Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any questions that are not addressed here please email your question(s) to Jessica Manzo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What is Turnitin?
Turnitin provides originality checking, online grading and peer review to prevent plagiarism and engage students in the writing process. Turnitin encourages best practices for using and citing other people's written material and offers instructors ways to save time and improve their feedback on the writing process. The service offers a complete web?based service to manage the process of submitting and tracking papers electronically, providing better – and faster – feedback to students.
2. How does Turnitin work?
Institutions license Turnitin on an annual basis. The institutions are encouraged to communicate with students about their use of Turnitin and how their academic integrity policies work. An instructor sets up a class and an assignment in the Turnitin service. Students or instructors then submit papers to Turnitin via file upload or cut and paste.
Turnitin's proprietary software then compares the paper's text to a vast database of 14+ billion pages of digital content (including archived Internet content that is no longer available on the live web) as well as over 150 million papers in the student paper archive, and 110,000+ professional, academic and commercial journals and publications. We're adding new content through new partnerships all the time. For example, our partner CrossRef boasts 500?plus members that include publishers such as Elsevier and the IEEE, and has already added hundreds of millions of pages of new content to our database.
Turnitin offers institutions a wide variety of flexible options for handling students' submissions including options that let students choose to keep their papers in an institution-only private zone.
3. How many people use Turnitin?
Turnitin is the #1 most popular, most effective and most trusted solution for originality checking, online grading and peer review by any measure: number of faculty users (more than one million), number of students under license (over 20 million), number of student papers historically processed (over 150 million), number of institutional licensees (over 10,000), and number of countries where Turnitin is used (126).
4. Does Turnitin only offer originality checking?
OriginalityCheck and GradeMark are the parts of the integrated Turnitin solution offered at Mississippi College. Currently Peer Review (PeerMark) is not an option.
5. Is Turnitin only used by writing instructors?
No, Turnitin can be used across disciplines. Any instructor who assigns written work can use Turnitin to check originality, grade online and facilitate peer review.
6. What if Turnitin finds text matches in a student paper?
Turnitin determines if text in a paper matches text in any of the Turnitin databases. The service does not detect nor determine plagiarism – it just detects matching text to help instructors determine if plagiarism has occurred. Indeed, the text in the student's paper that is found to match a source may be properly cited and attributed. It is recommended that instructors carefully review the Originality Report and all matches before making any determination of plagiarism. Such determinations of plagiarism require human judgment, and instructors and students alike should understand their institution's academic integrity policies before turning in written assignments.
7. Who can see the student's paper?
Only the course instructor, and possibly a TA assigned to the course, can see a student's paper. If a match is found between the student's paper and another student's paper, the instructor can request the matching paper from the other student's instructor. The instructors decide whether to share the matching paper depending on the circumstances.
The only exception to this rule is in the case of peer review assignments. Students using PeerMark will be allowed to view the text of the papers they are assigned to review from within the context of the peer review assignment, though the instructor can choose to distribute the papers anonymously.
8. Does Turnitin offer support and training for its service?
Turnitin offers free, live web conferences for orientation and training – and real, live product specialists are available to take your phone calls, answer questions and walk you through any challenges you may encounter. No other vendor offers that.
We also offer free, live, online professional support webinars called the Turnitin Academy for helping instructors integrate all of our services with their teaching. Learn more
1. With such unprecedented access to online content, is plagiarism more of a problem than before?
There's no doubt that the digital age has made plagiarism much easier than in the past. Finding a wide range of pre-existing content, copying it, pasting it and sharing it with others has become a quick and nearly effortless process. Detecting plagiarism by traditional means is much harder.
There is ample anecdotal evidence to suggest that plagiarism is now widespread, and research appears to back this up. For example, The Josephson Institute's 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth reports that twenty-one percent of students say they've downloaded a paper or report from the web to turn in, while 50 percent have seen or heard about others doing this; 38 percent have copied text from Web sites and turned it in as their own work, while 60 percent have seen or heard this. Moreover, a large percentage of teens surveyed did not view such behavior as a serious offense. And a large-scale study by Rutgers University Management Professor Donald McCabe concluded that "Internet plagiarism is prevalent among college and university students."
2. How serious is the issue of plagiarism?
Standards and policies differ from one school system and institution to the next, but plagiarism is generally considered a serious violation of academic standards and a detriment to education. Our culture puts a high value on original thinking and intellectual property, and these principles apply not only in academic but also professional and commercial settings. The degree of "seriousness" is ultimately up to individual institutions, as embodied in their stated policies and their efforts to educate students, faculty and staff on the importance of the issue.
3. Are there different degrees of plagiarism?
Yes. Incidents range from unintentional to intentional. Many cases result from a lack of awareness on the part of students as to the nature and seriousness of plagiarism. For this reason, the problem calls not only for detection and enforcement but also education and training. We encourage educators to use a tool like Turnitin® Originality Checking to help sensitize students to issues of academic integrity and proper citation. Turnitin can be used as an instructional support tool to show students what they are doing and how to prevent problems in the future.
4. What are the disciplinary consequences of plagiarism? What should the consequences in education be?
These are matters of institutional policy, and those practices and policies vary widely. The Center for Academic Integrity (CAI) helps colleges and universities share and establish best practices in this area.
5. How can educators most effectively teach students about plagiarism?
In our experience, it is not enough to simply tell students what plagiarism is. It is more effective to help students understand plagiarism in the context of their own writing. We have professional development seminars called the Turnitin® Academy in which we show educators specific classroom exercises designed to help students recognize potential instances of plagiarism in their own writing. This kind of experiential learning is much more effective than mere description.
6. Should educators design assignments that are difficult to plagiarize?
Some educators attempt to solve the copying problem by designing assignments that are "plagiarism-proof." For example, rather than asking students to write a research report about icebergs (which is easy to cut and paste from web sources), a teacher might ask them to write an autobiography as if they were an iceberg. Such assignments can engage students in the core course concepts and challenge them to build their skills and knowledge, while making it difficult to re-use existing sources verbatim.
Instructors can also break assignments into a series of drafts and require students to turn in those drafts — avoiding the "last minute" syndrome that can lead to students copying a paper from elsewhere.
But eliminating all opportunities for plagiarized material is difficult. Traditional research papers, for example, are an essential part of many curricula and are inherently vulnerable to plagiarism.
7. Why do students plagiarize? Is it pressure, disorganization, poor study habits/skills, ease of "cut and paste" from the web, lack of understanding about the seriousness of plagiarism, or lack of knowledge about how/what to cite or what?
All of the factors above are relevant. And as instructors have told us repeatedly: many students just don't know what they are doing. They may know that plagiarizing is wrong but don't realize that they are actually doing it.
8. How can educators and parents deal with issues around plagiarism and help students avoid trouble?
It starts with articulating clear rules regarding the use and proper attribution of unoriginal content and ideas in one's own writing. But it takes more than "do's and don'ts"; it also requires detailed guidance in the context of actual writing assignments. Close reading and substantive feedback from instructors and peers are needed to show students where plagiarism is an issue and how to avoid it. Turnitin focuses on delivering that essential feedback throughout the writing process to students so they can express themselves originally, confidently and competently.