/ How Does Turnitin Check for Plagiarism?

How Does Turnitin Check for Plagiarism?

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Manish Jindal

March 27, 2024


0min read

How Does Turnitin Check for Plagiarism?

Key Takeaways:

  • Turnitin checks submissions against a massive database to highlight potential plagiarism, but instructors make the final call.
  • By revealing similar content, it encourages students to develop critical thinking and proper citation skills.
  • It compares submitted work to webpages, past assignments, and academic sources to find similar content.

In the academic world, “How does Turnitin check for plagiarism?” is a question that underscores the importance of academic integrity and genuine learning.

Turnitin, a renowned ‘text-matching’ software, scrutinises submissions against a massive database, employing similarity detection tools to highlight common issues related to plagiarism.

This process is not just about flagging copied content; it’s about educating students on the significance of originality and critical thinking skills throughout the entire writing process.

A lack of knowledge can lead to unintentional plagiarism, but through Turnitin’s academic integrity checks, students are guided towards understanding the value of their unique contributions to their field of study.

What is Turnitin Tool?

Turnitin is a widely used plagiarism detection tool that serves educators, students, and institutions by helping to identify and prevent academic dishonesty.

It compares submitted documents against an extensive database of academic works, web pages, books, and journals to detect similarities and potential instances of plagiarism.

Turnitin’s sophisticated algorithms analyse the text for matching phrases, sentences, or longer passages to provide a similarity report, which highlights the portions of the text that may need further review or citation.

Beyond its core function of plagiarism detection, Turnitin offers features designed to support the educational process, including grading tools, peer review functionalities, and feedback mechanisms to facilitate constructive dialogue between students and instructors.

By promoting originality and helping to uphold academic integrity, Turnitin plays a crucial role in educational settings, encouraging students to develop their writing skills and understand the importance of citing sources properly.

Can Turnitin Detect Plagiarism?

Turnitin does not directly detect plagiarism in the traditional sense of identifying stolen or improperly attributed work.

Instead, it identifies similarities between a student’s submission and existing texts within its extensive database, which includes internet pages, previously submitted assignments, and a vast collection of academic publications and journals.

Turnitin generates an Originality Report that highlights these similarities, showing both the percentage of the text that matches other sources and where those matches are found.

The responsibility of determining whether these similarities constitute plagiarism rests with the educators or reviewers.

They must interpret the Originality Report, considering the context and the nature of the matched content, to decide if the similarities are due to common knowledge, properly cited references, or potential plagiarism.

Thus, while Turnitin is a powerful tool for highlighting potential plagiarism, the final judgment on whether plagiarism has occurred lies with the human reviewer.

Useful Resource: Is Turnitin Plagiarism Checker Accurate?

How Does Turnitin Check for Plagiarism?

Turnitin operates by comparing a student’s work with a vast database that includes web pages, online data, a collection of papers previously submitted to Turnitin, and a subscription-based collection of scholarly articles, journals, and publications.

Following this comparison, Turnitin generates an ‘Originality Report.’

This ‘Originality Report’ highlights instances where the content of a student’s work overlaps with material from other sources. It displays an overall ‘similarity index’—a percentage that represents the extent of text in the submission that matches text from other sources.

Additionally, it offers a detailed analysis showing which parts of the submission correspond to specific sources, such as websites, academic journals, or earlier student submissions.

It’s crucial to understand that Turnitin itself does not identify plagiarism; rather, it identifies text in a student’s assignment that is similar to text found in other sources, such as the internet, academic journals, or databases of student papers.

Proper interpretation of these findings by both instructors and students is vital for Turnitin to be effectively utilised.


Turnitin’s plagiarism checker operates by comparing submissions to an extensive archive of Internet documents and a collection of documents, including previous submissions.

It use artificial intelligence to generate a similarity score, indicating the extent of text overlap with existing intellectual property. This process not only identifies potential plagiarism issues but also serves as a teachable moment for addressing unintentional plagiarism.

By understanding the basis of knowledge and subject matter, students can learn to respect intellectual property rights, improving their work in future submissions. For a comprehensive analysis, consider using Bytescare plagiarism checker tool. For more information, please contact us.


Does Turnitin check for plagiarism?

Yes, Turnitin is designed to check for similarities between submitted assignments and its extensive database of academic papers, websites, books, and journals.

It identifies matches that may indicate plagiarism but does not label an assignment as plagiarised; educators make the final determination.

How does Turnitin calculate plagiarism?

Turnitin calculates what it calls a similarity score, which reflects the percentage of text in a submission that matches sources in its database.

This score helps educators assess the extent of matched content. However, Turnitin itself does not determine plagiarism; it merely highlights similarities for further review.

How to use Turnitin as a student?

Students typically use Turnitin through an integration in their institution’s learning management system (LMS). When submitting an assignment, you may be directed to upload your document to Turnitin via an assignment link.

Some institutions also allow students to submit drafts to Turnitin independently, enabling them to check their work for potential similarities before the final submission.

How can I avoid a high Turnitin score?

To avoid a high similarity score on Turnitin:

a. Ensure you properly cite all sources of information.
b. Paraphrase effectively, ensuring you’re not just altering a few words from the original text.
c. Use quotations for direct quotes and reference them correctly.
d. Develop your original analysis and insights, reducing the reliance on sourced content.
e. Familiarise yourself with your institution’s definition of plagiarism and Turnitin’s guidelines.

What databases does Turnitin compare submissions to?

Turnitin’s database includes a vast collection of academic journals, books, internet pages, and previously submitted papers across numerous institutions worldwide.

Does Turnitin check against previous student submissions?

Yes, one of Turnitin’s key features is its ability to compare new submissions against a repository of previous submissions to identify potential plagiarism.

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