Medical Students’ Acquaintance with Core Concepts, Institutions and Guidelines on Good Scientific Practice: A Pre- and Post-questionnaire Survey

Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (3):1827-1845 (2020)
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Abstract

German medical students are not sufficiently introduced to the ethical principles and pitfalls of scientific work. Therefore, a compulsory course on good scientific practice has been developed and implemented into the curriculum of medical students, with the goal to foster scientific integrity and prevent scientific misconduct. Students’ knowledge and attitudes towards GSP were evaluated by a pre-post-teaching questionnaire survey. Most participants initially had startling knowledge gaps in the field. Moreover, they were not acquainted with core institutions on GSP, the office of ombudsperson and the nationally binding guidelines on GSP. The pre-post-teaching comparison showed statistically significant improvement in all areas tested; moreover, after the course participants confided more trust in GSP institutions. Applying ethical rules into practice can be challenging; therefore, students need to learn to work independently with guidelines on GSP and should be introduced to institutions providing further guidance. As our study has shown, students are very willing to pursue a scientific career based on integrity and honesty, however, they lack the knowledge how to do so. In light of our results, we therefore recommend to integrate courses on GSP already at an early time into the mandatory curriculum of medical students.

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