FAQs

Product FAQs

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is the global leader in evaluating student work. The company’s cloud-based service for originality checking, online grading and peer review saves instructors time and provides rich feedback to students. One of the most widely distributed educational applications in the world, Turnitin is used by more than 10,000 institutions in 135 countries to manage the submission, tracking and evaluation of student work online.

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 the student’s work to Turnitin via file upload or cut-and-paste. Turnitin consists of three core functions: checking originality, grading online and conducting peer reviews.

When checking originality, Turnitin compares the submission’s text to a vast database of 45+ billion pages of digital content (including archived Internet content that is no longer available), over 337 million submissions in the student archive, and 130,000+ professional, academic and commercial journals and publications. The software is regularly updated with new content acquired through new partnerships. For example, Turnitin 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 work in an institution-only private zone.

Once assured of the submission’s originality, instructors grade online to provide rich feedback using drag-and-drop marks, voice comments, and rubrics. ETS® e-rater® technology is integrated with Turnitin to identify spelling, grammar, mechanics, usage and style errors so instructors can focus on providing more substantive feedback. Instructors can track student views of the graded work, customize and share comments and rubrics, track grades using a grade book, and assess students over time.

Peer Review facilitates the management of peer review exercises so students can evaluate and learn from one another’s work. It automates distribution, allows for anonymous reviews, and provides standard or customizable assessment questions.

Simultaneously layering the feedback from these three tools onto the student work provides both the instructor and student with a comprehensive view and deeper insight.

e-rater, ETS and the ETS logo are registered trademarks of Educational Testing Service (ETS), and used under license.

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 1.6 million), number of students under license (more than 24 million), number of student papers historically processed (more than 337 million), number of institutional licensees (more than 10,000), and number of countries where Turnitin is used (135).

Is Turnitin only used by writing instructors?

No, Turnitin is used across all disciplines. About 51 percent of Turnitin instructors teach subjects other than English, writing, composition, or communications. And with our Grade Anything℠ initiative, any instructor in any discipline can use Turnitin to check originality, grade online and facilitate peer review.

Who can see the student's submission?

Only the course instructor—and possibly a TA assigned to the course—can see a student's work. If a match is found between the student's submission and another student's submission, the instructor can request the matching submission from that student's instructor. The instructors decide whether to share the matching work depending on the circumstances and school policy.

An exception to this rule is made for peer review assignments. Students using PeerMark are allowed to view the text of the work they are assigned to review from within the context of the peer review assignment, though the instructor can choose to distribute the works anonymously.

Does Turnitin integrate with course and lesson management systems?

Turnitin works with numerous LMS/CMS products including Blackboard (including WebCT and ANGEL), Moodle and Desire2Learn. View a complete list of integrations

Does Turnitin offer support and training for its service?

Turnitin offers live web conferences for orientation and training. Additionally, we have live product specialists available to take phone calls, answer questions and walk through any challenges. No other vendor offers this level of support.

Turnitin also offers free, live, online professional support webinars through the Turnitin Academy that help instructors integrate all of our services with their classroom teaching. Users can connect, share and learn through activities offered in the Turnitin Community.

Is Turnitin available in multiple languages?

Turnitin is a global company that does business across the world. Turnitin currently offers interfaces and content matching for checking originality and online grading in English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Arabic, Polish, Russian, Romanian and Vietnamese. The vision of Turnitin is to make the process of evaluating and grading assignments completely paperless, and give faculty worldwide more time and energy to do what they do best—teach students.


Plagiarism FAQs

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 to perpetrate 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 support this. 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 2011 study by Pew Research found that 55% of college presidents believe that plagiarism has increased, with 89% saying the Internet has played a major role.

For study results on Internet sources used by secondary and higher education students, watch the 30-minute webcast, Plagiarism and the Web: Revisited or read the white paper, Plagiarism and the Web: A Comparison of Web Sources for Higher and Secondary Education Students.

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.

Are there different degrees of plagiarism?

Yes. Incidents range from blatant to subtle and 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 to help sensitize students to issues of academic integrity and proper citation. Turnitin can be used as an instructional support tool to show students examples of plagiarism in their work and how to avoid problems the future. To see samples of the various types of plagiarism read The Plagiarism Spectrum: Instructor Insights into the 10 Types of Plagiarism.

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 International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) helps colleges and universities share and establish best practices in this area.

How can educators most effectively teach students about plagiarism?

In our experience, it is not enough to simply define plagiarism for students. It is more effective to help them understand plagiarism in the context of their own writing. Turnitin offers professional development seminars through the Turnitin Academy for educators to learn 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.

Should educators design assignments that are difficult to plagiarize?

Some educators attempt to solve the plagiarism problem by designing assignments that are “plagiarism-proof.” For example, rather than assign a research report about icebergs (which is easy to cut and paste from web sources), a teacher might ask students 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. For more information, watch the 30-minute webcast on The Plagiarism Proof Thesis with Myrtice Rowe, an AVID Coordinator at the Orange County Department of Education.

Instructors can also break assignments into a series of drafts and require students to submit those drafts, avoiding the “last minute” syndrome that can lead to students copying a paper from elsewhere.

However, 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.

Why do students plagiarize?

Many factors can trigger plagiarism: pressure, disorganization, poor study habits, our “cut-and-paste” culture, or a lack of understanding on the seriousness of plagiarism. And as instructors have told us repeatedly, many students just don't understand that their actions constitute plagiarism. They may know that plagiarizing is wrong but don't realize that they are actually committing it. For more insight on this issue, watch the 30-minute webcast on Why Students Plagiarize with Jason M. Stephens, an expert on academic motivation, moral judgment, self-regulation, and cheating behavior among secondary and post-secondary students.

How can educators and parents deal with issues around plagiarism and help students avoid trouble?

Adults must articulate clear rules regarding the use and proper attribution of unoriginal content and ideas in a student’s 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 point out areas where plagiarism is an issue and how to avoid it. Turnitin focuses on delivering that essential feedback throughout the writing process so students can express themselves originally, confidently and competently.

Where can I learn more about plagiarism and Turnitin?

Visit plagiarism.org or the Turnitin website page for more information. To speak with a Turnitin representative call 510.764.7600 or send an email request to sales@turnitin.com.

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