Originality Checking/Turnitin

This section outlines the university’s expectations and processes in relation to the use of an originality checking tool for text-based submissions.  It also provide examples of good practice and resources for staff.

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Turnitin - online tool

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Turnitin is a text-matching service integrated with Blackboard and provides feedback about the originality of student work. Originality reports show the percentage of a submission that matches other sources, including the internet, a range of electronic journals and its database of existing student papers from subscribing UK institutions.

Use of originality checking can maximise the potential for students to improve their academic writing and referencing skills whilst enabling academics to objectively assess the proportion of a student’s work that is original and identify possible plagiarism and collusion.

Turnitin examines the originality of student work submitted in a variety of formats including Word, PDF, Excel or PowerPoint (a full list of formats can be found in the Formats/Reports section below).

Text matching of summative work

Where text-matching of summative work is required to support a judgement on the originality of the work, staff may choose to either:

Option 1. Require students to submit only to the Blackboard Assignment submission point for the task or subtask. Students will not be responsible for uploading work to Turnitin. After submission, staff will upload all, suspect pieces or a banded sample of work using a Turnitin Assignment which MUST NOT be visible to students. Tools to support the batch download/upload of student work from Blackboard to Turnitin are available. Or:

Option 2. Require students to submit to the Blackboard Assignment submission point for the task or subtask AND upload the same work to Turnitin. Where used for the upload of summative work, Turnitin MUST mirror the settings for Blackboard Assignment submission points (i.e. to allow unlimited submissions until the deadline and be available 7 calendar weeks or 49 days after the deadline). However it must be clearly distinguished that is it not the official submission point.

Faculty positions for text-matching of summative work are shown below:

  • ACES: Option 2
  • DS: Option 1 (with support where required by the faculty Helpdesk for uploading of submissions from Blackboard to Turnitin)
  • HWB: Option 1
  • SBS: Option 2

Where it is the responsibility of the student to upload work to Turnitin as well as submit to the Blackboard Assignment submission point, students MUST be informed:

  • Whether they have a single or unlimited opportunity to upload work
  • When originality reports will be generated
  • Where there is an unlimited opportunity to upload work to Turnitin, after the fourth originality report is generated subsequent reports can take 24 hours to generate

A single Turnitin Assignment may be used to provide both the final summative originality report for staff as well as the formative opportunity for students. In this situation, it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that they allow sufficient time between uploading formative drafts of their work and the deadline for final submission via Blackboard to enable an originality report to generate and an opportunity for them to make any changes to their final work.

Text-matching – formative opportunity

Where Turnitin will be used to support the judgement on the originality of summative work, students MUST be offered a formative opportunity to upload draft work to Turnitin and make use of their originality report prior to submission of their final work. Guidance is available in Assessment4Students in understanding Turnitin originality reports.

Where used for the upload of formative work, Turnitin should include the word(s) ‘draft’ or ‘NOT final’ in the name, and must not contain any reference to submit or submission; the use of the term ‘formative’ alone may not be clearly understood by students.

Further detailed guidance on the different approaches for the use of summative and formative text-matching can be seen in the recommended process for originality checking section

Turnitin cannot:

  • detect matches from books, non-digitised texts or other printed material
  • search student work submitted outside the UK
  • search password-protected essay banks
  • detect work which is plagiarised by translation from a non-English source
  • search all electronic journals
  • detect equations, photographs and images
  • detect computer programming code
  • detect ideas and spoken word

Formats/reports

Formats for Digital Text Based Submissions

  • Microsoft Word (DOC and DOCX)
  • Corel WordPerfect
  • HTML
  • Adobe PostScript
  • Plain text (TXT)
  • Rich Text Format (RTF)
  • Portable Document Format (PDF)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX, and PPS)
  • Microsoft Excel (XLS and XLSX)
  • Hangul (HWP)
  • PebblePad

Originality Reports – a typical assignment submission made via text matching software generates an Originality Report. The Originality Report is the result of a comparison of the submitted text against potentially billions of pages of active and archived internet information, a repository of works previously submitted to the text matching software, and a repository of tens of thousands of periodicals, journals, & publications. Originality Reports provide a summary of matching or highly similar text found in a submitted paper.  Students should be educated that it is not their goal to get zero per cent matching in their work, but use the report as a tool to develop their academic writing and referencing skills.

Academic staff will be expected to review originality reports and raise any concerns with the Module Leader. If appropriate, the procedures outlined in Academic Conduct Regulations will then be followed.

The main value lies in its use as a formative educational tool to help raise awareness and educate students about plagiarism, and to provide a source of formative feedback on their writing; in addition to providing a formal evidence of potential plagiarism and/or collusion if appropriate.

Originality checking good practice - uses of Turnitin

The formative use of originality checking has been shown to enable students to develop their academic writing and referencing skills and reduce the number of incidents of plagiarism in summative work.

 

Example ways for using Turnitin formatively with students

  • Use anonymised originality reports to prompt discussion in class or tutorials around academic writing and plagiarism
  • Encourage students to use their originality reports as feedback on their writing by examining text in their work that the text-matching service has identified as coming from a source in its database and to look at how that section of text has been referenced, providing an opportunity for students to rectify by correctly paraphrasing, quoting, citing and referencing the source
  • Develop an awareness in students that the text-matching service will only match against online sources, and that they need to ensure that ideas or information taken from books or journals need to be referenced in the same way
  • Use originality reports to identify at-risk students and provide remedial action by inviting individual students to discuss their work and provide guidance with no action taken as a result.

 

Recommended process for originality checking

A choice of two text-matching methods using Turnitin will be available to staff, each ensuring there is clear distinction between formal submission of work via Blackboard for assessment and uploading to Turnitin for text-matching.

Option 1 – students will submit only to the formal Blackboard assignment submission point Students will not be required to upload their final work to Turnitin for text-matching. If an originality report is required, staff will be responsible for batch uploading all work, suspect pieces, or a banded sample of work to Turnitin after submission to support marking. Batch tools are available to support this.

Option 2 – students will submit to the formal Blackboard assignment submission point and be asked to upload their final work to Turnitin where staff require an originality report to support a judgement on the originality of the work.

In either option where Turnitin is to be used to support marking of work, students must be offered a formative opportunity to upload to Turnitin and make use of their originality report prior to submission of their final work to Blackboard (in the case of option 2 a single Turnitin link may provide both the formative opportunity and the originality report for staff).

Where students are given a formative opportunity and/or it is their responsibility to upload work to Turnitin, they must be told:

  • Whether they have a single or unlimited opportunity to submit work to Turnitin
  • When originality reports will be generated (i.e. after each submission attempt, or on the due date only)
  • Whether or not they will see the originality report for the final summative submission
  • Where they have an unlimited opportunity to upload work to Turnitin, after the fourth originality report is generated subsequent reports can take 24 hours to generate
  • How to interpret, or where to go for support in understanding, their originality report

Option 1

Recommendations:

  • The formative Turnitin upload point seen by students must be named in a way that clearly distinguishes it from the summative Blackboard submission point (e.g. includes the word ‘draft’ or ‘NOT final’ in the name, and must not contain any reference to submit or submission; the use of the term ‘formative’ alone may not be clearly understood by students).
  • The formative Turnitin upload point should be set to Submit papers to: no repository. This is critical where student papers will be uploaded anonymously, rather than associated with enrolled students prior to submission. By not storing drafts of student work in the standard paper repository, there will be no inadvertent matching of a student’s final summative submission with their original draft resulting in an inflated originality score.
  • A separate Turnitin upload point for text-matching the final submitted work is created distinct from the formative upload opportunity. To avoid any confusion on part of students submitting summative work, the final text-matching Turnitin upload point must not be seen or be accessible by students. As Turnitin upload points cannot be hidden from students in the same way as Blackboard Assignments, it should be created within a hidden folder and the associated Grade Centre column subsequently hidden.
  • Students should include in the filename their student id and student name before submitting to the summative Blackboard Assignment submission point – this will assist with identifying student files during either the upload process or when reviewing originality reports.
  • The use of the package file (of student papers) for plagiarism detection submissions created by the Marks and Feedback (a.k.a. Batch upload) Tool is preferable to using a package file (of student papers) created by the Assignment File Download option in Grade Centre. It automatically pre-fixes filenames with the student code (supporting the association of students and their work where files are uploaded anonymously) and also allows download by student groups (where they have been set up to delegate work to each marker).
  • Step-by-step instructions (to be published on TEL Help) covering the bulk upload to Turnitin can be found in the section below ‘How do I bulk upload student papers submitted from Blackboard to Turnitin?’ It is important to note that this process will cover the majority of scenarios where large volumes of student papers are submitted in a single upload. There may be scenarios where it is not necessary to create package files of student papers, e.g. when uploading papers for a small number of students with approved extensions it may be more effective to upload these to Turnitin using the Single file upload option.

Option 2

Option 2(a)

Recommendations for using separate formative and summative text-matching Turnitin upload points:

  • They must be clearly distinct from each other (and the summative Blackboard submission point) both in name and instructions provided.
  • The formative Turnitin upload point should include the word(s) ‘draft’ or ‘NOT final’ in the name, and must not contain any reference to submit or submission; the use of the term ‘formative’ alone may not be clearly understood by students.
  • The Turnitin upload point for text-matching the final submitted work must mirror the settings for Blackboard assignments (i.e. to allow unlimited submissions until the deadline and be available 7 calendar weeks after the deadline).

Option 2(b)

Recommendations for using a single text-matching Turnitin upload point to manage both formative and summative text-matching:

  • The Turnitin upload point must mirror the settings for Blackboard assignments (i.e. to allow unlimited submissions until the deadline and be available 7 calendar weeks after the deadline).
  • Reports will have to be visible after each upload to enable students an opportunity to use their originality report to make changes to their work.
  • The last uploaded attempt made is taken to be the attempt that is final and the originality report used to support a judgement on the originality of the work.
  • Students must be made aware that after the initial fourth time a Turnitin originality report is generated for a student, subsequent reports can take 24 hours to generate where unlimited uploads are permitted. Where a single Turnitin upload point is used to manage both formative and summative submissions, students are responsible for ensuring that they allow sufficient time between uploading formative drafts of their work and the deadline for final submission via Blackboard to enable an originality report to generate and an opportunity for them to make any changes to their final work.

You can bulk upload student papers submitted from Blackboard to Turnitin using the following guidance – How do I bulk upload student papers submitted from Blackboard to Turnitin?

 

Guidance for students when submitting to Turnitin and accessing originality reports
Module Leaders must clearly state to students how to upload their work to Turnitin and how to submit their work to the assignment submission point on Blackboard.  It should be clearly stated that these are two different actions.

There’s a range of guidance currently available to students on how to submit to Turnitin and access originality reports to embed in the Assessment Content Area of your Blackboard site.  See the resources below:

About Turnitin (guidance)

How do I submit work to Turnitin?

 

Interpreting Originality Reports (guidance)

How do I interpret an originality report?

 

System Issues

If Blackboard becomes unavailable

Business Contingency Plans are in place to provide a consistent approach if ever Blackboard becomes unavailable for the submission of student work or to allow marking or the provision of feedback to be completed by staff. A summary of the process relating to submission is outlined below:

Submission

If a submission point for originality checking is unavailable at the time of submission an extension from the time the system is restored is to be provided to all students affected.  A standard message will be placed on Blackboard and your faculty will be in touch with further details.