What is Turnitin?
- Turnitin is the Turnitin Originality Checking Software supplied under license from iParadigms Europe.
How does it work?
- Turnitin is a text-matching software which provides a report on whether a student's work is original (no matching text) or unoriginal. Turnitin does not detect plagiarism: it is one tool to assist staff in detecting and deterring plagiarism.
- Submitted work is matched against a database of previously submitted work from every institution which subscribes to Turnitin, including international institutions; current and archived internet pages and databases of journals and periodicals.
- Each instance of matching text should be examined individually for full and correct referencing.
Guidance for deterring plagiarism and examples of good practice for implementing Turnitin are available at the Guide for Staff. NB: It is NOT recommended that students have more than one opportunity to submit work after the initial introductory session/s on Turnitin, unless Turnitin is being used in conjunction with formative draft writing.
Guidance on using the Turnitin and Moodle software is available at the E-Learning website.
Guidelines for Using Turnitin
The following Guidelines (approved by LTB, 18 October 2006) have been drawn up with particular consideration being given to the following objectives:
- to ensure student equity
- to ensure that students have a clear understanding of the issues and procedures involved
- to promote academic integrity
- to encourage the development of good academic practice
- to support the development of good academic scholarship and learning
- to avoid a punitive, policing approach to the improvement of student academic writing
- Module Preparation
- if you intend to use Turnitin, ensure all student information is updated accordingly
- your module(s) documentation is valid, if not, seek revalidation
- ensure you are familiar with the Turnitin service and University academic misconduct procedures.
- Student Induction
- notify your students that you intend to use the Turnitin service
- explain to students what “Turnitin” is, how it operates and why you wish to use it
- ensure your students understand that Turnitin will not be used at an individual, per student, basis
- ensure that students are aware of their rights under the Data Protection Act and IPR
- ensure that your students are familiar with University academic misconduct procedures.
- Using the Turnitin Service
- do not use the Turnitin originality report or its percentage value as an indicator of plagiarism; use your academic judgement when determining an incidence of plagiarism after careful consideration of the originality report and sources of matched text
- do not use Turnitin in isolation. Turnitin is one tool to use in the deterrence and detection of plagiarism. It should be used in conjunction with a holistic approach to plagiarism as per LTB paper 30/2006
- do not use Turnitin as a random sampling tool; Turnitin should be used on a per assignment/module basis: assignments should not be selected on a per student basis – the whole cohort should be put through the service if plagiarism is suspected even if only in one paper
- ensure that your students have at least one formative experience with Turnitin before using the service on summative assignments.
- Dealing with Suspected Plagiarism
- Ensure you follow University academic misconduct procedures as per General Regulation V.3 Academic Discipline, in Annex 10, Academic Discipline: Procedures. See Academic Policies
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Guidance for Staff
Before you start
If you intend to use Turnitin, you need to consider:
- School guidelines and procedures for online submission.
- Archiving of work stored electronically.
- University Guidelines on using Turnitin.
- Adequately preparing your students for Turnitin.
If you are using Turnitin as part of School policy, some of the advanced options may be defined by the policy. Check with your School Administrator for details. See the Elearning website for detailed guides on using Turnitin in Moodle.
Using and Interpreting the Originality Report
You may decide to use Turnitin to help detect and deter plagiarism using the Originality Report. This provides a summary of how much text is 'original' i.e. not matched to other sources, and how much is 'non-original' i.e. matched to other text. It is not a plagiarism report: it provides a summary of the instances of matching text. It may identify common words such as 'this,' 'on the one hand' etc., and it does not separate correctly cited sources from plagiarised text. More information on interpreting the originality report.
A low percentage indicates a low incidence of matching text. A low percentage may mask academic misconduct if:
- the copied text is a key sentence from a longer work (eg research findings, key ideas or conclusions)
- paraphrased or summarised text, including ideas have been used without acknowledgement
A high percentage of matching text may indicate:
- poor academic writing
- an overuse of quotations
A 100% match may indicate the accidental resubmission of work, incorrect settings in the assignment settings (check preferences) or outright copied or purchased work.
Academic judgement and determining plagiarism
So what percentage matters? It is important to use academic judgement on each individual piece of work. Ask yourself:
- Is this work at the standard I expect from this student?
- Has the student attempted to cite source material?
- Are there instances of sudden changes in voice, style, formatting or argument?
- Is the matching text from a genuine academic source or from poor internet research?
- Are the sources in the course reference list?
- Is this poor academic writing or academic misconduct?
The Originality Report is an aid for you to use in conjunction with the other methods to detect and deter plagiarism. It is not recommended that you use Turnitin alone to determine if a student has plagiarised part or all of an assessed piece of work.
Guidance for Students
How do I use Turnitin?
- The University of Kent has introduced Turnitin to assist in the detection and deterrence of plagiarism. You may be required to submit your assessment work to the Turnitin service. This will involve submitting your work electronically via your Moodle module.
- Your lecturer will give you information on how to use Turnitin and Moodle in your modules.