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How to Check Plagiarism in Turnitin?

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Manish Jindal

April 10, 2024

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How to Check Plagiarism in Turnitin?

Key Takeaways:

  • Turnitin plagiarism-detection software uses a large database to compare student work to published materials and webpages. It detects plagiarism and generates a similarity score for evaluation.
  • Turnitin uses a color-coded percentage to show how similar two pieces of content are. 
  • Some strategies for reducing similarity include using your own voice while writing, properly citing and paraphrasing sources, reviewing the Turnitin report, and proofreading your work.

Plagiarism is a critical concern in academic and professional settings, compromising the integrity of educational achievements and scholarly works.

Turnitin, a leading plagiarism detection tool, is pivotal in identifying and preventing plagiarism by comparing submissions against an extensive database of academic works, websites, and publications.

This blog post offers a comprehensive guide on how to check plagiarism in Turnitin, ensuring your work maintains its originality and adheres to ethical standards.

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a comprehensive tool used in academia to maintain the integrity of scholarly work. It’s not just a plagiarism detector, but a sophisticated software that scrutinises student submissions for similarities.

It compares each document for similarities with a vast database of academic papers, articles, books, and websites.

When Turnitin detects matches between the submission and any document in its database, it flags these instances for review. This process, known as comprehensive similarity detection, allows educators to identify potential instances of plagiarism. They can then assess whether these matches are properly cited or if they constitute plagiarism.

Turnitin is also an invaluable resource for students. It helps them understand the importance of originality in their work and provides them with the opportunity to improve their citation practices. This contributes to creating an optimal learning space.

The goal of Turnitin is not to catch students in the act of plagiarising, but to educate them on how to avoid it. It’s a tool for fostering good academic practices and promoting original, authentic work. It’s not just about assessments for students, but about nurturing a culture of integrity and authenticity in academia.

How to Check Plagiarism in Turnitin?

To use Turnitin, you typically need to be part of an educational institution that subscribes to the service.

Here’s a simplified guide on how to use it:

  1. Create an Account: First, you need to sign up on the Turnitin website. This will give you access to the platform where you can submit your work.
  2. Navigate to the Assignment: Once you’re logged in, you’ll find a list of assignments on your student homepage. Choose the assignment you want to submit to.
  3. Upload Your Work: Click on the chosen assignment and you’ll be prompted to upload your work. You can upload files in specific formats like docx or pdf. After selecting your file, click ‘Upload’.
  4. Verify Your Submission: After uploading, you’ll have a chance to verify that the correct document has been uploaded. Once you’ve confirmed, finalise your submission.
  5. Review the Similarity Report: After your work has been submitted, Turnitin will generate a Similarity Report. This report shows how much of your work matches other sources in Turnitin’s database. You can view this report by clicking on the Originality Report icon next to your assignment.

Remember, Turnitin doesn’t detect plagiarism per se. It simply highlights similarities between your work and other sources.

It’s up to your instructor to review these similarities and determine if they constitute plagiarism. So, it’s always a good practice to properly cite your sources and strive for originality in your work.

What Your Similarity Score Means?

In Turnitin, the similarity score is represented by a percentage and a corresponding color code. Here’s what they mean:

  • Blue (0% matching text): This means there’s no matching text found. Your work is completely original or the matched phrases are too small to be flagged.
  • Green (1-24% matching text): This is generally an acceptable range. It could indicate small matches like common phrases or properly cited references.
  • Yellow (25-49% matching text): This is a moderate similarity score. It might be acceptable depending on the nature of the assignment and the matched content. It’s a good idea to review your work to ensure proper citations.
  • Orange (50-74% matching text): This is a high similarity score and could be a cause for concern. It’s recommended to review your work thoroughly for potential plagiarism issues.
  • Red (75-100% matching text): This is a very high similarity score and is likely unacceptable in most academic settings. It indicates that a large portion of the text matches other sources.

Acceptable Plagiarism Percentage

In the academic sphere, no uniform rule dictates the threshold of similarity acceptable in scholarly work, as the norm can differ from one institution to another.

Typically, a similarity index above 25%—denoted by Yellow, Orange, and Red in Turnitin reports—demands attention.

The “Similarity Index” should not be misconstrued as a direct measure of plagiarism, meaning neither a 0% (indicating no match) nor a 75% (indicating high similarity) conclusively determines the paper’s integrity. Such reports are fundamentally diagnostic tools intended to identify potential plagiarism or inaccurately cited material, emphasising the need for academic discernment in interpreting these results.

Turnitin is widely used by students for citation checks and by faculty for scrutinising the authenticity of academic submissions, including assignments and theses.

In cases of suspected plagiarism, initiating a discussion with the involved party is advisable, as it may uncover misunderstandings or incorrect citations rather than intentional misconduct.

What if the High Similarity is Due to Common Phrases or Terminology?

Turnitin’s similarity score may sometimes be high due to the use of common phrases or specific terminology related to the subject matter. This is because Turnitin scans for matches across a vast database, and sometimes it picks up on frequently used phrases or terms inherent to your discipline.

These “false positives” can inflate your similarity score without necessarily indicating plagiarism.

Here are some examples of common phrases that might trigger false positives:

  • Academic Jargon: Fields like law, medicine, or engineering might have specialised terms that appear frequently in most papers on the subject.
  • Research Methodology Descriptions: Standard phrases like “data analysis” or “hypothesis testing” could raise similarity if used verbatim across many papers.
  • Introductions and Conclusions: Introductory phrases like “the purpose of this paper is to…” or concluding remarks like “in conclusion, it can be said that…” are common across many academic works.

Strategies to Address False Positives:

Don’t panic if your Turnitin report shows high similarity due to common phrases. Here are ways to address it:

  • Analyse the Highlighted Sections: Look closely at the sections flagged by Turnitin. Are they simply common phrases or terminology specific to your field?
  • Consider Rephrasing (if Necessary): While complete rewrites for standard terms might not be necessary, consider rephrasing slightly if the flagged phrase takes up a significant portion of your text. This demonstrates your understanding and avoids appearing overly reliant on generic wording.
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  • Focus on Originality: Ensure the core arguments, analysis, and interpretations in your paper are your own. A high similarity score due to common terms shouldn’t overshadow your unique contribution.
  • Consult Your Instructor: If you’re unsure about a flagged section, communicate with your instructor. Explain the potential for false positives due to field-specific terminology and seek their guidance.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Vary Your Sentence Structure: While some common phrases are unavoidable, employing diverse sentence structures demonstrates your writing skills and prevents monotonous repetition of flagged terms.
  • Focus on Explanations: When using common terminology, don’t just state the term. Explain its meaning in your own words, demonstrating your understanding and adding value to your writing.

By following these strategies, you can address potential concerns raised by a high similarity score due to common phrases and ensure your Turnitin report reflects the originality of your work.

How Can I Reduce My Similarity Score?

Reducing your similarity score in Turnitin involves ensuring your work is as original as possible and that all sources are properly cited. Here are some strategies:

Paraphrase: Instead of copying text verbatim, try to express the same idea in your own words. Remember, paraphrasing isn’t just about changing a few words here and there. It’s about understanding the source material and then explaining it in a new way.

Quote and Cite Properly: If you need to use someone else’s words, make sure to put them in quotation marks and provide a proper citation. This shows that you’re acknowledging the original author.

Use Your Own Voice: Try to write as much as possible in your own voice. Your unique perspective and way of explaining things can help make your work more original.

Review Your Report: Use the similarity report generated by Turnitin as a tool to help you identify areas of your paper that may need more work. Look for highlighted areas in your paper and see if you can rewrite them or provide proper citations.

Filter Out Small Matches: Turnitin offers a feature that allows users to filter out small matches, which can help reduce the similarity score by excluding common phrases or subject-specific terminology.

Proofread: Always proofread your work before submitting it. This can help you spot areas that may be too similar to your sources.

Remember, the goal isn’t just to reduce your similarity score, but to ensure academic integrity in your work. Always strive for originality and proper citation practices.

What’s Next?

Turnitin stands out as a leading plagiarism detection software, drawing from the largest content database to scrutinize student papers for originality.

By comparing submissions against a vast array of previous submissions, published materials, and web pages, it efficiently identifies matching sources, providing an accurate similarity score. This process not only highlights writing issues but also serves as a formative learning tool, enhancing students’ knowledge of similarity and the various kinds of plagiarism.

While the evaluation of plagiarism checkers underscores Turnitin’s effectiveness, it’s crucial for educators and students to engage in discussions with any concerned student identified by these services. For those seeking alternatives, Bytescare offers a robust plagiarism checker with unique features tailored to ensure the integrity of original contents.

To explore this option further and gain a comprehensive understanding of its capabilities, we encourage you to book a demo with Bytescare.

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FAQs

Can Turnitin detect plagiarism from PDF files?

Turnitin has the capability to detect plagiarism in various types of files, but it may encounter difficulties with images and PDFs.

Does a high similarity index always mean plagiarism?

Not necessarily. A high Turnitin similarity score can sometimes be misleading. Here’s why:
Common Phrases: Matches with field-specific terminology or standard research method descriptions can inflate the score.
Citations and References: Turnitin might flag these sections as they match the original sources.

What are the limitations of Turnitin plagiarism checker?

Turnitin has trouble identifying plagiarism in a number of formats, including images and some PDFs, because it can’t scan text inside images or find hidden text (like white space). Moreover, paraphrased material that does not precisely correspond to the source material might be overlooked. Another challenge is with previously submitted work, which could be mistakenly flagged as plagiarised.

Is Turnitin effective in detecting online sources?

Yes, Turnitin is quite effective in detecting plagiarism from online sources. It has a vast database that includes websites and academic journals readily available online.

How do I know my plagiarism percentage?

The plagiarism percentage is typically provided by the plagiarism checker you’re using. It represents the percentage of your text that matches other sources

How to check percentage of plagiarism in Turnitin?

The percentage of plagiarism in Turnitin is represented by the Similarity Score in the Similarity Report. This score is a percentage that shows the level of similarity between your paper and other sources.

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