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TurnItIn for Insturctors: User Guides, Manuals & Tutorials: FAQs

This guide will help you getting started with Turnitin.

Should an instructor depend on Turnitin for viewing plagiarised text?

Turnitin looks for text similarity and doesn’t grade papers, this remains an academic judgment to check the assignment, examine the originality report to understand what a student did and then decide whether or not there is a problem.

Has Turnitin included every source: books, web pages, publications unpublished works, etc…?

Turnitin has a huge database consists of: 200 million archived student papers, 17 billion web pages crawled, 90,000 journals, periodicals & books. Some sources are not included especially if they were only available in print.

Why is the similarity score changing after receiving the originality report?

It is possible for the Similarity Index (the percentage of matching text between a submitted document and sources in the Turnitin databases) to change after you've received an initial Originality Report.

There are several reasons why this may happen:

  1. The instructor may have refreshed the report after the first report was generated. New content is frequently added to the Turnitin databases.  This could mean that a source was not available for matching initially but has since been indexed by Turnitin so that it shows up in the second report.
  2.  The instructor may have changed the filters to exclude or re-include quotes, bibliography, or small matches from the report.
  3.  if the assignment is allowing resubmissions, all Originality Reports are generated one final time at the due date of the assignment.  This allows all of the papers submitted to that assignment to be compared against each other.  It's likely that the Similarity Indexes for those papers would change due to the similar content or subject matter of the documents being submitted.

How can an instructor set the assignment so submitted papers won't be saved to Turnitin database?

When a paper is submitted to Turnitin, the papers are generally saved to the Turnitin student repository database.  This is to ensure that if the same paper (or parts of the paper) is submitted again, Turnitin will be able to find the match and flag it as possible plagiarism. 

NOTE:  The instructions below are for New assignments, but if you would like to change the settings for an existing assignment, click on the class name, then the "More Actions" link for the assignment and choose the "Edit Settings" link.  Finish by following steps 5-8.  The new settings will only affect future submissions, and not already-submitted papers.

When creating new assignments, Instructors can choose to *not* have submitted papers saved to any database by doing the following:

  1. Sign in to your account as an instructor
  2. Click on the class name
  3.  Click on the “+Add Assignment” link and choose "Paper Assignment."
  4. Create a name for the assignment and set the dates. 
  5. Click on the “+Optional Settings” link towards the bottom of the screen.
  6. Scroll down again until you reach the "Submit papers to" pull-down menu.
  7. Select "no repository" from the pull-down menu.
  8. Click on the "submit" icon to save this assignment.

This means that if, for example, two students in a class submit the same paper, Turnitin will NOT find a match between them.  This can be helpful for group project papers, where several people in a group would submit the same paper for the assignment.

The 'No Repository' option is only good for newly created assignments.  In other words, it won't go into effect on assignments with submissions already in them when the setting was set to save the submissions in the repository.

Does Turnitin protect submitted papers?

Submitted papers are kept secured. No one can search within the students’ database.

Why Turnitin couldn't find matching sources for some papers used web sources however these papers got zero similarity?

There are a few reasons why matches cannot be found. They are:

  1. New internet pages get added every day to the web. It’s impossible to have every page on the net "saved" in TurnItIn’s database instantly. Therefore, a source you may have found online may not yet be in the database because it simply has not been scanned by the web-crawlers yet. But, you may feel free to provide a URL to a site, and we can try adding it to the database. It generally takes about two weeks to crawl and index new content for our database.

  3. In cases of databases where “subscriptions” are necessary for access (such as journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.), or where the web crawlers are blocked, TurnItIn will not be able to download the information automatically. It will be at the discretion of those who control the particular site whether permission is granted, and whether they are allowed to download the documents. You may also wish to contact representatives from other databases whose databases you wish Turnitin included, and request permission for access. Requests from users such as yourself may promote access for the crawlers.

  5. Some sources are images of text, and not actual text (ex. Google Books). In these situations, Turnitin will not be able to capture the source, and therefore cannot add it to the database.

  7. The instructror may have set the assignment to disregard a particular repository source to compare submissions in an assignment against. The available search targets are(Student paper repository, Institution paper repository , Current and archived internet, Periodicals, journals, & publications)  listed under the “Search options" field, which is within the "Optional Settings" when creating or editing an assignment.

Why should instructors expire their classes after the end of each semester?

When instructors expire their classes at the end of each sem. , all students enrolled on these classes will automatically be inactive & will clean up the account for a new sem. after duplications & fake accounts found within our students’ accounts.

What can I do if I submitted a paper to a wrong class?

The student will need to enroll in the correct class and then upload his/her paper again. As for the instructor, you can go into the newly submitted report and exclude matches to the paper that was uploaded to the previous class. That way you will be able to see the new report without seeing matches to the previous submission.

Can an instructor transfer papers between assignments in the same class?

It is possible for Instructors to "move" a paper from one assignment to another within the same class when a student submitted a paper to the wrong assignment.

To transfer a paper to another assignment, please do the following:

  1. Sign into your account.
  2. Click on the class name.
  3. Click on "view" for the assignment where the file/paper is located.
  4. Select the box next to the author of the paper you wish to transfer.
  5. Click the “move to…” tab.
  6. Select the name of the assignment you wish to transfer the paper to from the “destination assignment:” pull down menu.
  7. Click “submit”.

Once the paper is moved, you will see it in the inbox for the correct assignment.

Note: It is not possible to move submissions or assignments from one class to another class, regardless if it's a master class, section class, or standard class.

How Turnitin excludes quotes & bibliography from submitted papers?

When creating assignments, Instructors have the ability to exclude quoted material and bibliographies from the Originality Report.  Doing so may lower the similarity index (percentage) of the Originality Report. To do so, please follow the directions below:
  1. Log into your instructor account and click on a class.
  2. Click on the green "+Add Assignment" button, and select "paper assignment."
  3. Fill in the basic assignment details (eg. name, point value, dates).
  4. Click on the "+Optional Settings" link.
  5. Scroll down and click "yes" under the headings "Exclude bibliographic materials..." and "Exclude quoted materials...".
  6. Scroll down and click the "submit" button.

When you choose to "exclude quotes," Turnitin will recognize quotes by the use of double quotation marks, or paragraph indentations in a Microsoft Word document. Single quotations are not recognized as quotes. When you choose to exclude bibliographies, Turnitin will detect the following key words and disregard matches in the paper after that point:

  • references
  • references cited
  • references and notes
  • resources
  • bibliography
  • works cited
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