Can my students refuse permission to have their personal details and assignments processed by the Turnitin service?
The Data Protection Act 1998 sets out when and how personal data can be ‘processed’. For any institution to validly process personal data, it must comply with one of the two conditions in Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998. These are:
- Condition 1: “The data subject has given his consent to the processing.”
- Condition 6: “(1) The processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where the processing is unwarranted in any particular case by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of the data subject.”
The University of Kent will ask for the student’s consent during the registration process at the start of the year. If consent is given, condition 1 is fulfilled. Without consent, the institution may use condition 6 to process the data, on the basis that quality of marking and detection of academic deceit are legitimate interests of the institution. (Answer courtesy of JISC Legal Service).
I have received a 'TurnitinUK Paper Request' for one of my student's papers. How should I respond?
Turnitin matches a student's submitted work to a number of electronic sources including other student papers held on the Turnitin database. If a lecturer finds a match between two student papers, it is possible to request the matched paper from the other lecturer. In this case, Turnitin generates an email with 'TurnitinUK Paper Request' in the subject line. If you receive one of these emails, you will be able to see both the name of the requesting lecturer and their institution.
- If the request has originated from within the University of Kent, it is recommended that you respond appropriately to the request and forward the information.
- If the lecturer is external to the University, you can either forward the paper as requested or write to the lecturer requesting a copy of their student's matched paper.
- It is strongly recommended that you respond to these requests rather than ignore the email. Turnitin relies on the co-operation of staff to investigate possible cases of plagiarism.
- Permission to pass on student paper details is allowed under Condition 6 (1) of the Data Protection Act (1998): “The processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where the processing is unwarranted in any particular case by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of the data subject.”
One of my students has missed the assignment cut off date for an assignment. What should I do?
If you allow late submission of work, you have two options to receive the assignment.
- You can accept an electronic and paper copy delivered to you, and as an instructor, you can upload the assignment to the Turnitin service yourself (see ‘Turnitin for busy academics’).
- If you want to extend a deadline for an assignment, you can modify the assignment ‘due date’. Note that the default options on submitting an assignment DO allow submissions after the ‘due date’ up to the ‘post date’ (the date that results in Grademark become visible to students). NB: Results may become available to students before the ‘post date’ has passed unless steps are taken to hide student grades in Moodle. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I suspect plagiarism, but nothing has been matched by Turnitin. What should I do?
The determination of plagiarism relies on academic judgement, not on the percentage shown in the Turnitin originality report. If you suspect plagiarism, you may wish to further check the work using an Internet search engine such as Google, as this will include some web material which is not covered by Turnitin (eg subscription or password-protected sites).
Turnitin will not replace your departmental guidelines on academic misconduct, and you should continue to follow departmental and university policies currently in place to deal with suspected cases of plagiarism. University regulations on dealing with academic misconduct are available at the University policies and procedures page.
My assignment was not set up as a Turnitin assignment. How can I now use Turnitin?