Plagiarism occurs in residency personal statements, with a higher incidence among graduates of non-US medical schools, according to a report published in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia Case Reports.
According to the report, past reports of plagiarism in personal statements by medical students applying to residency programs has led to advice to students to avoid plagiarism and how the act could be detected by special software.
For the report, researchers screened personal statements of 467 anesthesiology residency applicants from 2013-2014 using a software called Viper Plagiarism Scanner, and studied them for plagiarism. The researchers found that when quotes and commonly used phrases, 82 personal statements included content that was not original, defined by having 8 or more consecutive words. In a similar, but older study from 2007, researchers also found evidence of plagiarism in residency application essays, but pointed out that it was more common in international applicants. However, the report did state that plagiarism was indeed found in essays by applications to various types of specialty programs, from all medical school types, and surprisingly even among individuals with academic honors. Specifically, evidence of plagiarism was found in 5.2% of essays. Among the characteristics linked with the prevalence of plagiarism included in medical school location, previous residency or fellowship, lack of research experience, volunteer experience, or publications, a low USMLE Step 1 score, and non-membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
Both studies highlight the existing evidence that medical students are still getting caught up with trying to pass off someone else’s work as their own to further their medical career. Studies and reports such as these should certainly act as a deterrent for any student getting ready for medical school. Studies like these are proof that plagiarism does indeed happen and the potential consequences of such a desperate act. Pre-meds considering careers in medicine should know that while getting into medical school and ultimately residency programs is hard, taking the honest route is always the best way to go.