Turnitin – FAQ

 

Questions

  1. Conditions of Use
  2. What is Turnitin and how does it work?
  3. How can I use Turnitin?
  4. How do I create a Turnitin assignment in my course?
  5. How do my students submit an assignment to Turnitin?
  6. How far in advance should I notify my students that I will be using Turnitin?
  7. Why do I have to inform students of my intention to use Turnitin?
  8. How are papers submitted to Turnitin?
  9. How can I view submitted papers?
  10. What are Similarity Reports and how can I view them?
  11. What happens to the papers once they are submitted to Turnitin?
  12. Can Graduate course papers be submitted to Turnitin?
  13. Can Graduate theses be submitted to Turnitin?
  14. What about copyright and intellectual property issues?
  15. If a student is unable to or objects to submitting a paper through Turnitin, what are some of the alternate methods that I can use to check his/her paper as rigorously?
  16. Can Turnitin review papers in languages other than English?
  17. Can I use Turnitin to check one student paper? Can I upload a student’s paper to Turnitin to check for plagiarism? 

 

1. CONDITIONS OF USE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
The use of Turnitin.com by our instructors is completely voluntary. Those wishing to use Turnitin.com in their courses must adhere to the following conditions of use:

  1. Turnitin.com is a tool that will assist in detecting textual similarities between compared works. Instructors must exercise their independent professional judgment in, and assume responsibility for, determining whether a text has been plagiarized or not.
  2. Instructors must include the following passage (as is) on the course outline at the start of the class. Please note that the statement cannot be altered in any way.
    “Normally, students will be required to submit their course essays to Turnitin.com for a review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. In doing so, students will allow their essays to be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. The terms that apply to the University’s use of the Turnitin.com service are described on the Turnitin.com web site”. 
  3. Students are permitted, under our conditions of use, to opt-out of using Turnitin. If a student chooses not to submit their assignment through Turnitin, instructors will need to find alternative arrangements to check their work as rigorously. (It should be noted that very few students choose to opt out.) Students cannot be penalized for choosing to opt out. If students choose to opt out, they should let their instructor know well in advance of submitting their paper. Ideally, they should communicate this during the first class, when the instructor is reviewing the course outline. In this case, you may ask them to submit all of their rough work for an assignment or you may have a short meeting with them and ask pointed questions about their research methodology. Instructors should not be asking students to do anything that might be perceived as additional work. We ask that instructors consult with the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation when establishing these alternatives.

The Turnitin Conditions of Use statement is available in all Quercus courses for instructors to copy and paste in the course syllabus.

On the Quercus course home page, navigate to the right-hand sidebar menu (under Course Status) and click on the Turnitin Conditions button:


Best Practices
It is recommended that you also take a few moments in class at the outset of your course to discuss the use of Turnitin and the issue of academic integrity with your students. Please note that while students’ papers are stored in the Turnitin database, students do retain the copyright on their work.

You may wish to print out student assignments that have been submitted via the Assignment tool in your Quercus course.


2. WHAT IS TURNITIN AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Turnitin is an electronic resource that assists in the detection and deterrence of plagiarism.  Instructors using this tool can create a Turnitin Assignment in their Quercus course to which students submit their assignments electronically. Each submitted paper is checked for textual similarity using millions of resources stored in the Turnitin database. Once analyzed, Similarity Reports (formerly referred to as Originality Reports) are generated within 5-10 minutes for instructors, highlighting questionable areas.  Instructors can access and view the Similarity Report in their Quercus course. Using this information as well as any other relevant information, it is then up to the individual instructor to determine if these passages represent plagiarism.

Sometimes in University communications there is reference to “Turnitin” and sometimes to “Turnitin.com”. From an operational perspective these should be treated as synonymous.

All work submitted to Turnitin is checked against three databases of content:

  • A current and archived copy of the publicly accessible Internet (more than 4.5 billion pages updated at a rate of 30-40 million pages per day);
  • Millions of published works (from ABI/Inform, Periodical Abstracts, Business Dateline, ProQuest, the Gutenberg Collection of literary classics, and tens of thousands of electronic books);
  • Millions of student papers submitted to Turnitin since 1996.

 

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3. HOW CAN I USE TURNITIN?
Turnitin is available for use in Quercus courses. Instructors using this tool can create Turnitin Assignments in their Quercus course to which students submit their assignments electronically. With the integration of Turnitin into Quercus class and assignment setup on Turnitin.com are no longer supported.

 

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4. HOW DO I CREATE A TURNITIN ASSIGNMENT IN MY COURSE?

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5. HOW DO MY STUDENTS SUBMIT AN ASSIGNMENT TO TURNITIN?

Students can submit to a Turnitin assignment by taking the following steps:

 

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6. HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD I NOTIFY MY STUDENTS THAT I WILL BE USING TURNITIN?

Students must be notified at the start of a course. The course syllabus must include the following statement:

“Normally, students will be required to submit their course essays to Turnitin for a review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. In doing so, students will allow their essays to be included as source documents in the Turnitin reference database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. The terms that apply to the University’s use of the Turnitin service are described on the Turnitin web site.”

In addition, it is recommended that you also take a few moments in class at the outset of your course to discuss the use of Turnitin and the issue of academic integrity with your students. You may wish to consult U of T’s resources (for faculty, students and TAs) on academic integrity available online at: http://academicintegrity.utoronto.ca/

 

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7. WHY DO I HAVE TO INFORM STUDENTS OF MY INTENTION TO USE TURNITIN?
As part of the licensing agreement with Turnitin instructors are required to inform students at the start of a course that this program will be used to check their papers. Further, students should be informed of its use, since their papers are retained in the Turnitin database. Note however, that students retain the copyright on their work.

 

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8. HOW ARE PAPERS SUBMITTED TO TURNITIN?

Students submit their own papers via online submission using the Quercus Assignment tool

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9. HOW CAN I VIEW SUBMITTED PAPERS?

Student submissions to Turnitin Assignments can viewed and graded using the Speedgrader tool in Quercus

 

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10. WHAT ARE SIMILARITY REPORTS AND HOW CAN I VIEW THEM?

For each paper submitted to a Turnitin assignment an Similarity Report is generated by Turnitin. The Similarity Report highlights textual similarities found within a submitted paper and provides links to sources that contain similar text.

Those wishing to use Turnitin must adhere to the Conditions of Use for the University of Toronto. Similarity Reports highlight passages that may be of concern, but do not automatically report whether a paper has been plagiarized. Determining if plagiarism has occurred requires analysis by the instructor. This Similarity Report can be viewed side-by-side with the original paper to facilitate comparison.

For information on what constitutes plagiarism at U of T consult the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters http://www.governingcouncil.utoronto.ca/Assets/Governing+Council+Digital+Assets/Policies/PDF/ppjun011995.pdf and/or your department or division.

View the Similarity Report: https://q.utoronto.ca/courses/46670/pages/integration-turnitin#viewReport

 

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11. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PAPERS ONCE THEY ARE SUBMITTED TO TURNITIN?

Submitted papers are stored in the Turnitin database but are not the property of Turnitin. Instructors can only access those papers that were directly submitted to their own course. Similarly, students can only access and view the papers that they have submitted in their Quercus courses.

 

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12. CAN GRADUATE COURSE PAPERS BE SUBMITTED THROUGH TURNITIN?

The conditions of use for Turnitin apply to both undergraduate and graduate course papers.

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13. CAN GRADUATE THESES BE SUBMITTED TO TURNITIN?
Supervisors should ensure that they have the explicit consent of a student before they submit his/her thesis to Turnitin.

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14. WHAT ABOUT COPYRIGHT AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUES?

Under Canadian copyright laws students retain the copyright to any papers submitted to Turnitin.  The Turnitin system creates digital fingerprints of student papers – which are not “true derivative works for copyright purposes; they contain only uncopyrightable numerical algorithms regarding the papers but not the papers themselves.” (See their Privacy and Copyright document for more information.)

The intellectual property of all students submitting to Turnitin is protected by the licensing agreement between the University of Toronto and iParadigms.  In addition, this agreement ensures that student papers submitted to Turnitin will not be used for commercial purposes.

Privacy and Security: https://help.turnitin.com/Privacy_and_Security/Privacy_and_Security.htm?

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15. IF A STUDENT IS UNABLE TO OR OBJECTS TO SUBMITTING A PAPER THROUGH TURNITIN, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ALTERNATE METHODS THAT I CAN USE TO CHECK HIS/HER PAPER AS RIGOROUSLY?

There are a number of alternate methods that can be implemented, including:

  • requiring annotated bibliographies from students;
  • requiring students submit all rough work with their papers;
  • requiring that students include the call numbers or web site addresses of all sources cited in their paper.

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16. CAN TURNITIN REVIEW PAPERS IN LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH?

Turnitin Global now handles text correctly in 31 languages in addition to English:

Arabic, Catalan, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian (Bokmal, Nynorsk), Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

This also means Turnitin is indexing many additional websites that contain those languages against which we compare submitted papers.

 

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17. CAN I USE TURNITIN TO CHECK ONE STUDENT PAPER? CAN I UPLOAD A STUDENT’S PAPER TO TURNITIN TO CHECK FOR PLAGIARISM?

At U of T, our conditions of use require that students be informed at the outset of the course that the instructor intends to use Turnitin. Our practice is to ask students to submit directly to Turnitin assignment, rather than having instructors submit on behalf of the students. This ensures that students can opt out of using the program – something that we allow for here without penalty.

And so this means, that instructors cannot submit a paper through Turnitin without the student’s knowledge. You can ask your student to submit directly to Turnitin but you cannot require them to do so.

There are a number of methods that can be implemented as an alternative to using Turnitin to check for plagiarism including:

  • requiring annotated bibliographies from students;
  • Requiring students submit all rough work with their papers;
  • Requiring that students include the call numbers or web site addresses of all sources cited in their paper.

 

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