Plagiarism and the responsibilities and rights of Turnitin users

The rights and responsibilities of both teachers and students using Turnitin are described here. Also, the kinds of plagiarism are listed, and the process regarding the investigation of suspected plagiarism is summarised.

The use of Turnitin similarity check (or originality check) is regulated by the document Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity. It describes the rights and responsibilities of both students and teachers, typical forms of plagiarism, and how suspicion of plagiarism is handled along with the possible consequences of plagiarism. Here is a summary of the guidelines concerning the use of Turnitin. The details are in the document.

Responsibilities and rights

Typical forms of plagiarism

Here are some common forms of plagiarism in a nutshell (read the complete description in section 3 of the Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity):

  • Autoplagiarism or self-plagiarism
  • Quotations or borrowing text word-for-word without a clear indication of this being done
  • Minor changes to the source text, like using synonyms for few words or changing word order
  • Inadequate citing or referencing
  • Copy-pasting text from a source
  • A direct translation of a source without indicating quotation and proper citation
  • Collusion – co-workers are not mentioned, or peers’ work is included in an assignment that should have been produced independently

Sometimes the distinction between plagiarism and bad academic writing is not black-and-white, but grey. What can be considered minor changes? How long can quotations be? What if a reference is found in the reference list, but the citation is missing or vice versa? The premise is that the text must be written in one's own words, but naturally, definitions, concepts, and terms in the field must be used. The page Writing is a skill gives some writing tips.

Process for handling suspicion of plagiarism and its possible consequences

The process in case of suspicion of plagiarism and its possible consequences are described in full in section 4 of the Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity. The description below is a summary of the most important parts.

Plagiarism suspected during the writing process

If plagiarism is suspected during the instruction (draft) phase of the writing process, for example when writing the thesis, the teacher can instruct the student to make the necessary changes without consequences.

However, if the student repeatedly ignores instructions involving academic integrity during the thesis writing process or in coursework, the teacher may contact the investigator [of violations] already before the grading phase.

Plagiarism suspected during grading

The process of handling suspicion of plagiarism is summarised in the flow chart in Figure 1.

The same process is also presented in more detail here in this pdf file.

Flowchart showing the process of the investigation of suspected plagiarism.
Figure 1. The flowchart showing the steps in the investigation process of suspected plagiarism.


If plagiarism is suspected during grading, the situation is one of two:

Investigators and decision-makers

The Manager of Academic Affairs of the corresponding Aalto University school is the investigator in cases of suspected plagiarism. The names and contact details of the managers of all the schools are here. Cases at the Mikkeli campus are handled by the Manager of Academic Operations. These details are repeated here for your convenience.

Iiris Kauppila

Päällikkö, Opintoasiat
School of Arts, Design and Architecture
 Anni Rintala

Anni Rintala

School of Chemical Technology
 Pia Lahti

Pia Lahti

School of Business
 Mari Syväoja

Mari Syväoja

School of Business, BScBA, Mikkeli

Perttu Puska

Päällikkö, opintoasiat
School of Electrical Engineering
 Mirka Jalonen

Mirka Jalonen

Päällikkö, Opintoasiat
School of Engineering

Mari Knuuttila

Päällikkö, Opintoasiat
School of Science

Turnitin an originality checking and feedback software

Turnitin is a tool to help you not only identify plagiarism, but also teach students good scientific writing practices. Turnitin compares submitted text to a massive database of text, highlights all similar text found and creates a similarity report.

Read more about what Turnitin is and how it can be used.
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