Self-reported attitudes and behaviors of general surgery residents about ethical academic practices in test taking

Valerie P. Grignol, Alyssa Gans, Branyan A. Booth, Ronald Markert, Paula M. Termuhlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: A correlation exists between people who engage in academic dishonesty as students and unethical behaviors later as professionals. Academic dishonesty has been assessed among medical students, but not among general surgery residents. We sought to describe the attitudes of general surgery residents with regard to ethical practices in test taking. Methods: A survey with 4 scenarios describing activities related to examination taking that may or may not be considered unethical was administered. Participants were asked about participation in the activities - either personally or any knowledge of others - and whether the activities were unethical. Results: Fifty-seven of 62 residents (92%) participated. For each scenario, >70% indicated that neither they nor anyone else they knew had participated in the activities. Behaviors deemed unethical included memorizing or using memorized questions to prepare for future tests (52%), selling questions for financial gain (90%), and purchasing previously used questions (57%). No difference in attitudes was seen among incoming interns, junior-level (postgraduate year [PGY]1-3), or senior-level (PGY4-6) residents. Conclusion: Overall, general surgery residents indicated that they had not participated in activities they felt to be unethical. Defining what is unethical was less clear. This represents an area for further education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-180
Number of pages3
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


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