Academic Dishonesty Among Pharmacy Students


  • Hei Wan Wendy NG School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK
  • Graham Davies School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK
  • Ian Bates School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AX, UK
  • Monica Avellone School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AX, UK


Academic dishonesty, Students, Pharmacy education, Royal pharmaceutical society


In previous studies, academic dishonesty was found to be common among pharmacy students. The aim of this investigation was to find the reasons for dishonest behaviour among pharmacy students. Twelve semi- structured interviews were carried out with first and fourth year pharmacy students, chosen to represent a broad spectrum of views about academic dishonesty. Five principle themes were identified as the motivations for student academic dishonesty: institutional environment, study skills, assessment employed, personal qualities and course specific factors.

The results show that the motivational themes for dishonesty varied between the first year students and the fourth year students. The first year students interviewed, when compared to the fourth year students, were generally more uncertain about the definition of academic dishonestly, and consequently the behaviours associated with it. The first year students also appeared to possess poorer study skills and complained that the university failed to provide enough academic support.

In contrast, the fourth year students interviewed were more sophisticated in their approach to academic dishonesty. They frequently mentioned pressure and stress as motivational factors leading some students to resort to dishonest behaviours. They were also more aware of the opportunities to engage in dishonest academic behaviour than first year students and generally believed engaging in dishonest behaviour was an institutional culture.

All the students interviewed stated that engaging in dishonest behaviour could be motivated by peer pressure, fulfilling their social and esteem needs. Dishonest behaviour could be a way to increase social acceptance and to fit into a group. Students from both years were found to be goal orientated with poor study skills appearing to motivate dishonest behaviour.


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Research Article