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Education is Built on Trust: New Solutions for New Challenges

Introducing Turnitin Originality

Gretchen Hanson
Gretchen Hanson






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When a student graduates and takes their diploma out into the world, there’s an inherent trust in what that credential means. It means the student did the work themselves. It means they achieved certain levels of learning outcomes. It means the deans, instructors, and overall institution certify the achievement. This trust is built little by little, across every test, paper, and project that the student completes. That foundation of integrity builds our confidence in the value of their degree. In sum, a student’s education and their ability to leverage that education to meet their academic or professional goals is built on trust developed through each assessment.

Protecting that trust is vital, particularly when new challenges arise to make academic misconduct easy to engage, difficult to detect, and time-consuming to address.

New (and old) Challenges for Educators

Education has had a challenging year as instructors make the challenging shift to online or hybrid courses. Instructors have had to scramble to modify assessment delivery and evaluation and learn new ways to address environmental challenges. This is not an easy job, given educators were already short on time and drowning in grading, providing feedback, dealing with behavioral problems in the classroom, and more. Given these challenges, it’s natural that most instructors may not be informed on the newest academic misconduct techniques.

Unfortunately, over the last few years, we’ve seen the methods and sophistication of misconduct evolve from simple copy/paste plagiarism to more sophisticated techniques such as complex text manipulation, synonyms substitutions, patchwork or mosaic construction, contract cheating or farming work to essay mills and even AI technology bots that will do the writing. This is a space that is evolving quickly, and it’s nearly impossible to keep up.

And these new challenges can violate trust in student achievements and an institution’s academic reputation.

New Solutions for Everyone at Your Institution

Instructors are not the only ones who struggle with identifying and addressing academic integrity. Students need help understanding the skills of proper source evaluation and citation as well as knowing when they might unknowingly be tipping into more serious integrity issues when asking friends, parents, or companies to help. Institutional leaders and administrators also need help understanding the scope of issues, potential risk of misconduct cases, and how to address them.

To that end, Turnitin aims to provide solutions that fit the unique needs of students, instructors, and administrators with the right insight and guidance at the right time and at the right level.

Introducing Turnitin Originality

Building off of Turnitin’s 20-year heritage of identifying text similarity, Turnitin Originality is the solution that addresses emerging trends in academic misconduct while providing the right guidance and insight for students, instructors, and administrators. It is the new standard in academic integrity for the new challenges educators face.

Students can use Turnitin Draft Coach as a low-stakes way to access real-time feedback on text similarity and citations. While using Google Docs, students can run similarity reports and identify varying styles or missing citations.

In addition to the powerful and flexible text similarity reports with which instructors are familiar, Originality includes two new insight panels to help focus additional information that instructors can use. The first is the flags panel, which identifies any text manipulations meant to circumvent similarity checking. For example, Turnitin Originality detects white text or characters replaced with non-Latin characters. The flags panel highlights these instances to provide helpful guidance in working with students to maintain integrity in their writing.

The second insight available for instructors provides deep document metadata to reveal the origin of the document. Understanding the number of authors, British/American spelling inconsistencies or irregular font usage can help support concerns about the originality of the paper that the instructor might have before choosing to escalate or report the case.

Finally, for administrators, understanding the level of risk for contract cheating cases is an important way to uphold an institution’s academic reputation. An easy-to-use dashboard helps identify student submissions that have a high potential for contract cheating, prioritizes risk level, and leads to detailed reports and analysis that can be used immediately for further investigation. Additionally, earlier indications of struggling students can help educators facilitate such students on a positive path and ultimately toward successful graduation.

Turnitin Originality will continue to evolve to address misconduct issues as they take hold, and provide useful data to help students, instructors, and administrators understand how they can quickly and effectively keep integrity at the core of education. By helping students with formative feedback opportunities, educators with new insights, and administrators with data, Turnitin Originality upholds a new standard in academic integrity. And in this series on Originality features, we hope to help you with your pedagogical journey.