Preventing plagiarism (Turnitin)

How does Turnitin work?

Turnitin works by comparing student assignments to Internet content, journal databases and a global database of student assignments. Turnitin uses advanced pattern-making technology to identify similar passages of text in submitted documents. The system returns originality reports that provide details of the similarity found. Turnitin works by comparing submitted documents against proprietary databases, containing millions of books and journals and over six billion pages of the current and archived internet.

What does Turnitin do?

The results are returned in the form of customised Originality Reports, in which any text matches found are highlighted and linked to their source. The reports allow students and teaching staff to interpret similarity matches and determine whether any potential plagiarism has occurred.

Turnitin does not...

Form conclusions about whether plagiarism has occurred or not. Turnitin only returns a percentage similarity percentage and links to those sources where similarity is detected. The Unit Coordinator will determine (in accordance with FedUni's Student Plagiarism Policy) whether any plagiarism has occurred.

When should Turnitin be used?

Staff should carefully decide if using Turnitin is appropriate to the course and assessment task being contemplated. Be mindful of the limitations of Turnitin, and consider if you can modify the assessment task to make better use of the system, or whether the nature of the assessment negates the usefulness of Turnitin. For more information, refer to the Guidance Note for the use of Plagiarism Prevention and Detection Software.

Staff responsibilities

Staff responsibilities for the use of Turnitin and plagiarism at Federation University Australia are stipulated in the Student Plagiarism Policy and Guideline for the use of Plagiarism Prevention and Detection Software. This policy is currently under review, which includes the addition of specific responsibilities for staff in relation to academic integrity and Turnitin use. These may include:

  • Know and consistently implement the legislation, policy, procedures and guidelines of the University concerning plagiarism;
  • Teach and provide information to students about referencing requirements that are relevant to the discipline area;
  • Provide information to students in the course/unit description about which referencing techniques are to be used from the General Guide for the Presentation of Academic Work and any discipline specific or technical referencing system that may be required;
  • Informing and teaching students as to the definition of plagiarism and why it is unacceptable academic practice. Educate students in how to avoid plagiarism;
  • Ensure that students understand the difference between cooperative learning, group work and collusion;
  • Be vigilant and consistent in the identification of possible plagiarism;
  • Where appropriate, use plagiarism prevention and detection software in assessment tasks;
  • Change assessment tasks often to prevent resubmission of old assignments;
  • Be aware of, and respect, the practices of other cultures / cultural backgrounds;
  • Provide transparent and consistent feedback to students about issues relating to referencing;
  • Take all reasonable precautions for the security of all student work within their keeping;
  • Staff should set a good example through using appropriate referencing of sources and ideas in their own teaching and research practices; and
  • Set an expectation as to what constitutes a reasonable amount of referenced unoriginal material that may be included in student assignments.

Getting started

Turnitin is available in Moodle under the Study Help drop down in the top navigation panel.

Common questions

Can I deviate from the standard configuration?

  • In certain circumstances yes, however you should ensure you remain compliant with FedUni's Plagiarism Policy and Guidance for Turnitin use. 
  • Students must be permitted to view their originality reports and be given opportunity to resubmit assignments before the due date.

Why do I need the disclaimer?

  • Students should be afforded the opportunity to waive their copyright for the purpose of submitting the assignment to Turnitin's database for checking and allowing it to reside on this database for future comparison.
  • Unit coordinators may also choose to have students sign a school specific cover sheet containing the copyright waiver when submitting a hardcopy of their assignment.

Disclaimer text

By enrolling in this course of study you acknowledge that your assignments will be original and have not been submitted for assessment elsewhere. You also acknowledge that the assessment of any assignment may involve:

  • reproduction and provision of a copy of this assignment to another member of staff or an external moderator; and/or
  • communication of this assignment to a plagiarism checking service (which may then retain a copy of the assignment on its database for the purpose of future plagiarism checking).

Having problems?

Contact the Service Desk