in an academic and professional environment such as attitude to plagiarism instrument[37] and plagiarism attitude questionnaires.[38] However, there is no universally accepted plagiarism scale or index that is applicable across all subject discipline or research community or specific to students or the scientific community in every socio-academic or professional settings. A research on ATP tailored to the socio-professional and academic context of the Nigerian nation is needed, particularly in postgraduate medical education and training.

In Nigeria, plagiarism is an issue of concern in institutions of higher learning[13],[15],[20],[21] including the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and West African Postgraduate Medical Colleges (West African College of Physicians and West African College of Surgeons). There are several widely held ideas and misconceptions about plagiarism in the sub-region with anecdotal observations and review articles[13],[15],[20],[21] throwing more light on the academic perils of plagiarism. As the access to literary materials in internet increases in Nigeria, the prevalence of plagiarism is expected to rise unless effective interventional measures are designed and implemented to enable its proactive detection and prevention. The West African Postgraduate Medical Colleges and National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria have made casebooks and dissertations as part of their curricular and requirements for the award of Fellowship of the Colleges. However, in Nigeria, there is a paucity of published research regarding the prevalence, ATP, enabling factors, punitive, and preventive measures for plagiarism among postgraduate medical college trainees and fellows. The choice and selection of trainees and fellows of the postgraduate medical Colleges in the study area are based on the premise that trainees are expected to conduct researches as part of their curricular and fellowship examinations while fellows are expected to supervise and examine fellowship casebooks and dissertations, conduct research for career progression as well as improvement on patient care. The creation of appropriate ATP and overcoming the factors that predispose to plagiarism preeminently relies on postgraduate medical college trainees and fellows' attitudinal orientations to the committal of plagiarism during scientific and academic research conduct. It is based on this background that the researchers were motivated to study the prevalence, attitude, enabling factors, punitive, and preventive measures for plagiarism in a cross-section of postgraduate medical College trainees and fellows in a tertiary health institution in South-east, Nigeria.


  Materials and Methods Top


This was a cross-sectional descriptive study carried out on 143 trainees and fellows of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and/or West African Postgraduate Medical College under the employment of Federal Medical Centre Umuahia, a tertiary health institution in South-East, Nigeria. In Nigeria, postgraduate medical residency training is undertaken by National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and West African Postgraduate Medical College. The two postgraduate medical Colleges offer residency training in medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties. In addition to mandatory dissertation component of postgraduate medical training, trainees of both colleges participate in various types of health science research as part of their extra-curricular academic activities while the fellows supervise the dissertation proposals, conduct, and writing of the dissertations as well as participate in health science research for academic promotion, especially those in academic medicine in Nigerian universities.

Federal Medical Centre Umuahia is one of the Federal Tertiary Health Institutions in Nigeria, located in Umuahia metropolis, Abia State, Nigeria. The Hospital is accredited for postgraduate medical education by West African and National Postgraduate Medical Colleges in core medical and surgical specialties. The specialties clinics are run by fellows and postgraduate medical trainees of both colleges.

Postgraduate medical trainees and fellows of West African Postgraduate Medical Colleges and/or National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria who gave informed consent for the study and participated in the Annual General Meeting of Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Medical Centre Umuahia Chapter held in December 2017 for the trainees and Medical and Dental Consultant Association of Nigeria, Federal Medical Centre Umuahia Chapter General Meeting held in April 2018 for the fellows.

The sample size for the study was determined using on-line sample size calculating software for descriptive study. The institution had 138 trainees and 80 fellows. This gave a total number of college members and fellows of 218. The input criteria for sample size estimation were set at 95% confidence level, the confidence interval of 5 and population of 218 trainees and fellows. This gave a sample size estimate of 139 participants. The sample size calculating software assumed the maximum possible proportion of 50% (0.50) which produced the maximum possible sample size. The online sample size calculator is available at www.surveysystem.com, accessed on February 1, 2017. The sample size of 143 made up of 101 trainees and 42 fellows were used to improve the precision of the study.

The study instrument consisted of sections on demographic data such as age and college status. Other information included awareness of plagiarism, ATP, practice orientation, enabling factors, punishment, and preventive measures for plagiarism.

The ATP was assessed using 29-item prevalidated ATP questionnaire[37] which contained 29 statements on a 5-point Likert scale (graded 1-strongly disagree, 2-disagree, 3-neither agree nor disagree, 4-agree, and 5-strongly agree) for each statement. The ATP questionnaire was divided into three main sections; positive ATP, negative ATP and subjective norms toward plagiarism. Positive attitudinal factor was measured by 12 statements with score range of 12–60. Negative attitude was determined by seven statements with score range of 7–35 while subjective norms were measured by 10 statements with score range of 10–50. The questions under each attitudinal factor were haphazardly arranged to avoid response bias. The scores for the questions under positive, negative, and subjective norms were summed up separately and the mean scores were calculated, respectively, for trainees and fellows. The scores on attitudinal factors were compared with the reference scores which were favorable for academic integrity and included low-positive factor attitudinal score range (12–28) which indicated attitude with lower inclination toward plagiarism; high negative factor attitudinal score range (27–35) meant attitude with dislike and no tolerance of plagiarism, whereas low subjective norms attitudinal score (10–23) indicated unacceptability of plagiarism in the communities.[24],[39]

The committal, enabling factors, punishment, and preventive measures for plagiarism sections of the study tool was designed by the researchers to suit the Nigerian environment through robust review of appropriate literature on plagiarism.[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34],[35],[36],[37],[38],[40] Face, construct and content validity of the practice, enabling factors, punishment, and preventive measures for plagiarism of the questionnaire were obtained through a review process with experts in the field of epidemiology, bioethics, and health science research and publications.

The study tool was pretested using 10 medical doctors at Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia. The pretesting was done to find how the questions would interact with the respondents and ensure there were no ambiguities. However, no change was necessary after the pretesting as the questions were interpreted with the same meaning as intended. The questionnaire was self-administered since the participants are health literate.

Operationally, positive ATP indicates approval and justification of such behavior. Negative ATP reflects condemnation and disapproval of plagiarism. Subjective norms express common thinking about the prevalence of plagiarism and the acceptance of such behaviour in the academic and scientific communities.

Ethical certification was obtained from the Health Research and Ethics Committee of Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia with reference number FMC/QEH/G.596/Vol. 10/294 Dated December 15, 2017. Informed consent was also obtained from the participants included in the study.

The data generated was analyzed using software International Business Machines Corporation, Statistical Package for Social Sciences (IBM SPSS) version 21, New York, USA. Descriptive statistics were described by frequencies and percentages. Mann-Whitney-U test was used to compare the mean scores of ATP ordinal scale responses between trainees and fellows. In all cases, a value of P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant and was estimated at 95% confidence limit.


  Results Top


Of the 143 participants who participated in the study, 101 of them were trainees, whereas 42 were fellows of either or both National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria and/or West African Postgraduate Medical Colleges, respectively. All the participants were aware of plagiarism (100.0%). Of the one hundred and 43 participants who participated in the study, 34 of them were involved in the committal of plagiarism given the prevalence of plagiarism of 23.8% [Table 1].
Table 1: Awareness and prevalence of plagiarism among the study participants (n=143)

Click here to view


[Table 2] shows the frequency distribution of the study participants based on the committal of plagiarism by the facets of academic and scientific writing where the incident of plagiarism occurred. Plagiarism occurred most commonly during the writing of undergraduate projects (73.5%).
Table 2: Committal of plagiarism by the facets of academic/scientific writing where the incident occurred (n=34)

Click here to view


[Table 3] showcases the mean scores for the trainees of positive attitude, negative attitude, and subjective norms of 53 ± 5 (high), 12 ± 2 (low), and 30 ± 8 (moderate), respectively, while for the fellows, the mean scores for positive attitude, negative attitude, and subjective norms were 35 ± 6 (moderate), 22 ± 3 (moderate), and 30 ± 5 (moderate), respectively.
Table 3: Attitude towards plagiarism scores of the study participants

Click here to view


On comparison of mean ATP scores between the trainees and fellows using Mann–Whitney U-test, positive attitude (P = 0.001), and negative attitude (P = 0.018) toward plagiarism were statistically significant, whereas subjective norms were not statistically significant (P = 0.289) [Table 4].
Table 4: Comparison of attitude towards plagiarism scores between trainees and fellows

Click here to view


[Table 5] shows the distribution of the study participants based on enabling factors, punitive, and preventive measures for plagiarism. The most common enabling factor and punishment were ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism and demotion, respectively. The most common preventive measures were the use of anti-plagiarism software and education on what constitutes plagiarism.
Table 5: Enabling factors, punitive and preventive measures for plagiarism (n=143)

Click here to view



  Discussion Top


The prevalence of plagiarism was 23.8%. The occurrence of plagiarism had been reported in different parts of the world among postgraduate medical college faculty members and fellows in Saudi Arabia,[18] India,[24] Iran,[25] and Pakistan.[28] According to these reports,[18],[24],[25],[28] the ideal quality of an academic and scholarly work is the passion for originality and integrity. Although research studies[27],[41],[42] have recognized lack of knowledge of ethics of academic research writing as one of the factors associated with plagiarism among undergraduate medical students, the same cannot be extrapolated to postgraduate faculty trainees and fellows who must have been aware of academic perils of plagiarism as demonstrated in the finding of this study where all the respondents were aware of plagiarism. Admittedly, the temptation to plagiarize is easy and simple to conceptualize and contextualize, but the implications on genuine scholarship are of great concern to the global academic, scientific, and professional communities. In the past in Nigeria,[15],[20],[21] textbooks, journals, newspapers, and other gray literature were the sources of plagiarism but currently easy access to the pool of information from electronic resources with computer and Internet connections have worsened the already alarming situation among trainees and fellows. The favourable and potentially robust research environment of the internet can prompt plagiarism, especially in the presence of deficient background on scientific research and other diverse academic medical endeavors.[15],[42] Of great interest in Nigerian postgraduate medical collegiate departments, institutions, and universities, due to the pressure to complete academic and fellowship dissertations among the trainees or to satisfy the requirements for promotion among tenure lecturers or appointment to professorial cadre in academic medicine, plagiarism has crept into academic, professional, and scientific writings. Suffice it to say, that the risk of plagiarism outweighs the benefits, especially if the plagiarism is detected, thus emphasizing the need to police plagiarism in all its ramifications and spin-off.[10],[43] Adoption of clear and strict policies against plagiarism is quintessential to changing postgraduate trainees and fellows ATP and will enhance their understanding and acknowledgement of plagiarism as an unethical academic conduct that negates the credibility of scholarship at all levels of medical education. This will ensure reputable academic writing to earn scientific and professional respect for there is dignity in scholastic labour.

This study has revealed that trainees and fellows had high awareness of plagiarism, but the awareness did not translate to appropriate positive, negative, and subjective norms attitudinal orientations required for academic integrity. This finding of high awareness of plagiarism with noncommensurable positive, negative, and subjective norms attitudinal orientations required for academic integrity has been reported among faculty members and fellows in Saudi Arabia,[18] India,[24] Iran,[25] and Pakistan.[28] However, in this study, fellows have attitudinal orientations in the domains of positive and negative attitude leaning toward disapproval of plagiarism when compared to the trainees. This could be a reflection of years of academic and professional study during the fellowship programs, supervision of fellowship dissertations and case books, postfellowship participation in research, and submitting of scientific manuscripts for publications in high impact journals that do plagiarism checks on all submitted manuscripts before publication. The finding of this study has lent credence to the assertion that trainees are very much interested in passing their examinations at all cost while fellows (trainers) see plagiarism as a crack on academic integrity that impoverishes the spirit of professional and scientific writing and a theft of genuine scholarships.[13] In addition, trainees are more likely to have little interest in research publications as well as poverty of guidance, supervision, and mentoring for writing original articles for publications. This study has revealed the need to provide supervision and mentorship, additional training and education on ethics of academic writing and publications that are necessary in changing the attitude of trainees toward plagiarism as well as improving the attitude of fellows toward plagiarism to the level recommended for academic integrity. It is, therefore, crystal clear that if this attitudinal trend favouring plagiarism among the trainees is continued, academic and scientific research activities in the collegiate departments and institutions may become mere duplications of previous studies with monumental lack of originality and little or no contributions to the frontiers of medical knowledge.

The most common enabling factor for plagiarism in this study was ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism. This is in consonance with the reports from other research studies in Nigeria[15],[20],[21],[44],[45] and other parts of the world such as Saudi Arabia,[18] India,[24] Iran,[25] China,[26] and Pakistan.[28] Despite the fact that plagiarism can be committed advertently or inadvertently, actively or inactively, wittingly or unwittingly, consciously or subconsciously, but the mind-boggling issue is that plagiarism is most often dismissed with waves of the hand by many fellows and trainees in the region.[13] Of great concern in Nigeria is that excellence in research and patient care would be unrealistic in the environment of trainees and fellows ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism being fully aware that plagiarism threatens contribution to advancement of medical knowledge and quality of patient care. Veritably, knowledge is power but knowledge should be acquired through authentic and genuine learning and scholarships. With the exponential increase in research publications, publish or perish or pilfer syndrome in Nigerian academia[13],[15],[20],[21] and other parts of the world such as china[46] and India,[47] there is need for fellows and trainees to understand the ethics of health science research as recommended by the International Centre for Academic Integrity in addition to ethics of journaling.[4],[5],[6],[7] The postgraduate medical collegiate departments and institutions in Nigeria should, therefore, know that plagiarism is one of the greatest challenges of credibility of scholarships as it interrupts the reward system and corrupts research and academic legitimacy by denying credits to those who deserve them. There is, therefore, need to examine the integrity and originality of publications in the postgraduate medical colleges' journals as well as fellowship dissertations and case books submitted to the colleges for any or sundry academic writing frauds to achieve scholarships through genuine effort and endeavor.

The most common punishment for plagiarism was the loss of promotion or reduction in rank (demotion). Others included academic probation, termination or dismissal, retraction of literary work, and revocation of fellowship awards. However, the penalties should be guided by the degree of plagiarism.[17],[30],[33],[34] Of great relevance in Nigeria is the dismissal and demotion of lecturers and professors who were involved in plagiarism at University of Calabar, South-South Nigeria,[48] and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, South-West Nigeria.[49] Plagiarism whether intentional or unintentional should be avoided by trainees and fellows. Training and education on plagiarism opens the heart of trainees and fellows to new possibilities in academic medicine and has the potential to be a major driver of fighting plagiarism in postgraduate collegiate departments and institutions. It is generally acknowledged that prevention is better, cheaper and safer than cure, but it is doubtful if plagiarism will be eliminated completely from the academic and scientific writing without actionable discipline. There is, therefore, the need to strengthen the ability to detect plagiarism and appropriately punish the culprits and offenders. Punitive discipline alone may not be sufficient to eradicate the academic plague of plagiarism, and hence, corrective discipline and measures involving education on what constitutes plagiarism and to check plagiarism are, therefore, academic and professional imperatives of the moment.[50] This will ensure plagiarism-free scientific and academic environment and safeguard the integrity of the genuine scholarship and professionalism. Granted that positive or negative attitude, favorable or unfavorable subjective norms toward plagiarism are the product of personal belief and perception, but availability of easily accessible plagiarism detection software is a step forward toward plagiarism prevention. It is, therefore, quintessential that every fellow (trainer) and trainee of the postgraduate medical colleges in Nigeria be equipped with adequate competence on plagiarism check. This will enable postgraduate medical college trainees and trainers benefit from remarkable increase in the quality of academic and professional research activities reportedly observed among their counterparts in advanced nations. In addition, punitive policies have to be developed and enforced by the postgraduate medical colleges in Nigeria in dealing with established cases of plagiarism involving fellows and trainees.

The most common preventive measures for plagiarism among the study respondents were use of anti-plagiarism software and education on what constitutes plagiarism. Although unconscious plagiarism exist in Nigeria,[15],[20],[21] and other environments were plagiarism is ill-defined or commonly practiced, it is never ethical to plagiarize, occasionally, deliberately, or habitually as plagiarism constitutes a threat to genuine scholarship. However, some scholars[50] opined that plagiarism can be deterred through information and education not threats but anecdotal reports in Nigeria[48],[49] and other parts of the world[43],[46],[47] have shown that action is louder than words and punitive measures could dissuade and deter prospective plagiarists.[43],[51],[52] Accordingly, being caught and punished for plagiarism have been shown to be the most important factor discouraging committal of plagiarism in Nigeria.[48],[49] Furthermore, successful strategies have to be developed and enforced by the postgraduate medical colleges in Nigeria for preventing plagiarism. There are many web-based and commercially available software's with or without fees that can be used to check for plagiarism such as Turnitin, Plagiarisma, iThenticate, Cross-Check, Plagiarism detect, Plagiarism checker-x, Copyscape, Free search, Google scholar, and eTBLAST. The availability and utility of plagiarism detection software by all faculties and institutional departments of the postgraduate medical colleges in Nigeria would help to limit the occurrence of plagiarism. Fellows should devote more time to the supervision of trainees' literary works so that they can detect plagiarism and penalize as appropriately. This will promote trainees engagement in meaningful literary works that will contribute to excellence and advancement in postgraduate medical training, education, and development. Adoption of any plagiarism detection software must be combined with pragmatic training and teaching of trainees and fellows on rules and regulations guiding plagiarism to curb the conundrum of plagiarism in postgraduate medical education. Effort should be intensified in teaching trainees and fellows on the use of plagiarism detection tools to guide against slipping into the quagmire of plagiarism during academic writing and more often than not to detect plagiarism when it occurs. There is, therefore, the need to create a collegiate institutional plagiarism-free environment in order to safeguard the academic integrity of membership, fellowship, and postfellowship accolades. Developing appropriate measures aimed at deterrence, policing, retribution, retraction, revocation as well as training, education, and reformation on plagiarism are the need of the hour and crucial in maintaining an academic postgraduate medical community devoid of the menace of plagiarism.

Implications of the study

The findings for this study have implications for journalogy, academic, and scholarly writings, especially in LMICs. It demonstrates that plagiarism in all its ramifications should be seen as a threat to genuine scholarships and kidnapping the research creativity, words, or ideas of others inappropriately compromises integrity and quality of research. Admittedly, the best plagiarism detector is the plagiarist who committed the plagiarism because he or she already knows whether the scholarly work is genuine or what part is plagiarized. It is, therefore, quintessential for trainees and trainers of the postgraduate medical colleges in the region to maintain an environment of academic, professional, and research integrity devoid of the plague and menace of plagiarism. This will help to maintain the highest level of scientific conduct favorable for academic integrity in the region.

Limitations of the study

The limitations of this study are recognized by the researchers. First, the study was based on self-report instead of objective evaluation. However, there is a tendency to under-report prevalence of plagiarism in addition to social desirable responses. Second, the study was on trainees and fellows from one institutional centre thus generalization of the results to other collegiate institutions should be done with caution. Despite these limitations, the study provides valuable data with implications for postgraduate medical education in the region for comparative and consultative purposes.


  Conclusion Top


This study has shown that plagiarism occurred among the study participants. The level of awareness of plagiarism was very high but did not translate to appropriate positive, negative, and subjective norms attitudinal orientation required for academic integrity. The most common enabling factor and punishment for plagiarism were ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism and demotion, respectively. The most common preventive measures were use of anti-plagiarism software and education on what constitutes plagiarism.

Recommendations

There is need to intensify and sensitize postgraduate medical trainees and fellows on the concepts, context and operations of plagiarism by various examining and publication bodies of West African Postgraduate Medical Colleges and National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. Plagiarism should, therefore, be the focus of intensive continuing medical education in addition to greater college support on the use of anti-plagiarism software to safeguard academic and scientific integrity.

Further research direction

Further research direction that will be multicentre in design is needed to assess the extent to which the results could be generalized to other accredited postgraduate medical residency training institutions in Nigeria. This will provide additional data for widespread intervention purposes.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Helgesson G, Eriksson S. Plagiarism in research. Med Health Care Philos 2015;18:91-101.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Luksanapruksa P, Millhouse PW. Guidelines on what constitutes plagiarism and electronic tools to detect it. Clin Spine Surg 2016;29:119-20.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Skandalakis JE, Mirilas P. Plagiarism. Arch Surg 2004;139:1022-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Available from: http://www.icmje.org/. [Last accessed on 2018 Jan 02].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
World Association of Medical Editors. Publication Ethics Policies for medical Journals: Plagiarism. Available from: http://www.wame.org/resourses/publication-ethics-policies-for-medical-journals#plagiarism. [Last accessed on 2018 Jan 02].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Committee on Publication Ethics: Promoting Integrity in Research and its Publication. Available from: https://www.publicationethics.org/. [Last accessed on 2018 Jan 02].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Council of Science Editors. Available from: https://www.councilscienceeditors.org/. [Last accessed on 2017 Nov 02].  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Resnik DB, Neal T, Raymond A, Kissling GE. Research misconduct definitions adopted by U.S. research institutions. Account Res 2015;22:14-21.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Mangalore SS. What's the Origin of the Word Plagiarism? The Times of India; 2006. Available from: http://www.articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2006-05-07/open-space/27790289_1_origin-plagiarism-word. [Last retrieved on 2017 Feb 02].  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Butler D. Journals step up plagiarism policing. Nature 2010;466:167.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Khan HH, Khan ZH, Zafar B, Malik MB. Plagiarism: A global dilemma. Benha Med J 2017;34:58-58.  Back to cited text no. 11
  [Full text]  
12.
Juyal D, Thawani V, Thaledi S. Plagiarism: An egregious form of misconduct. N Am J Med Sci 2015;7:77-80.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Dienye PO, Diete-Spiff KO, Ndukwu GU. Plagiarism: A crack in academic integrity. Niger J Fam Pract 2014;5:1-4.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Song-Turner H. Plagiarism: Academic dishonesty or ‘blind spot’ of multicultural education? Aust Univ Rev 2008;50:39-51.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Onuoha UD, Ikonne CN. Dealing with the plague of plagiarism in Nigeria. J Educ Pract 2013;4:102-6.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Zaenker KS. Editorial the emperor of all academic and cultural maladies in scientific writing: Plagiarism and auto-plagiarism. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets 2012;11:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Jain SK, Sharma S. Crafted publication. Acta Med Int 2017;4:iv-v.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.
Kattan AE, Alshomer F, Alhujayri AK, Alfaqeeh F, Alaska Y, Alshakrah K. The practice and attitude towards plagiarism among postgraduate trainees in Saudi Arabia. J Health Spec 2017;5:181-4.  Back to cited text no. 18
  [Full text]  
19.
Rösing CK, Cury AA. Self-plagiarism in scientific journals: An emerging discussion. Braz Oral Res 2013;27:451-2.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
20.
Maina A, Main M, Jauros S. Plagiarism: A perspective from a case of a Northern Nigeria University. Int J Inf Res Rev 2014;1:225-30.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
21.
Orim SI, Davies JW, Borg E. Exploring Nigerian postgraduate students' experience of plagiarism: A phenomenographic case study. Int J Educ Integr 2013;9:20-34.  Back to cited text no. 21
    
22.
Heitman E, Litewka S. International perspectives on plagiarism and considerations for teaching international trainees. Urol Oncol 2011;29:104-8.  Back to cited text no. 22
    
23.
Brimble M, Stevenson-Clarke P. Perceptions of the prevalence and seriousness of academic dishonesty in Australian Universities. Aust Educ Res 2005;32:19-44.  Back to cited text no. 23
    
24.
Gomez MS, Nagesh L, Sujatha BK. Assessment of the attitude towards plagiarism among dental postgraduate students and faculty members in Bapuji dental college and hospital, Davangere – A cross sectional survey. J Dent Med Sci 2014;13:1-6.  Back to cited text no. 24
    
25.
Ghajarzadeh M, Norouzi-Javidan A, Hassanpour K, Aramesh K, Emami-Razavi SH. Attitude toward plagiarism among Iranian medical faculty members. Acta Med Iran 2012;50:778-81.  Back to cited text no. 25
    
26.
Zeng W, Resnik D. Research integrity in China: Problems and prospects. Dev World Bioeth 2010;10:164-71.  Back to cited text no. 26
    
27.
Badea-Voiculescu O. Letter to the editor. Attitude of Romanian medicine students towards plagiarism. Rom J Morphol Embryol 2013;54:907-8.  Back to cited text no. 27
    
28.
Rathore FA, Waqas A, Zia AM, Mavrinac M, Farooq F. Exploring the attitudes of medical faculty members and students in Pakistan towards plagiarism: A cross sectional survey. PeerJ 2015;3:e1031.  Back to cited text no. 28
    
29.
Baždarić K, Bilić-Zulle L, Brumini G, Petrovečki M. Prevalence of plagiarism in recent submissions to the Croatian medical journal. Sci Eng Ethics 2012;18:223-39.  Back to cited text no. 29
    
30.
Titus SL, Wells JA, Rhoades LJ. Repairing research integrity. Nature 2008;453:980-2.  Back to cited text no. 30
    
31.
Pupovac V, Fanelli D. Scientists admitting to plagiarism: A Meta-analysis of surveys. Sci Eng Ethics 2015;21:1331-52.  Back to cited text no. 31
    
32.
Pupovac V, Bilic-Zulle L, Petrovecki M. On academic plagiarism in Europe: An analytical approach based on four studies. Digithumn 2008;10:14-7.  Back to cited text no. 32
    
33.
Alfaro-Toloza P, Mayta-Tristan P, Rodriguez-Morales AJ. Publication misconduct and plagiarism retractions: A Latin American perspective. Curr Med Res Opin 2013;29:99-100.  Back to cited text no. 33
    
34.
Butler D. Plagiarism scandal grows in Iran. Nature 2009;462:704-5.  Back to cited text no. 34
    
35.
Cameron C, Zhao H, McHugh MK. Perspective: Publication ethics and the emerging scientific workforce: Understanding “plagiarism” in a global context. Acad Med 2012;87:51-4.  Back to cited text no. 35
    
36.
Ana J, Koehlmoos T, Smith R, Yan LL. Research misconduct in low – And middle-income countries. PLoS Med 2013;10:e1001315.  Back to cited text no. 36
    
37.
Mavrinac M, Brumini G, Bilić-Zulle L, Petrovecki M. Construction and validation of attitudes toward plagiarism questionnaire. Croat Med J 2010;51:195-201.  Back to cited text no. 37
    
38.
Howard SJ, Ehrich JF, Walton R. Measuring students' perceptions of plagiarism: Modification and Rasch validation of a plagiarism attitude scale. J Appl Meas 2014;15:372-93.  Back to cited text no. 38
    
39.
Pupovac V, Bilic-Zulle L, Mavrinac M, Petrovecki M. Attitudes toward plagiarism among pharmacy and medical biochemistry students-cross-sectional survey study. Biochem Med 2010;20:307-13.  Back to cited text no. 39
    
40.
Ghajarzadeh M, Hassanpour K, Fereshtehnejad SM, Jamali A, Nedjat S, Aramesh K, et al. Attitude towards plagiarism among Iranian medical students. J Med Ethics 2013;39:249.  Back to cited text no. 40
    
41.
Yadav1 P, Kasulkar A. Knowledge and attitude of medical students regarding plagiarism. World J Pharm Med Res 2017;3:181-4.  Back to cited text no. 41
    
42.
Sharkey JR, Culp FB. Cyberplagiarism and the library: Issues and solutions. Ref Libr 2005;44:103-16.  Back to cited text no. 42
    
43.
Cross M. Policing plagiarism. BMJ 2007;335:963-4.  Back to cited text no. 43
    
44.
Okonta P, Rossouw T. Prevalence of scientific misconduct among a group of researchers in Nigeria. Dev World Bioeth 2013;13:149-57.  Back to cited text no. 44
    
45.
Rohwer A, Wager E, Young T, Garner P. Plagiarism in research: A survey of African medical journals. BMJ Open 2018;8:e024777.   Back to cited text no. 45
    
46.
Qiu J. Publish or perish in China. Nature 2010;463:142-3.  Back to cited text no. 46
    
47.
Neelakanta S. In India, Plagiarism is on the Rise-Publish, Perish or Pilfer? Global Post; 18 October, 2009. Available from: http://www. globalpost.com/print/3695607. [Last accessed on 2018 Jan 02].  Back to cited text no. 47
    
48.
Punch, UNICAL Dismisses 5, Demotes 10 Lecturers for Academic Fraud. The Punch; 15 March, 2013. Available from: http://www.punchng.com/news/unical-dismisses-5-demotes-10-lecturers-for-academicfraud/. [Last retrieved on 2014 Aug 03].  Back to cited text no. 48
    
49.
Kayode-Adedeji D. Nigeria's Agriculture University, FUNAAB, Sacks Professor, Two other Lecturers for Plagiarism. Premium Times; 21 May, 2013. Available from: http://www. Premiumtimesng.com/news/135438-nigerias-agriculture-university-funaab-sacksprofessor-two-other-lecturers-forplagiarism.html#sthash.waohzRtM.dpuf. [Last retrieved on 2014 Aug 03].  Back to cited text no. 49
    
50.
Howard RM. Don't police plagiarism: just teach! Educ Dig 2002;67:46-50.  Back to cited text no. 50
    
51.
Sutherland-Smity W. Retribution, deterrence and reform: The dilemmas of plagiarism management in universities. J High Educ Policy Manag 2010;32:5-16.  Back to cited text no. 51
    
52.
Braumoeller BF, Gaines BJ. Actions do speak louder than words: Deterring plagiarism with the use of plagiarismdetection software. PS Polit Sci Polit 2001;34:835-9.  Back to cited text no. 52
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]



 

Top
 
 
  Search
 
Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

 
  In this article
Abstract
Introduction
Materials and Me...
Results
Discussion
Conclusion
References
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed392    
    Printed44    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded80    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal


[TAG2]
[TAG3]
[TAG4]