Using Turnitin

Enrolling it Turnitin

Once you are enrolled in Turnitin, you will be uploading drafts of essays and the research paper as instructed (Word files, not PDFs). See your outline for due dates.  Please turn your essays and research paper drafts in to in time to make any necessary changes before you submit your work. Turnitin will not email you alerts--you have to log in and inspect your own report after you have uploaded your work. It will usually take half an hour or more.

When you see the place to upload an assignment, the due date is set in Turnitin to the last day of the semester. Obviously, that will not be the real due date.  However, I want you to be able to upload the paper even if it is late and, because you will be revising it, I want you to be able to upload it more than one.

Students can receive failing grades for any assignments that contain instances of plagiarism.  In your writing assignments, you must properly attribute information that you take from sources with parenthetical in-text citations. You must also indicate when you are using someone else's exact wording. Do not copy phrases or sentences from sources without enclosing them in quotation marks or, in the case of direct quotations over four lines, omitting the quotation marks and indenting the quotation ten spaces from the left margin. Not indicating when you are directly quoting is a form of plagiarism even if you have in-text citations because you are implying that you are using your own wording. Correct paraphrasing  means putting a passage entirely in your own words, not copying any or all of its sentences or phrases.

Turnitin is a web site that generates "originality reports" that indicate when it recognizes information taken from other sources. These are not "plagiarism reports." Sometimes the material that Turnitin recognizes is plagiarized--for example, if a student copies and pastes sentences or paragraphs without indicating, through quotation marks or indenting, that these are direct quotations. However, it will also recognize properly attributed quotations. It is software--it does not make value judgments. It will also recognize titles, works cited entries, etc. You have to look at your own report and evaluate the situations.

Following is a screenshot of the upper right corner of the first page of an originality report for an essay from a previous semester. The 16% means that Turnitin recognized 16% of the material as matching other sources. It also shows where the material it recognizes comes from. The colors correspond to the highlighted matches in the essay. This does not mean that 16% was plagiarized--for instance, it will recognize very common phrasings, too, such as those in the next picture below this one.

The phrasing that Turnitin recognizes below is quite common and isn't a problem.

However, the following example IS a problem. It is copied word for word from an online source, and the student did not indicate that this was a direct quotation. Direct quotations under five lines need to be enclosed in quotation marks; direct quotations of five lines or more should be indented ten spaces (two tabs) from the left margin.

Turnitin indicates that this and other copied material later in the essay comes from a site called (a misnomer if ever there was one). This example commits two types of plagiarism: (1) the student copied material without indicating that it is someone else's exact words, and (2) the student passed the ideas off as his own--he did not cite the source. Either type of plagiarism is enough for a failing grade. the student received an F on this essay.

Following are examples of details from an originality report for another student whose research paper was given an F--and who ended up with an F for the entire course. Turnitin found that 32% of the paper matched material from other sources in its data base.

Not all of the matching material is problematic--common phrasings pop up, too. "There is too much violence in the media" is a sentence many people have spoken or written.

Also, some highlighted areas indicated material copied from sources that were indicated as direct quotations and that had in-text citations identifying the sources. These are not examples of plagiarism.

There were instances, though, where the student indicated the source but did not indicate that she was copying the exact words of the source--that is, she was correctly attributing the ideas to where she got them, but she was passing off the wording as her own, as in the following example.

In the following section, we see examples of two kinds of plagiarism. The areas highlighted in purple show an in-text citation indicating where the information came from (although the format is incorrect--it is APA format, not MLA format). However, it copies quite a bit of the wording without indicating that the source is being quoted. The student is offering the highlighted copied material as her own wording. She may even have copied all the wording of the original source--the whole passage may not have been in Turnitin's database. The areas highlighted with red are passed off as the student's own words and do not even have an in-text citation indicating where the material came from.

Turnitin is not the only tool that instructors use to catch plagiarism. A student can plagiarize material that is not in Turnitin's database, for example. However, the original material can often be found very quickly just by Googling suspicious passages. Instructors have spent years reading student papers, and they have a pretty good idea of what students' writing levels are. When college freshmen suddenly begin producing phrases, sentences, and paragraphs with sentence structure and vocabulary quite unlike their usual writing, it stands out far more than they realize.

Please do not be tempted to be academically dishonest. It is not only unethical, it can hurt you a great deal. taking what may seem like an easy way out can have immediate consequences--such as getting an F in a course--and long-term ones, such as being unprepared for the work at higher levels of education.

It is also important that you understand how to properly paraphrase. Simply changing some of the words of a passage is not sufficient.  Read the following passage written by George Orwell, and then see the examples below, which are taken from Navigating America, page 188.







To enroll in Turnitin, go to

In the upper right corner, you will see "Create Account / Log In"

Click "Create Account."

Scroll down to "Create a New Account," and select "Student."

Enter the class ID  and the class enrollment password.

Enter your user information. PLEASE select "Display names" as last name first, followed by first name.