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Plagiarism Prevention in Nursing Education

An essential issue in the academic writing world is the use of work developed and presented by other people. While it is not forbidden, as using such material can help build a strong argument, it is critical to give credit to people who have put efforts and time into the initial research. To avoid issues with the educational institution, a student must understand the definition of plagiarism and possible consequences, as well as how to detect it in papers. One of the descriptions of what is considered a plagiarized work can be found in the American Psychological Association Manual. It is described as “the use of another person’s idea, creation, media, or writing without proper citation” (as cited in Bristol, 2011, p.146). Apart from the ethical issues connected to cheating in academic papers, there is the possibility of sanctions from the institution in case the misdemeanor is detected.

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Students caught using unoriginal material without adequately citing it can face serious consequences. Giving the possibility to understand what can happen is such a case is an essential aspect of reducing plagiarism. Go (2008) observes two cases, one from Ohio University and the other from California Baptist University. In these instances, students were sanctioned for plagiarizing the work they have submitted. In the first case, the student accused of an academic misdemeanor could not proceed with the trip to Greece provided by the University (Go, 2008). The second student was dismissed from her studies because of the accusations (Go, 2008). The author describes in detail the situation with the second student, stating that only a few sentences were used and rephrased in the paper. “Allison Routman says she was expelled for taking three sentence fragments verbatim from Wikipedia and for paraphrasing a movie synopsis from the site” (Go, 2008, para. 2). The student did not consider it to be a severe flaw, that is why when the University professor asked the one who used other people’s ideas to come forward, she did not (Go, 2008). It is important to note that without proper citation even a few phrases are considered plagiarism. If these students were fully aware of what is regarded as a plagiarized content, they would have avoided these issues with their institutions.

Nursing, as a profession, is associated with high ethical standards. Therefore, students who wish to have a career in this field have to understand the importance of this throughout their studies and their professional life. “Nursing specifically, is a profession where standards and ethics are required, and honesty is paramount.” (Smedley, Crawford, & Cloete, 2014, p. 168). Additionally, “nursing practice is guided by the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics” (McCrink, 2010, p. 653). Therefore, the standards that are applied to the profession are fundamental. Plagiarism is an ethical issue. Thus, it should be addressed by the faculties more seriously. While the research conducted by Smedly et al. (2014) found that only a small percentage of students did not perceive plagiarism as a serious misdemeanor, the authors insist that attention needs to be directed at them as it is an essential issue that can cause problems in the future work of such students. Therefore, the question of plagiarism is especially vital in nursing as it is an ethical problem.

Educating oneself on the issue of plagiarism is an essential step of avoiding it in nursing studies. Bristol (2011) argues that it is necessary for faculties to invest in the means of plagiarism awareness and detection for both students and academics. Firstly, Smedley et al. (2014) suggested educational intervention as a way to improve understanding of the issue. The results of the research have proven that those who were given more information on the topic proved to have a better understanding of different aspects of the problem (Smedley et al., 2014). Secondly, using the software to scan the paper and identify the information that was not cited is very helpful, as suggested by Bristol (2011). At the same time, the author admits that the majority of work, performed by those who study nursing is done manually, without inputting the information into the computer (Bristol, 2011). Universities should address this issue as submitting digital files enables the usage of the plagiarism detection software (Bristol, 2011). Additionally, it essential to remember that rephrasing ideas without citing the original author is plagiarism (Go, 200). The consequences of such actions can be severe for a student. Combining the practices of educating students on aspects of plagiarism, submitting papers digitally to enable checking them through specific software, and investing in developing academic’s understanding of how to use digital instruments to detect misdemeanor is essential.

Overall, plagiarism is an important topic that nursing students need to be educated on in particular. A paper is considered plagiarized when it uses ideas from other authors without correctly citing them. High ethical standards of the nursing profession need to be transpired through the academic life of students as the moral aspect of plagiarism is an issue. Therefore, institutions that educate such students need to pay particular attention to the problem. To achieve success and to minimize the effects of the subject within an institution, the faculty should inform students of the definition of plagiarized work and possible consequences. Additionally, submitting all the work digitally to enable the use of plagiarism detection software is essential. Finally, educating academics on the aspects of usage of the digital programs is critical to ensure that nursing students do not plagiarize papers.


Bristol, T.J. (2011). Plagiarism prevention with technology. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 6(3), 146-149. Web.

Go, A. (2008). Two students kicked off semester at sea for plagiarism. Web.

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McCrink, A. (2010). Academic misconduct in nursing students: Behaviors, attitudes, rationalizations, and cultural identity. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(11), 653-659. Web.

Smedley, A., Crawford, T., & Cloete, L. (2015). An intervention aimed at reducing plagiarism in undergraduate nursing students. Nurse Education in Practice, 15(3), 168-173. Web.

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