Turnitin

What is it?

Turnitin is a text-comparison system which is available through Blackboard. When assignments are submitted to Turnitin, the text is compared with sources in the Turnitin database, which include websites, online journals, newspapers and e-books, as well as student work submitted either at Bristol or other institutions. An "originality report" is automatically produced, which highlights any text matching a source in the database and provides links to the sources of these matches. Once matching text has been flagged up by the system, academic staff can then determine if the content has been used inappropriately. The system can also be used formatively to help students develop their academic writing.

It is most effectively used as part of an overall strategy for addressing plagiarism, including - for example - raising student awareness, supporting development of study skills, and considering what forms of assessment may reduce opportunities for plagiarism.

Turnitin also includes Grademark for online marking (see our case study: Marking using Turnitin Grademark), and Peermark for peer review.

Why use it?

  • It can support academic integrity, helping students to improve their writing, and reinforcing appropriate ways to use and cite source material.
  • It can play a part in helping to deter and detect plagiarism, and provides a systematic, quick and easy way for staff to identify matching text.
  • It is integrated with Blackboard, so it can be easily incorporated in an e-submission workflow.

Considerations

While Turnitin has a number of benefits, staff also need to bear in mind a range of considerations and limitations, which include:

  • results need to be interpreted by academic staff with subject expertise
  • it only checks against selected electronic sources (not printed books)
  • it will not detect similarities in graphical materials, such as diagrams, images or equations
  • it may highlight "false positives", eg standard discipline-specific phrases, common sentences which - although not original - probably would not be considered plagiarism, or where a student has made a genuine mistake in referencing
  • it has limited coverage of password-protected/subscription sites (though iParadigms, the developers of the system, say that they regularly negotiate with providers to try to widen the coverage of their database)
  • the database is more limited for languages other than English
  • there can be delays (up to 24 hours) in producing the originality report, particularly at busy times.

How do I start using Turnitin?

Turnitin is primarily available through Blackboard. For basic information on how to start using Turnitin through Blackboard, see the Setting up Turnitin in Blackboard guide (PDF, 391 kB). For more detailed guidance see the Online submission guide and Turnitin's Blackboard Integration Instructor manual (PDF, 3MB).

What support is available?

If you would like any advice or consultation on planning for e-submission, including using Turnitin, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.

If you are interested in Turnitin Grademark, the online marking functionality, there is more information in our case study: Marking using Turnitin Grademark.

Note: Some of the documents on this page are in PDF format. In order to view a PDF you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.