Cheating by pharmacy students: Perceptions, prevalenceand comparisons


  • R Harris Pharmacy Practice Division, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth,Portsmouth, UK
  • Paul Rutter Pharmacy Practice Division, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK


Pharmacy education, students, dishonesty, cheating


Dishonesty has been part of the educational system for as long as students have been educated. The extent to which this happens varies between institution and course studied. Recent work has shown the prevalence of dishonesty by pharmacy students to be high. This study aimed to add to this body of evidence and determine what students believed the penalty should be if caught. Staff and undergraduate students at Portsmouth University, United Kingdom were asked to complete a survey consisting of 16 scenarios that reflected dishonest activity. Results revealed 53% of students had participated in dishonest behaviour, with students more likely to cheat in coursework than written examinations. Students suggested relatively lenient punishment for acts of dishonesty, although fourth year students felt cheating in examinations warranted removal from the course.  This was in line with academic views.  Portsmouth students also exhibited lower levels of dishonest behaviour compared to previously published rates. 


Aggarwal, R., Bates, I., Davies, J. G., & Khan, I. (2002). A study of academic dishonesty among students at two pharmacy schools. Pharmaceutical Journal,269, 529 –533.

Anderson, R. E., & Obenshain, S. S. (1994). Cheating by students: Findings, reflections, and remedies. Academic Medicine,69,323 –332.

Baldwin, D. C. Jr., Daugherty, S. R., Rowley, B. D., &Schwarz, M. R. (1996). Cheating in medical schools: A survey of second-year students at 31 schools. Academic Medicine,71,267 –273.

Baumeister, R. F., & Scher, S. J. (1988). Self-defeating behaviour patterns among normal individuals: Review and analysis of common self-destructive tendencies. Psychological Bulletin, 104, 3 –22.

Bradshaw, M. J., & Lowenstein, A. J. (1990). Perspectives on academic dishonesty. Nurse Educator,15, 10–15.

Brown, D. L. (2002). Cheating must be OK-everybody does it! Nurse Educator,27,6–8.

Fosbinder, D. (1991). Cheating and plagiarism. Nurse Educator,16,5.

Franklyn-Stokes, A., & Newstead, S. E. (1995). Undergraduate cheating: Who does what and why. Studies in Higher Education,20, 159 –172.

Gaberson, K. B. (1997). Academic dishonesty among nursing students. Nursing Forum,32, 14–20.GPHE 102586—15/12/2004—AYYAPPAN—130144Student dishonesty7

Hetherington, E. M., & Feldmen, S. E. (1964). College cheating as a function of subject and situational variables. Journal of Educational Psychology,55, 212– 218.

McCabe, D. L., & Tate, E. F. (1999). National effort to stem cheating epidemic begins this month. The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behaviour Letter,15,1.

McCabe, D. L., & Trevino, L. K. (1996). What we know about cheating in college.Change,28, 28–33.

Ng, H. W. W., Davies, G., Bates, I., & Avellone, M. (2003). Academic dishonesty among pharmacy students. Pharmacy Education,3, 261–269.

Norton, L. S., Tilley, A. J., Newstead, S. E., & Franklyn-Stokes, A.(2001). The pressure of assessm ent in undergraduate courses and their effect on student behaviours. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education,26, 269– 284.

Odom, J. G. (1997). Academic and clinical ramifications of integrity and cheating. Journal of Dental Education,55,272 –275.

Rennie, S. C., & Crosby, S. C. (2001). Are tomorrow’s doctors honest? Questionnaire study exploring medical students attitudes and reported behaviour on academic misconduct. British Medical Journal,322, 274– 275.

Sierles, F., Hendrick, I., & Circle, S. (1980). Cheating in medical school. Journal of Medical Education,55, 124 –125.

Thorpe, M. F., Pittenger, D. J., & Reed, B. D. (1999). Cheating the researcher: A study of relation between personality measures and self-reported cheating. College Student Journal,33, 49.

Uhlig, G. E., & Howes, B. (1967). Attitude toward cheating and opportunistic behaviour. Journal of Educational Research,60,411 –412.



Research Article