Turnitin is an Internet-based plagiarism-prevention service created by iParadigms, LLC. Papers written by students are submitted to Turnitin, which checks the documents for unoriginal content. The results can be used to identify similarities to existing sources or can be used in formative assessment to help students learn how to avoid plagiarism and improve their writing.
Faculty and Student Use of Turnitin
The Turnitin service has the potential to be an important resource for promoting information literacy as well as encouraging academic integrity. All Creighton instructors (faculty, adjunct faculty, and other instructors and professional staff) have the option to create Turnitin assignements within BlueLine for graded or non-graded written assignments in his or her classes.
Training for the use of Turnitin is available on the Virtual Center for Teaching and Learning web site at www.creighton.edu/cte/teaching-and-learning/video-archive.
Protecting Student Privacy
The Turnitin Legal FAQ page (http://turnitin.com/en_us/privacy-center/legal-faqs) provides information about the use of Turnitin and student privacy.
Students are notified that a paper will be reviewed by Turnitin prior to submitting the paper through BlueLine. Prior to submitting a paper through BlueLine students are presented with the following statement which has been reviewed by Creighton University General Counsel.
“Students agree that by checking this box all submitted papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of the Turnitin.com service is subject to the Usage Policy posted on the Turnitin.com site. Students retain the copyright of papers submitted to the Turnitin service. The Turnitin user agreement entitles iParadigms to use the works as part of the plagiarism prevention system under the principles of fair use.”
When an instructor intends to use the Turnitin service to review some or all of student written work, a "best practice" to promote academic integrity is to notify students about the use of Turnitin in a statement included in the course syllabus. Instructors are also encouraged to remind students of the potential review of student work based on a Turnitin report or other technology when they discuss course assignments.
Instructors may use the following language as a Turnitin notice on their syllabus:
"Creighton University maintains a university license agreement for an online text matching service called Turnitin. At my discretion, I may use the Turnitin service to evaluate the originality of student papers. I may employ other services and techniques to evaluate your work for evidence of appropriate authorship practices as needed."
Evaluating Originality Reports
When a paper or excerpt is submitted to Turnitin, an originality report is created. This report tells the instructor what percentage of text strings in the paper match text strings in other sources found in the Turnitin database. The originality report provides links to all sources of matching text strings to enable the instructor to review and evaluate the suspected content. Instructors should evaluate the quality of the originality report and use their professional judgment to determine if the similarities identified represent plagiarized text. The originality report shows all matches, even those in which students may have cited the text properly. Faculty should examine the identified text to determine whether plagiarism has occurred.
What should instructors do if they suspect that a student has engaged in plagiarism?
Turnitin is a powerful search tool for detecting common text strings in multiple documents, but is has its limitations. Instructors are encouraged to make informed use of Turnitin when evaluating reports for "false positives." Turnitin will report text matches for properly marked quotations, bibliographic citations, and small text matches, but instructors have the option to filter out such text matches to get a more reliable originality report. They should also be aware that Turnitin may not detect all problematic text (e.g., matches to text in print sources or online content publishers and databases that may not be included in the TurnItIn database) and not rely solely on Turnitin to detect authorship problems. When plagiarism is suspected, instructors should consult the Academic Misconduct policy for their college/school/program for guidance on procedures to follow when documenting and reporting a case of suspected academic misconduct.
Student Use of Turnitin
Turnitin has the potential to be a positive instructional tool for teaching students about academic integrity and plagiarism. Instructors can create the ability for students to upload their papers into Turnitin and run their own originality reports.
Resources and Support
The Turnitin website has a variety of resources to assist with the use of Turnitin http://turnitin.com/en_us/training/professional-development.
Resources: The Resources tab includes White Papers, Webcasts, and Research on the use of Turnitin.
Training: The Training tab includes:
Getting Started – the basics of using Turnitin
Instructor Training – information to help instructors get started quickly and develop deeper skills through continued use
Student Training - show you the basics of getting set-up and enrolled in Turnitin with your class.
Professional Development – provides a variety of on-demand sessions for using Turnitin, including best practices for teaching with Turnitin.