What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a text-matching service used by some courses. It can be used to help you and your instructors determine if sources have been used correctly or if any type of plagiarism has occurred. 

How does Turnitin work?

Turnitin checks  submitted assignments against online sources, commercial databases, and databases of assignments from  Box Hill Institute and other institutions, and generates a similarity score and a similarity report showing which sources text from your assignment matches. 

Similarity scores are a percentage. A higher score indicates that a higher percentage of the text matches other sources. Scores will vary depending on the type of the assignment – for example, a templated assignment will have a higher similarity score than an original essay, because other students’ assignments will have the same template.  If you quoted and cited a source properly it may still be a part of the similarity score, but this is not a problem. The similarity report has to be interpreted well in order to be helpful. There's more info on this below.

How is Turnitin used in your course? 

Instructors can set up assignments in two ways:

  1. When you submit the assignment, it gets sent to Turnitin. Instructors will see the similarity score and report when they are grading. Instructors can choose whether the report is visible to you. 
  2. When you upload the assignment and it is still in draft mode, it gets sent to Turnitin. You will be able to see the similarity score and report and address any issues before you submit. When you upload another draft, it will get resent to Turnitin and new similarity scores will be calculated. There will be a 24-hour delay for report generation after the first 3 resubmissions. Your instructor will also be able to see the similarity scores and report when you submit the assignment. 

How do I access my similarity score and report?

Instructions: Select each step to learn more about each one. 

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Step 1: Add your submission

Access the assignment through StudentWeb and add your submission.

Image of the Add Submission button at the end of an assignment on StudentWeb

Step 2: Accept the EULA (End User License Agreement)

You will only need to do this once. The first time you submit an assignment to Turnitin, you will be directed to agree to the EULA.

Image of the notification to sign the EULA 

Image of the EULA Image of the screen once you've accepted the user agreement

Step 3: Upload your assignment

Drag and drop, or use the file picker, to upload your assignment. Click 'Save changes'.

Image of the upload screen for assignments

Step 4: Check your submission status

Notice your assignment is still a draft (not yet submitted for grading) and your Turnitin status is queued.

Image of the submission status showing the draft is not submitted and the Turnitin status is queued.

Step 5: Refresh your screen

Refresh your screen and see the percentage score populate. This may take several minutes. You can repeat this process three times after making changes to your document and you will get an updated report. After that, it will take 24 hours for a new report to generate. Click on the percentage.

image of the submission status showing the Turnitin percentage

Step 6: Open the Turnitin Feedback Studio

Click on the percentage to open the Turnitin Feedback Studio and view your Similarity Report.

Image of a sample similarity report

Step 8: Improve your assignment and upload it for grading
  • Use information from the report to help improve your assignment. Save the improvements to your document. 
  • In the assignment in StudentWeb click 'Edit submission', and update your submission. Click 'Save Changes' and wait for a new report to populate. Refresh your screen. It might take a few minutes for it to populate. This will work 3 times, after that it will take 24 hours to populate a report.
  • Once you are satisfied that your work is original and includes properly cited source, submit your assignment for grading.

 How can I interpret the similarity report?

Instructions: Select each heading to learn about each step.

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Menu Overview

On the right, you'll see the red menu. Click the different icons to see more details.

Match Overview

Matches in your text will be numbered and colour coded to match the list on the right. The percentages show how much of the document each match represents. Look at each match in turn and decide if you have a problem, or not. If its an internet source, you can see the match in context, if the match is from another student's paper, you will not be able to see the context for privacy reasons. 

You can also click on the small number in the text of your assignment to get more information on the matches. 

Why your text might match other sources

Your text might match other sources because:

  • It is a quotation. If it's correctly quoted, cited, and referenced according to the style (MLA, APA, Harvard, etc.) used in your field, this is not a problem and is not plagiarism.
  • It is a quotation, but it's incorrectly quoted, cited, or referenced. This is a problem and may be considered plagiarism.
  • It is a common phrase in your discipline or academic writing. This is likely not a problem and not considered plagiarism.
  • It is an assignment specific question or template your instructor has asked you to use. This is not plagiarism.
  • It is an incomplete paraphrase or mosaic plagiarism. The writer has used another's words and made an effort to change them, but their language is still too close to the original. This is a problem and is plagiarism.



 Further resources
  • For more information about research and writing, look at Box Hill Institute's library LibGuide for Research.
  • If you struggle with Language, Literacy, Numeracy or Digital Capability, get in touch with one of the support teachers in that area.
  • If you would like feedback on your writing, submit your paper to Studiosity.
  • For more information abut understanding text similarity, watch this video from Turnitin. 

Last modified: Friday, 14 May 2021, 2:43 PM