Nursing studies

Sharing essays: what to do if a friend asks to see your work

Sharing expertise is crucial in nursing, but sharing coursework can have serious consequences

Sharing expertise is crucial in nursing, but sharing your coursework could have serious consequences

Good nursing is often about good teamwork you will hear this many times during your studies, and you will also be asked to demonstrate your ability to work as part of a team in practice and in the university setting.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code i s explicit about the need for nurses to share information, expertise and knowledge, and to collaborate. But sometimes sharing your knowledge needs to be approached more cautiously.

The Code encourages collaboration

One example is if a fellow student asks you to share your written work with them. This request might come from a classmate,

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Sharing expertise is crucial in nursing, but sharing your coursework could have serious consequences

Picture: iStock

Good nursing is often about good teamwork – you will hear this many times during your studies, and you will also be asked to demonstrate your ability to work as part of a team in practice and in the university setting.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code is explicit about the need for nurses to share information, expertise and knowledge, and to collaborate. But sometimes sharing your knowledge needs to be approached more cautiously.

The Code encourages collaboration

One example is if a fellow student asks you to share your written work with them. This request might come from a classmate, a friend or someone you have met on a social media platform.

On one level, it is perfectly reasonable – taking into account the requirement to work in collaboration, it seems reasonable that you might show your work to another student. But before making this decision, you should think about why the request has been made.

If you are sure the person is simply keen to learn from you and has no intention of presenting elements of your work as their own, it is probably fine for you to let them have a look.

But in the absence of certainty, you need to be more cautious, for two very important reasons.

How universities detect plagiarism

First, most students will be aware that antiplagiarism software identifies work that has been copied from published sources. But did you know that these tools can also identify similarities between work submitted by students at separate institutions?

This means that if you share your essay with someone and they subsequently present chunks of it as their own, you could become involved in a plagiarism case. While you might be able to prove that you were the original author, this situation has the potential to be stressful and embarrassing.

If it can be proved that you knew your work would be copied, you may face a disciplinary panel and/or a fitness to practise panel at your university, where you will be asked to account for your decision to share your work.

If you are a postregistration student, you could even be reported to the NMC.

Second, as well as emphasising the importance of working cooperatively, the NMC code clearly states that we are expected to prioritise people, practise effectively, preserve safety and promote trust.

Each of these requirements may be compromised if you share your work with someone who then passes it off as their own.

Sharing academic work could compromise learning

Imagine, for example, that you agree to let your friend at another university see your essay on recognising the signs of acute physical deterioration. They copy the essay and submit it as their own work and they receive an A grade without any effort or learning on their part.

Two weeks later, while on placement, they fail to recognise the early signs of deterioration in a patient and valuable time is lost in providing essential and potentially life-saving care.

In this case, what started out as a helping hand for a friend ends up breaching all four pillars of the code – your actions have, albeit indirectly, led to ineffective practice that has compromised patient safety.

The needs of your friend have been prioritised over the needs of a patient and, as a result, those affected by the situation could suffer a loss of trust in those who provide care.

But while you should be cautious about sharing your written work, there are other ways you can support your peers and meet the professional expectation of sharing knowledge and skills.

How you can help other students

Speak to your tutor If you are unsure about how to respond to a request for help from a fellow student, get some advice from your personal tutor or course leader

Get together Students usually feel anxious or unsure about the same things when it comes to putting an essay or university project together. Getting together in small (socially distanced) groups or online to discuss this with your peers can help. Collaborative learning is a well-established strategy for understanding and enhancing knowledge

Signpost to where they can get help Every university has an academic support service that can assist students with their work. The best thing to do is to direct them to this, or to encourage them to seek support from their lecturers

Proofread close friends’ work This may not work for everyone, but it can help to identify grammar and spelling errors that may have been overlooked. This works well with friends in your cohort who you can trust

Share resources Good books or journal articles are the bedrock of a good assessment. Sharing resources you have found useful could be helpful to your peers

Talk to each other Instead of sharing your work, offer to talk about how you tackled it and the main points you addressed


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