How To Use Turnitin To Check Plagiarism

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is an online plagiarism detection service that compares submitted documents with a vast database of academic papers, articles, websites, and other sources.It generates a similarity report, highlighting any matching text found in the document.


Why is it important to check plagiarism and how does Turnitin help with that?

In the digital age, where information is readily accessible, it is crucial to maintain academic integrity and originality. Plagiarism is a serious issue in academic and professional circles, undermining the integrity of original work. To combat this problem, various plagiarism detection tools have emerged, with Turnitin being one of the most widely used and trusted platforms. Turnitin is a valuable tool that aids in detecting and preventing plagiarism, safeguarding the reputation of individuals and institutions. By using the Turnitin plagiarism checker, research students, educators and professionals can identify instances of plagiarism and make necessary revisions to maintain the integrity of their work. In this article, we will explore how to use Turnitin to check plagiarism, ensuring the authenticity and originality of your written content.

If you are looking for a plagiarism checker that adheres to writing methodology, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Does the service allow teachers to provide feedback on potential plagiarism-flagged student work?
  • What automated feedback does the service offer to assist students with revision? As important as plagiarism checking is, it's more important to provide scaffolding and feedback during the writing process to deter it.
  • Are they only responsible for policing students or are they helping them grow? Are students able to improve their drafts and address citation and paraphrasing issues before submitting?
  • Are the services in line with best practices for teaching and learning? Can the service provide classroom resources beyond the product? Is the service aimed at addressing skill gaps associated with plagiarism?

How to use Turnitin?

You must do so much of research and you must gather information relate to your research topic. Collect information as much as possible, because the collection of more data will make you write an informative research paper. You need to do so much research before start writing your research paper. During the process of preliminary research, you can choose any data collection method that suits your research.

Step 1: Accessing Turnitin

Write the entire research paper in a rough draft. Your draft of your research work must be error-free and clearly written. Because this rough draft will act as a blueprint for your research. You must hand over your draft copy of the research paper to any of your team members or colleague to check whether there are any mistakes

Step 2: Submitting a Document

After logging in, you will be directed to the main dashboard. To check a document for plagiarism, click on the "Submit" button or a similar option. This will open the submission form, where you can choose the document from your device or upload it directly from cloud storage platforms such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

Step 3: Selecting the Appropriate Settings

Before submitting your document, it's important to configure the settings according to your requirements. Turnitin offers several options to customize the analysis process. For instance, you can select whether you want to include quoted material, exclude bibliographies, or exclude small matches. These settings help refine the similarity report and make it more accurate.

Step 4: Reviewing the Similarity Report

Once the document is submitted, Turnitin begins the analysis process, which may take a few minutes depending on the length and complexity of the document. Once the analysis is complete, you will be able to access the similarity report. This report indicates the percentage of text in your document that matches external sources. It also provides a breakdown of the matching sources, allowing you to identify specific instances of potential plagiarism.

Step 5: Interpreting the Similarity Report

When reviewing the similarity report, it is important to understand that not all matches indicate plagiarism. Some instances of similarity might be due to correctly cited or common phrases. Turnitin provides a colour-coded system to distinguish different types of matches. It is recommended to focus on the matches highlighted in red or orange, which indicate potentially problematic areas that require further investigation.

Step 6: Analyzing the Matches

For each match in the similarity report, Turnitin provides a direct link to the source material. This enables you to evaluate the context and determine whether it is a legitimate reference or a case of plagiarism. Take the time to carefully review each match and compare it to your original content. If it is indeed a case of plagiarism, you will need to revise your work accordingly and ensure proper citation.

Step 7: Iterative Process

Using Turnitin is not a one-time task. It is advisable to submit your document multiple times, especially if you have made revisions, to ensure that the similarity report reflects the most accurate results. This iterative process allows you to identify and resolve any remaining instances of plagiarism before submitting your final work.

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If the report doesn’t detect plagiarism, what does it detect?

Similarity - that’s why we call it the Similarity Report. The Similarity Report primarily detects similarities in content. It is named as such because it focuses on identifying similarities rather than specifically detecting plagiarism or cheating. The intention is not to make determinations regarding plagiarism but to provide educators with the necessary information to make informed judgments. This includes knowing when and how to create a "teachable moment" and deliver essential instruction that addresses potential skill deficiencies. These deficiencies can range from foundational literacy skills like paraphrasing to specific skills related to citation and even executive-functioning skills such as time management.

What are the Turnitin Interpretation of the similarity index?

The similarity index should be seen as a supplementary tool for assessing a thesis and cannot replace the individual evaluation conducted by the supervisor. It is essential to consider the highlighted sources and matches, potential unrecognized citations, and recurring terminology in the field of research when analyzing the similarity index. Hence, it is not possible to establish a predefined threshold value for the similarity index that automatically warrants the rejection of a thesis.

The following explanations are excerpts taken from the Turnitin webpage that may help you to size the results of the Turnitin

Similarity Report

  • The Similarity Report is the result of a comparison between the text of the submission against the search targets selected for the assignment including billions of internet pages, archived information, a repository of previous submissions and a collection of periodicals and publications.
  • Turnitin does not specifically scan for plagiarism within a work. Instead, it will check a student's work against the database and if there are instances where a student's writing is similar to or matches against, one of our sources, we will flag this for you to review.
  • Encountering matches in Turnitin's databases is a common occurrence in assignments. The purpose of the similarity score is to highlight potential issues in a student's paper, serving as a valuable tool within a broader evaluation process. It allows you to assess whether the identified match is acceptable or not.
  • Similarity Reports offer a summary of matched or closely similar text detected in a submitted paper. The report icon's colour represents the paper's similarity score, which reflects the extent of the matched or similar text identified. The percentage range for the score spans from 0% to 100%.

The possible similarity indices reported by Turnitin are as follows

Colour code Percentage of similarity
Non-colouredOriginal text
BlueNo matching text
GreenOne word to 24% matching text
Yellow25-49% matching text
Orange50-74% matching text
Red75-100% matching text