When you submit a text-based assignment in Blackboard, it goes into Turnitin, which is a program that compares the text in your assignment with a database of online sources, textbooks, journal articles and other student assignments.
How Turnitin works
Turnitin produces an Originality Report which highlights the text in your assignment that matches or is similar to another source, and links to the original source. The report also includes a Similarity Index which is calculated as the number of highlighted words divided by the total number of words in your assignment. Be aware that Curtin does not define a ‘safe’ level for the Similarity Index, nor is there a level that signals that plagiarism has occurred. Turnitin does not distinguish between ‘innocent matches’ and those that may be considered plagiarism. For example, if a unit coordinator sets a question that all students must answer, likely that question text will match in all of the assignment submissions for that unit. This would be considered an innocent match.
How to use Turnitin to help avoid plagiarism
Downloading or printing your Turnitin originality report
This video covers how to access the Originality Report, what the Similarity Index is, and how the Originality Report is used to identify plagiarism.
What to do about those highlighted bits
This video covers reviewing your matches and deciding what action to take, and how to plan your work to prevent plagiarism.
Understanding Turnitin’s report
See page 17 of the Student guidelines for avoiding plagiarism [.pdf – 3.3MB] for more tips on using Turnitin to avoid plagiarism.
More about Turnitin
Curtin policy requires all text based assignments to be submitted to Turnitin. A copy of all work submitted to Turnitin will be retained on Turnitin’s database for future text matching. This process has been tested in the courts and found to be in compliance with copyright, privacy and data protection laws.
The effectiveness of Turnitin depends on its ability to store copies of all documents submitted to it. This has the benefit of protecting your rights and intellectual property in the future. Under exceptional circumstances, such as when the work is commercially sensitive, you can request that a paper be removed from the database. Undergraduate work would not be expected to fall into this category under normal circumstances. If you believe that exceptional circumstances apply in your situation, make a formal request explaining your reasons to your unit coordinator.
The only people able to view the copy of your assignment submitted to the Turnitin database, or the associated originality report, are the teaching team associated with that unit of study (such as unit coordinator, tutors and markers). Turnitin’s employees are not able to view your assignment.
The person marking your submitted work will review the originality report generated by the Turnitin service. The report highlights text in your submitted work that matches content in Turnitin’s databases. The marker will review each highlighted passage of text to determine if the passage has been poorly paraphrased or if it has been directly copied from another source, and whether this indicates plagiarism.
The report also includes an index (the Similarity Index) calculated as the number of highlighted words divided by the total number of words in your assignment. A high Similarity Index is not automatically interpreted by the marker as plagiarism, and Curtin does not define any minimum or maximum thresholds for the index score. This means that there is no ‘safe’ score nor is there a score that, if exceeded, indicates that plagiarism has occurred.
The detection of plagiarism is a matter of academic judgement by the marker, allowing and requiring them to take into consideration the type of match highlighted, the extent of matching and the use in-text citations and references.
Try troubleshooting the problem using the guide on the Turnitin website. This guide covers:
- Accepted file types and sizes
- Viewing a rubric or grading form before submission
- How to submit a paper by uploading a file or cutting and pasting text
- Viewing submitted files
- Downloading Submitted Papers and Digital Receipts
- Resubmitting a paper
If you’re still having difficulty submitting an assignment through Turnitin, contact your unit coordinator in case there are problems with the way the assignment submission link has been set up.
The Turnitin webpages include some graphics to guide you through the submission process and for various functions associated with viewing the originality report and accessing the digital receipt. Normally these visual elements have hidden text behind them to allow screen readers to function.
If you’re using a screen reader, you may find that the Turnitin Document Viewer is not fully compatible with your software. The Document Viewer is the default view for the Originality Report. It appears in a separate browser window that is launched when you access your submission from the Turnitin Assignment Inbox. The ‘text-only’ view of the Originality Report is generally more compatible with screen reader technologies.
To access the ‘text-only’ view follow these steps:
- In your Blackboard unit, navigate to the assignment submission page and select the link labelled View/Complete to show the Turnitin page.
- The Turnitin page has two tabs. Make sure the Assignment Inbox tab is active (this is selected by default). For the appropriate assignment in the list, select the View button.
- Select the Text-Only Report link at the bottom of the page.
From the preferences link, the text-only report provides the following options that may improve accessibility:
- Colour code matches: 1) Yes or 2) No.
- Default mode 1) show highest matches together 2) show matches one at a time 3) quickview (classic) report.
- auto-navigation 1) jump to next match 2) scroll to next match.
Turnitin remembers the last view used to access the originality report, so when you open another report, the view used last will be displayed. This way, you can set the default to be Document Viewer or Text Only.