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Students: Turnitin FAQs
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General Information
  1. What is plagiarism? How do I avoid it? How does the University deal with students caught plagiarising?
  2. What is Turnitin?
  3. How does Turnitin work?
  4. What is an originality report?
  5. Does Turnitin detect all plagiarism?
  6. I think that my research study contains sensitive data which should not be stored in the Turnitin database. What can I do?
  7. Who owns the copyright of work submitted to the Turnitin database?
  8. Can other students view my work submitted in the UM VLE?
  9. Can I use other online plagiarism detection tools to check my work?

Submitting to Turnitin
  1. How will I know that I am required to submit my work through Turnitin?
  2. The tutor told us to submit an assignment (taught study-unit) through Turnitin. When I access the UM VLE and click on the study-unit, there are two Turnitin Assignment activities: 'Draft' and 'Final'. How do I proceed?
  3. I am an Undergraduate/Postgraduate student. I need to submit my dissertation through Turnitin. How do I proceed?
  4. How soon can I expect to see the originality report?
  5. Does IT Services offer training on the electronic submission of work through Turnitin?
  6. What file formats are supported by Turnitin?
  7. Is there a size limit for files to be submitted to Turnitin?
  8. How can I minimise the file size of my submission?
  9. My tutor has asked me to submit a printout of the digital receipt. How can I obtain a copy?

Troubleshooting
  1. I think I have uploaded the wrong document. What can I do?
  2. Turnitin is not accepting my submission and an error message is displayed. How may I proceed?
  3. I have submitted my work and the originality report is available in the UM VLE, but I cannot view it. What can I do?
  4. When I attempt to open an originality report, I see the words 'No service currently active' in the right hand pane of the Document Viewer. What can I do?

  

1. What is plagiarism? How do I avoid it? How does the University deal with students caught plagiarising?

Answers to the above questions are found in the following documents:

You are also encouraged to familiarise yourself with the contents of the Useful Resources page.


2. What is Turnitin?

Turnitin compares work against electronic sources including the Internet, books, journals and other students' work, and generates an originality report indicating which parts of the work are unoriginal.

You are allowed to submit a draft version of your work and view the Turnitin originality reports for this, before you submit the final version for assessment purposes. The originality report for your draft work should draw your attention to important features of academic writing such as referencing, paraphrasing, etc.


3. How does Turnitin work?

  • Your tutor sets up Turnitin Assignment activities (Draft & Final) in the relevant UM VLE areas, for work to be submitted by yourself.
  • You submit your work (e.g. MS Word documents) through the UM VLE. Step-by-step instructions are available to guide you through the process of making submissions through Turnitin for:
    • Taught Study-Units
    • UG Dissertations/FYP
    • PG Dissertations/Theses
  • For each submission, Turnitin compares your work against electronic sources including the Internet, books, journals and other students' work. An originality report is generated indicating which parts of your work are unoriginal, together with a list of sources. You will be able to view the originality report for the draft submission for your perusal prior to making the final submission. The originality report for the final submission is viewable only by your tutor.
Turnitin itself makes no decisions as to whether or not work has been plagiarised, it simply highlights sections of text that have been found in other sources in an originality report.

Note that Turnitin stores your document both in its original form and in an 'electronic fingerprint' form. The electronic fingerprint of the document is used to compare against other documents submitted to Turnitin. The original form of the document is only available to you as the original author and to the tutor of the study-unit to which you submit your work.

If another document is subsequently submitted to Turnitin and matches text in one of your submissions, the tutor responsible for the new document will only be provided with the name of the institution from which the matching document originated.

This tutor may email your own tutor, and request their permission to view a copy of your document. UM tutors are advised not to disclose authorship details to any person who makes this request.

4. What is an originality report?

Turnitin produces an originality report after comparing the students' work against electronic sources e.g. Internet, books, journals and other students' work.

The originality report highlights any text in the students' work found to be matching with other sources, along with links to the original sources where matched text was identified.

The report grades the students' work for similarity between 0% (no matches detected) and 100% (all text matched other sources), and assigns a colour coding for the work submitted according to the percentage. The percentage rating (reflecting the amount of content that has been matched) is also known as the similarity index.

A judgement about whether or not plagiarism has occurred cannot be based simply on the percentage of matching text that is found. Tutors will analyse and interpret the originality reports carefully as part of their decision-making process to determine if the students' work has been plagiarised or not.

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5. Does Turnitin detect all plagiarism?    

No. Turnitin's database does not necessarily include all web pages and papers/reports in subscription-based digital libraries. Sometimes, Turnitin does not highlight text that has been copied from other sources because these sources are not present in Turnitin's database. Also, Turnitin will not highlight text that has been correctly paraphrased, but where the in-line citation to the reference is missing. Examiners are free to use other information/sources to determine whether plagiarism has occurred. If the examiner reports a case of suspected plagiarism, then the examiner will provide the Faculty/University Assessment Disciplinary Board with all supporting evidence, and not just the Turnitin originality report.

Turnitin's database does not contain diagrams/figures/images, computer program code, musical scores, artwork, etc. Please refer to your Faculty guidelines to determine how to avoid accidental plagiarism in these cases.

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6. I think that my research study contains sensitive data which should not be stored in the Turnitin database. What can I do?

You are advised to discuss your concern about sensitive data with your tutor.

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7. Who owns the copyright of work submitted to the Turnitin database?

The copyright of work submitted to Turnitin remains with the original author or the University. It does become part of the ever growing database of material against which subsequent submissions are checked, thereby helping to protect the copyright of the work.

The work submitted by UM students through Turnitin cannot be viewed by tutors and students of other institutions even though the originality reports will indicate matches with these submissions. In such cases, Turnitin enables tutors at other institutions to send an email to the UM tutors asking them permission to view the students' papers. The UM tutors may release the students' papers at their discretion.

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8. Can other students view my work submitted in the UM VLE?

No. Although students use the same Turnitin Assignment activity to submit, each student can only access and view his/her own submission.

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9. Can I use other online plagiarism detection tools to check my work?   

Yes, you can use any plagiarism detection tools of your choice to check your work. However, you should read the relevant terms and conditions before using any software, as some terms and conditions may give the plagiarism detection company rights to use your work in ways that you do not necessarily agree with (e.g. making it available for public use). 

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10. How will I know that I am required to submit my work through the UM VLE?

Your tutor will let you know if you will be required to submit your work through the UM VLE to be scanned by Turnitin. In addition, you may also be required to submit a printed version of your work.


11. The tutor told us to submit the assignment (taught study-unit) through the UM VLE. When I access the UM VLE and click on the study-unit, there are two Turnitin Assignment activities: 'Draft' and 'Final'. How do I proceed?

Step-by-step instructions to help you submit draft and final versions of your assignment through Turnitin in the UM VLE are available. 

12. I am an Undergraduate/Postgraduate student. I need to submit my dissertation through Turnitin. How do I proceed?

Step-by-step instructions to help you submit draft and final versions of your dissertation through Turnitin in the UM VLE are available. 


13. How soon can I expect to see the originality report?

Typically, you will only be able to view the originality report of Draft Turnitin Assignment activities, which may take between a few minutes to 24 hours to generate.

Originality reports for re-submissions are processed 24 hours after the document is re-submitted.

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14. Does IT Services offer training on the electronic submission of work through Turnitin?

IT Services regularly organises workshops for students on how to use Turnitin. Training consists of a single hands-on workshop (1.5hrs) and covers submission of work through Turnitin. All UM students are invited to book online to attend one of these sessions. Further information about Turnitin workshops and online booking, as well as step-by-step user guides, are available in the Students: Turnitin Training & User Guides section.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties in submitting your work to the UM VLE, please contact IT Services. All non-technical difficulties should be addressed to your tutor.

More information about the UM VLE is available.

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15. What file formats are supported by Turnitin?

You can submit the following file types in Turnitin:
  • MS Word (.docx & .doc)
  • OpenOffice Text (.odt)
  • Google Docs via Google Drive (.gdoc files are NOT acceptable)
  • WordPerfect (.wpd)
  • PostScript (.ps)
  • PDF (.pdf)
  • MS PowerPoint (.pptx, .ppt, .ppsx & .pps)
  • MS Excel (.xlsx & .xls)
  • Plain Text (.txt)
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • HTML (.html)
  • Hangul Word Processor (.hwp)

If you are using unsupported word processors, you may need to convert these files to PDF and then submit them to Turnitin.


16. Is there a size limit for files to be submitted to Turnitin?

Your submission must contain a minimum of 25 words, and each file that you submit cannot exceed 40MB or 400 pages. 


17. How can I minimise the file size of my submission?

Your file submission cannot exceed 40MB. You may refer to FAQ7 in the VLE FAQs for Students if the file/s you are uploading is too large.

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18. My tutor has asked me to submit a printout of the digital receipt. How can I obtain a copy?

The digital receipt is your main reference of a successful submission. You can download a copy of the digital receipt from the Turnitin Assignment page, by clicking on the 'View Digital Receipt' link. Subsequently, click on 'Print' to save or print the receipt as required.

Alternatively, you can save and print the receipt from the originality report, by clicking on the 'Print' button in the bottom left hand corner of the report and selecting 'Download PDF of digital receipt for printing'.

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19. I think I have uploaded the wrong document. What can I do?

If you have uploaded the wrong document in the Turnitin Assignment draft activity, contact your tutor. Tutors are able to make arrangements for you to submit your correct draft work.

If you have uploaded the wrong document in the Turnitin Assignment final activity before the due date, you should be able to re-submit your document. If the due date for the final submission has been met, contact your tutor.

Originality reports for re-submissions are processed 24 hours after the document is re-submitted.

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20. Turnitin is not accepting my submission and an error message is displayed. How may I proceed?

You may encounter one of the following two errors:

  • Unsupported file format - Turnitin supports the file formats enlisted in FAQ15. If you upload a different file type, it will not be submitted to Turnitin. In this case, you are required to save your submission as PDF or any other supported file, and re-submit your work to overwrite the original file.
  • File containing less than 100 characters - If your document contains less than 100 characters (approximately 25 words), it will not be submitted to Turnitin.
If you have encountered a different error, or you're still encountering difficulties while submitting your work through Turnitin, please contact IT Services.

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21. I have submitted my work and the originality report is available in the UM VLE, but I cannot view it. What can I do?

It is likely that the browser version you are using is not compatible with the Turnitin document viewer. It is recommended that you use the latest version of any of the browsers listed as per FAQ2 in the VLE FAQs for Students.

Contact IT Services if you are still experiencing technical difficulties.

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22. When I attempt to open an originality report, I see the words 'No service currently active' in the right hand pane of the Document Viewer. What can I do?

Draft Turnitin Assignment activity:

  • You may have clicked on your submission's title instead of on the percentage link in the 'Similarity' column when attempting to view the originality report. Either click on the button labelled Originality in the top left corner of the Document Viewer, or close the Document Viewer and click on the similarity index in the Similarity column of the Turnitin Assignment page.

Final Turnitin Assignment activity:

  • The Turnitin originality report for the final work should not be viewable by students. Therefore, if you have clicked your submission's title to view your submitted work, the 'No service currently active' message will be displayed in the right hand pane of the Document Viewer.

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Last Updated: 25 August 2017

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