Turnitin (turn it in) is the originality checking software used by FedUni. It is commonly referred to as plagiarism detection software, although this isn’t technically correct.
Turnitin cannot form conclusions about whether plagiarism has occurred, it only returns a similarity percentage and links to those sources where similarity is detected. It is up to yourself or your lecturer to determine if plagiarism has occurred.
A high percentage score does not mean that you have plagiarised, and a low score does not mean that you are safe from having plagiarised. You need to look at the similarity report in detail (see Reviewing a similarity report, below). A high match may indicate frequent use of quotes, discipline specific terminology, or references. A low score may still include a plagiarised concept, such as a paraphrase without the proper attribution. As such, you cannot say that there is a specific percentage score (e.g. 10%) that is either a safe score or unacceptable. Instead, the software can help you identify problematic areas within your text, where the risk of plagiarism is high.
- Shirin has a 2% Turnitin match. Shirin is caught for plagiarism as she used an idea from an academic paper as her own idea, without proper attribution to the source.
- Aki has a 13% match. Aki is doing a science degree, and, for this report, he has used a significant amount of lengthy scientific terminology that has been identified as a match. All ideas have been properly paraphrased and referenced. Aki has not plagiarised in his report.
- Fernanda also has a 13% match. The Turnitin report shows that Fernanda has copy-pasted some ideas from various internet sources, while her references say that it is from various academic journal articles. Fernanda has breached academic integrity in several ways and is caught for plagiarism.
- Alex has a 42% match. Alex has copied and pasted a significant amount of material; however, they have put everything in quotes and attributed appropriately. While Alex has not plagiarised, they are unlikely to get a good score because they have failed to integrate, adapt, and apply external sources to create an argument or to support or contradict their own ideas.
Turnitin assignment upload links are denoted by a red arrow curving around a piece of paper.
Watch this video to see how to upload your work to Turnitin.
Alternatively, follow these steps:
- Log in to Moodle
- Navigate to the course in which your assignment is due.
- Once in the course, navigate to the Assignments link. This is generally under the Assessment tab in the banner at the top of the page.
- Click on the Assignment title.
- Clicking on the assignment link (look for the red arrow icon) will open the Turnitin portal. To add a file click Submit Paper.
- In the upload screen, ensure that you have Submission Type set to File Upload. You must give your submission a title. Use the name of the file you are uploading but be mindful that your lecturer may have specified the format of the assignment title. A Word document (.docx) is the best file format to use. PDF (.pdf) is another format that works if Microsoft Word is unavailable to you.
- Once the file has uploaded, you will get a receipt number from Turnitin to confirm the successful upload. Save this number somewhere. If you receive an error, don’t panic – the line titled Message will give you useful information. The most common issues you will come across are an incorrect file type error (Word and PDF are the best to use) or trying to submit a revision after the close date has passed. Contact your lecturer if you want to submit a revision after the close date.
- Once you have saved the receipt number, click Close in the top right of the screen.
Once you have closed the upload screen, you will be directed back to the Turnitin portal. The information relating to your upload, including the submission title, the date, and the pending similarity report will be visible.
It usually takes 10 to 15 minutes for Turnitin to return the similarity report but it may take longer if the file is large. If you make changes to your assignment and re-upload the file it will incur a 24 hour wait before it returns an updated score.
To review a similarity report, follow these steps:
- Click on the same assignment link you used to upload the file. You will see the similarity report expressed as a percentage with a coloured bar next to it. This bar changes colour from green for low similarity, to red for a high similarity.
- Click on the coloured bar to open the similarity report.
- You will now see your assignment with a sidebar to the right of the page. The sidebar shows you where the matches Turnitin has found come from and also to what percentage they match in relation to the text as a whole.
- Often, Turnitin will find matches to legitimate sources and references. Don’t panic: these can be filtered out. In the Sidebar you will see all of the matches that Turnitin has found. Hovering your mouse over these will show an arrow icon. Click the arrow to expand the details of the similarity match.
To the bottom of the expanded list you will see the Exclude Sources button. Clicking this will enable the checkboxes to the right of the Similarity matches. Click a box to place a tick inside, you can then click the Exclude button. Turnitin will then recalculate the score.
Learning about academic honesty and plagiarism may ease any concerns you have about Turnitin.