Using Turnitin to check for plagiarism

 

Deakin provides students and staff with access to the Turnitin tool through CloudDeakin. The tool can be setup to automatically check student work however, if this is done then students must be given the opportunity to check their own work prior to submission.

The Learning Innovations team can help you setup your Assignment drop box to use Turnitin. For more information on using Turnitin, see the relevant DTeach CloudDeakin guide.

What is the Turnitin Originality Report?

An Originality Report is an indication of similarities between a piece of work submitted by a student and a database of previously submitted work, websites, journal articles and other sources. If a match between a submitted piece of work and an existing work is found, Turnitin will highlight the matching text and provide a summary on the Originality Report.

The Originality Report is NOT a plagiarism report

The matching text found is not an assessment of whether work has, or has not been, plagiarised. Originality Reports can help academics locate potential sources of plagiarism. The decision to deem any work plagiarised is made only after careful examination of both the submitted paper and the suspect sources.

Examples of material that are often highlighted, and do not suggest plagiarism:

  • Correctly cited reference lists
  • Title pages including unit and assessment information

In some cases, the originality report can identify where one student has similar work to another student. After examination of this similar material, academics may choose to make an allegation of misconduct against both students.

What overall percentage matters?

There is no right or wrong percentage because there is no right or wrong amount of unoriginal text in any piece of work. Students can use quotations (i.e. words copied directly from a source) in submitted work and this will be detected as unoriginal text. If the student has used and cited each quotation appropriately then the academic will not make an allegation of plagiarism. If, however, quotations are not used and cited appropriately then an allegation of academic misconduct may proceed.

Staff should not just look at the originality index and immediately assume that the student has plagiarised. Staff must consider the sections identified and determine if the work is referenced.

A poor attempt at referencing is not plagiarism, it is poor scholarship and should be handled in the marking of the assessment item and appropriate feedback provided to the student.