/ Does Turnitin Check for Self-Plagiarism?

Does Turnitin Check for Self-Plagiarism?

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Manish Jindal

March 4, 2024


0min read

Does Turnitin Check for Self-Plagiarism?

Key Takeaways:

  • Turnitin checks for self-plagiarism. It compares submissions to a vast database, including student papers, making resubmitting work or large portions of it likely to be flagged.
  • Self-plagiarism impacts academic integrity: It violates originality, hinders learning, and is unfair to other students.
  • Strategies to avoid self-plagiarism: Cite your own work, paraphrase and synthesize ideas, and secure permission for reuse when necessary.
  • Turnitin upholds copyright law. It detects similarities to published works and helps navigate copyright exceptions.

Turnitin is a widely used plagiarism detection tool employed by many academic institutions. While it’s a powerful tool, understanding its limitations is crucial. One key question students have is: does Turnitin check for self-plagiarism?

This article gives you useful insight into the core topic, exploring the concept of self-plagiarism, its impact, and Turnitin’s capabilities.

What is Self-Plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism, also known as duplicate publication or text recycling, occurs when an individual presents their previously published work as new without acknowledgment.

It involves reusing one’s own ideas, data, or written content in subsequent publications without appropriate citation.

This can happen in various contexts, such as academic writing, research publications, and professional projects.

While self-plagiarism may not involve stealing from others, it undermines the principles of academic honesty and transparency.

Here are some examples of self-plagiarism:

  • Resubmitting an Entire Paper: Handing in the same paper from a previous academic year for a current class.
  • Copying or Paraphrasing Passages: Reusing sections or paragraphs from previously submitted work without proper citation.
  • Recycling Previously Collected Data: Using a dataset from a prior study without acknowledging it.
  • Separately Publishing Multiple Articles: Submitting similar papers about the same research to different journals.

Can a Student Self-Plagiarise?

Absolutely. Students are not exempt from the perils of self-plagiarism.

Whether it’s submitting a previous assignment for a different course or recycling sections of an earlier essay, students can inadvertently fall into the trap of self-plagiarism.

It’s essential for students to understand the ethical boundaries of academic writing and strive for originality in their submissions.

How Does Self-Plagiarism Impact Academic Integrity?

Self-plagiarism significantly undermines academic integrity in several key ways:

1. Violates Principles of Originality and Honesty

Academic integrity is founded on the principles of producing original work and being honest in how that work is presented.

Self-plagiarism contravenes these principles by passing off old work as new, misleading instructors and peers about the nature of the contribution and the effort involved.

2. Undermines the Learning Process

The educational process is designed to encourage learning, critical thinking, and the development of new skills.

When students engage in self-plagiarism, they bypass these learning opportunities, depriving themselves of the chance to deepen their understanding and expertise in their field of study.

3. Compromises Fairness Among Students

Self-plagiarism creates an uneven playing field, where students who recycle their previous work may gain an undue advantage over their peers who invest time and effort in creating new, original submissions for each assignment.

This unfairness can demoralise students who adhere to ethical standards and distort the evaluation process.

4. Erodes Trust in the Academic System

Trust is a cornerstone of the academic community, relying on the assumption that all members engage in and promote honest and ethical scholarship.

Self-plagiarism erodes this trust, casting doubt on the integrity of the academic work produced and potentially tarnishing the reputation of the institution.

5. Devalues Academic Credentials

Academic credentials serve as a testament to the holder’s knowledge, skills, and contributions to their field.

When those credentials are obtained in part through self-plagiarism, it calls into question the validity of the achievements and can devalue the worth of academic qualifications for everyone associated with the institution.

Does Turnitin Check for Self-Plagiarism?

Turnitin is capable of detecting self-plagiarism. It does this by comparing your submission not only with internet sources like websites, publications, journals, blogs, and online newspapers but also against its extensive database of student papers, including those you or others have submitted.

As a result, if you attempt to resubmit a paper or portions of it, Turnitin’s system is likely to flag this as self-plagiarism.

It’s important to note that once your work is submitted through Turnitin, it becomes part of the platform’s vast database indefinitely.

Consequently, any attempt to submit the same document or parts of it again will trigger Turnitin’s algorithms to recognise and match the text to your previous submission.

The platform’s sophisticated algorithms are designed to identify matching sequences of text, similar phrases, and sentence structures in the new submission compared to the one already stored.

Upon reviewing the similarity report generated by Turnitin, it becomes evident to anyone, including your instructor, if you have engaged in self-plagiarism.

Based on this evidence, your instructor may then proceed with disciplinary actions in accordance with your institution’s academic integrity policies.

How to Avoid Self-Plagiarism

Avoiding self-plagiarism is crucial to uphold the integrity of academic work and respect for intellectual property.

Here are refined strategies incorporating the specified terms to help maintain originality and adhere to academic standards:

  • Acknowledge Intellectual Property: When reusing content from your previous papers, it’s essential to cite your work properly. This not only avoids copyright infringement but also respects the intellectual property rights associated with your original contribution.
  • Paraphrase and Synthesise Previous Ideas: To prevent instances of plagiarism, including self-plagiarism, strive to paraphrase and synthesise ideas from your past work. This approach helps in creating a new piece of writing that builds upon your previous papers while ensuring the content remains fresh and original.
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  • Secure Permissions for Reuse: In cases where significant duplication of content from your previous publications is unavoidable, obtaining permission from the original publisher is crucial. This step is necessary to avoid violating copyright laws and ensures that copyright protection norms are respected.
  • Use Direct Quotations Judiciously: On occasions where exact phrases or sentences from your earlier work are indispensable, use them sparingly and always within quotation marks. This practice helps minimise the degree of similarity between your current and past work, aligning with academic standards for originality.
  • Disclose Recycled Content: Transparency about the extent of recycled content is vital. When submitting a new publication, disclose any overlap with your prior work to the editors and readers. This honesty helps in managing expectations regarding the originality and intellectual contribution of your work.
  • Understand Different Types of Plagiarism: Familiarise yourself with various types of plagiarism, including accidental plagiarism. This knowledge can help you navigate the complexities of academic writing more effectively, ensuring that your work adheres to the highest standards of academic integrity.
  • Leverage Accurate Plagiarism Scanners: Utilise an accurate plagiarism scanner to check your work for any unintentional duplication of content. These tools are instrumental in identifying instances of plagiarism, allowing you to make necessary adjustments before submission.

By implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce the risk of self-plagiarism and contribute to a culture of respect for copyright and academic integrity.

It’s about ensuring that each piece of writing not only meets the required academic standards but also represents a genuine, original contribution to the field.


Turnitin’s sophisticated plagiarism detection system effectively checks for self-plagiarism by scanning for duplication of ideas and examining each document for similarities against its extensive database of content, including content from books, academic papers, and a vast bank of ideas.

Through the detection of similarities, Turnitin upholds elements of copyright law, ensuring that the original copyright holder’s work is respected while also navigating copyright exceptions with precision.

For those seeking alternative options, Bytescare offers a plagiarism detector that provides another layer of analysis, ensuring your work is original and free from unintended duplication.

For more information on safeguarding your academic integrity and ensuring your work respects copyright laws, contact us to explore how our plagiarism detection solutions can support your needs.


Can I reuse my own assignments for different courses?

While it may seem convenient, reusing your own assignments for different courses without permission or acknowledgment constitutes self-plagiarism.

It’s advisable to consult with your instructors or academic advisors regarding the acceptability of repurposing your previous work.

Does self-plagiarism apply to unpublished manuscripts?

Yes, self-plagiarism applies to unpublished manuscripts as well.

Even if the work has not been disseminated publicly, recycling significant portions of unpublished material without proper citation is considered unethical and may raise concerns about intellectual honesty.

Is there a difference between self-plagiarism and duplicate publication?

While self-plagiarism and duplicate publication are often used interchangeably, there’s a subtle distinction between the two.

Self-plagiarism involves reusing one’s own work without acknowledgment, whereas duplicate publication refers to submitting the same manuscript or substantial parts of it to multiple publications without disclosure.

Both practices undermine academic integrity and should be avoided.

Does Turnitin detect plagiarism from your own work?

Yes, Turnitin can detect plagiarism from your own work, a practice known as self-plagiarism. When you submit a document, Turnitin compares it against its extensive database, which includes previously submitted papers, published works, and internet sources.

If your new submission significantly matches parts of your previously submitted work, Turnitin’s report will highlight these similarities. This capability is crucial for identifying instances where content has been reused without proper citation or permission.

Does self-plagiarism count as plagiarism?

Yes, self-plagiarism is considered a form of plagiarism. Although it involves reusing one’s own previously created work rather than someone else’s, it still misrepresents the originality of the submission.

In academic and professional contexts, self-plagiarism violates ethical guidelines because it bypasses the expectation of presenting new, original work for each assignment, publication, or project.

How much self-plagiarism is accepted?

Generally, the acceptance level of self-plagiarism is very low to none in most academic and professional settings.

The expectation is that each piece of work should be original and created specifically for the current context.

However, the specific tolerance for self-plagiarism can vary depending on institutional policies, publication guidelines, or the discretion of instructors and editors.

In some cases, reusing small amounts of one’s own work with proper citation and disclosure may be permissible, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Always consult the relevant guidelines or authorities to understand the acceptable practices within your specific context.

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