Not sure what plagiarism is or how to avoid it? Find out more about what you can do and how to use Turnitin’s text comparison software.

What is Plagiarism?

The New Oxford Shorter English Dictionary defines plagiarism as «taking and using as one’s own… the thoughts, writings, and inventions of another.» This can occur by copying, summarizing, or paraphrasing someone else’s work or ideas, without acknowledging the original author and passing off the material as if it were your own independent work. Often this can be accidental (for example, if you have forgotten to reference something), but it can also be done deliberately.

Universities take plagiarism very seriously, which is considered an academic irregularity. There are different penalties that can be applied to plagiarism violations. The Student Handbook has a section on Academic Irregularities, which outlines the penalties and states that plagiarism includes:

The incorporation of material derived from the work (published or unpublished) of another, by unrecognized quotation, paraphrased imitation or other device in any work submitted for progression to or for the completion of an award, which in some way suggests that it is the student’s own original work. Such work may include printed material in textbooks, magazines, and electronically accessible material, for example, on web pages.»

Examples of Plagiarism

Some examples of plagiarism are:

The inclusion in a candidate’s work of material from someone else’s work without the use of quotation marks and full acknowledgment of the source;

The summary of someone else’s work by simply changing the words or altering the order of presentation, without full recognition;

Self-plagiarism: Students are not allowed to reuse papers they have previously submitted, without due reference and recognition in the current assessment being submitted.

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is an online tool that allows staff and students to check if the text matches their database of documents, articles, and web pages. When a coursework is submitted to Turnitin, an originality report is generated that highlights word patterns that match those of other documents.

The Turnitin Plagiarism Framework was introduced in the spring of 2020. For most tasks that only need to be verified by Plagiarism, this new Framework has easier setup, easier editing, a better connection to other ICON features, and fewer problems with students uploading papers. However, the new integration doesn’t include turnitin’s feedback study or Peermark, so it’s important to decide which tool to use.

Turnitin converts the student’s work into plain text and excludes from the comparison any material cited. The rest of the text is then compared for exact matches with the existing source material. Turnitin compares the content of the submitted document with two repositories: a student submission repository that is private to the university and a publicly accessible and academically oriented repository of Internet resources.

The user is presented with a final report highlighting the different levels or quantities of match per shipment. There is an overall score, as well as a side-by-side comparison of the text and matching fonts.

Features of Turnitin

TurnItIn is a plagiarism detection tool that instructors can use in Canvas writing tasks.

To determine the degree of originality of a student’s work, TurnItIn checks the works and their sources with a database of source material.

This academic integrity tool helps prevent plagiarism by detecting non-original content. When an essay is uploaded to TurnItIn, an originality report is generated that automatically identifies and highlights phrases in the text that are not properly cited.

It is important for students to understand academic integrity and correctly cite quotes and ideas from other authors. In addition to acting as a deterrent to plagiarism, TurnItIn also has features designed to help educate students about plagiarism and the importance of correctly attributing any borrowed content.

Turnitin Features

TurnItIn fulfills two main functions:

Identify non-original content by detecting possible plagiarism problems.

Manage possible academic faults by highlighting the similarities with a repository of Internet content, academics and student work.

Limitations for similarity reporting

Turnitin will not accept the following to generate similarity reports:

Password-protected files

Microsoft® Works Files (.wps)

.docm files with Microsoft Word 2007 macros

OpenOffice text files (.odt) created and downloaded from Google Docs online

Document files (.doc) created with OpenOffice, as they are not 100% equivalent to Microsoft Word

Apple Pages

Worksheets created outside of Microsoft Excel (that is, .ods)

Text with visual effects

Student assignments submitted to Turnitin

Turnitin cannot identify incidents of plagiarism. Nor can it prove that a student has not plagiarized.

You can only create originality reports that show the degree of similarity between a submitted work and the content sources in the database.

Turnitin uses a matching algorithm to find strings of words within tasks that are identical to those in its repository. This means that human judgment, based on various factors and considerations, is required to determine whether a case of plagiarism has occurred.

TurnItIn does two main things for writing jobs:

When a student submits a file to the D2L assignment tool (formerly D2L’s Dropbox) an originality score is generated. This score indicates what percentage of the student’s writing is similar to the writing that already exists in the world.

An instructor can provide feedback using TurnItIn’s new Feedback Studio. It is similar to the feedback functions of D2L, but with the added advantage of being able to comment directly on the student’s work.

Match Summary

The match summary shows the original sources cited or referenced in the work. Each source is assigned a percentage to show the amount of content that was used in the submission. There are two options in this feature:

The match summary shows only the most referenced source in the submission. Clicking on the font takes you to the second option;

All Sources displays all matches made in the Turnitin database. The percentages shown vary by source in descending order. It is important to note that smaller percentages can be turned off in the Turnitin assignment settings. Turnitin will by default check the entire document for references of only two words; this can be turned on or off under Exclude small matches? in the Turnitin task settings.

Originality Report

Originality reports are presented in the following ranges:

Blue: > = 0 and < 20%

Green: > = 20 and < 40%

Yellow: > = 40 and < 60%

Orange: > = 60 and < 80% > = 60 and < 80%

Red: > = 80 and < = 100%: > = 80 and < = 100%

Many instructors use 15% as a baseline and choose to review papers that exceed this percentage more thoroughly.

Turnitin provides a direct link to internet sources and publications within the originality report so that you can make a comparison yourself.

Turnitin Database

Turnitin maintains a comparison database that consists of:

Current and archived web content that is publicly available

Books, newspapers and magazines (through their partnerships with publishers, library databases, digital reference collections and subscription publications)

Our specialists wait for you to contact them through the quote form or direct chat. We also have confidential communication channels such as WhatsApp and Messenger. And if you want to be aware of our innovative services and the different advantages of hiring us, follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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You may also be interested in: Mendeley: Software for the Management of Bibliographic Citations

Sources Consulted

Turnitin Text Comparison Software

Turnitin text comparison software. Photo: Unsplash. Credits: Sean Kong

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