Plagiarism: Helping Students to Write with TurnItIn
Updated: Sep 28, 2018
Original Post from October 14, 2016
There are many things said about avoiding plagiarism. What is #Plagiarism? Oxford Dictionary defines plagiarism as: “The practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own”. Plagiarism is considered a theft of words and ideas; and it is very important, especially in academic world to avoid it. Every educational institution has their own policies regarding academic misconduct, but sometimes it is very hard to detect plagiarism and its extent, especially when so much information is available over the internet resources. Are there tools that help teachers and students to learn and master the practice on how to avoid plagiarism?
There are many tools available right now on the market to help students improve their writing. Very recently (October, 2016) I had a chance to research one of the online systems that helps both instructors and students in this area: #TurnItIn. Comprehensive training and tutorials are available online on turnitin.com website, but here is my short take on this tool.
TurnItIn provides online environment for students and instructors to review papers on similarities found with other resources available through online journals and its own databases, as well as checking for grammar.
It is intuitive and easy to use after spending about an hour or two of testing. It will require initial set up of accounts with minimal information from teachers and students. Teachers must set up their courses and “Assignment Drop Boxes” to be used for them as well as students.
Assignment drop boxes have NOT overwhelming amount of settings, that will help you to set “sensitivity” of checking for similarities, as well as how students will see the feedback and grades (if desired to be used). You can choose multiple submissions before the due date of assignment which will allow students to improve their work if similarity report comes back with the high score and requires re-working. This feature is particularly useful to allow mastery learning in area of plagiarism with the minimal help from teachers.
TurnItIn provides multiple options on how to assign students and TA to your classes. You can add students one-by-one (requires names and email addresses), upload a file for batch enrollment, or you can send class id and password to let them self-enroll to the class. Good thing that accounts are based on the email addresses of the users, and you only have to create account once.
It is important to let students know that similarity analysis might take “up to 24 hours” according to the TurnItIn website, so they plan their work accordingly. I’ve tested couple of my own papers that varied from 10-15 pages in lengths, and it took about 30-45 minutes to produce similarity report (Fortunately, I was satisfied with the results of the test)
Report that is produced by the TurnItIn is comprehensive and easy to interpret.
I think TurnItIn is a great online tool that helps students in the process of the revision while providing comprehensive feedback in supportive environment. It checks for potential plagiarism and helps in #MasteryLearning.
Many of you will be interested on copyrights of the papers and how they are used once they are submitted to TurnItIn for review, I think it is a valid question. You can find some of the answers to your questions on Legal FAQs page and decide on your own if it worth a try.
If you are interested in researching other tools on detecting plagiarism please visit
Article that addresses Academic Integrity in context of Contractual Cheating from International Center for Academic Integrity (2016).
last update September 28, 2018