Turnitin is an essential tool Australian universities use to maintain academic integrity and uphold the standards of originality in student submissions. It is an online plagiarism detection service designed to analyse and compare submitted assignments against an extensive database of academic content, including publications, student papers, and internet sources.

In brief, Turnitin can be used:

  • to detect plagiarism in submitted work.
  • to receive feedback before submitting your final assessment. Sometimes, you can submit a draft of your work, check with your lecturer or tutor to see if this is an option in your unit.
  • to go over what may or may not be considered plagiarism. Turnitin will produce a colour-coded similarity report that reflects the proportion of matching text in the submitted work compared to the Turnitin database.

Why is it used

The primary purpose of Turnitin is to discourage and detect plagiarism, ensuring that students submit original work and adhere to ethical writing practices. Using advanced algorithms, Turnitin identifies similarities between a student’s assignment and existing sources, helping to evaluate the authenticity of the submitted work. This protects the academic community’s commitment to intellectual honesty and fosters a culture of originality and critical thinking.

Similarity reports

The similarity report made by Turnitin will feature an overall percentage and a colour. The percentage at the top of the report represents the overall similarity and reflects the proportion of matching text found in your assignment compared to the content in the Turnitin database. The colours you might see, and what they mean, are:

  • Blue – no plagiarism found as all sources have been integrated as direct quotes and/or are properly cited.
  • Green – common phrases or expressions have been found. This may not indicate plagiarism but suggests that common language was used.
  • Yellow – a moderate level of similarity has been identified, which may be due to a large amount of paraphrased material.
  • Orange and red – high levels of similarity have been detected, and further investigation may be needed. Usually this indicates the presence of improperly cited content.

Watch this video for more information.

You should interpret the similarity report thoughtfully. While a high percentage may look concerning, it does not necessarily indicate plagiarism. You should carefully review the report, assess each match, and ensure proper citation and referencing to maintain academic integrity.

Draft submissions

Turnitin not only serves as a plagiarism detection tool, but also provides valuable feedback to students. When you submit an assignment through Turnitin, you’ll receive a similarity report highlighting any matches found in the database. This report allows you to review and understand the sources of potential similarity, aiding in proper citation and referencing.

Many units may allow you to submit a draft to Turnitin before the final submission of your work. You will then be given a similarity report for your draft, which you can use to address any potential issues. You should check Blackboard and ask your lecturer or tutor before submitting a draft, as there may be a separate Turnitin submission point for this purpose.

For more information, visit the Turnitin help page.