Turnitin an originality checking and feedback software
Turnitin is best used proactively as a formative tool to teach students good scientific writing skills.
Additionally, Turnitin has a tool that helps you identify text generated by artificial intelligence.
- Turnitin has a submission box where files can be dragged-and-dropped – which then produces a similarity report of the submitted texts.
- The software highlights text found to be similar to that in its vast range of works – from books, magazines, journals and articles to material on the internet.
- The similarity report is interpreted by a teacher or authoring student, depending on the assignment.
- Turnitin can be used proactively. The teacher should give students the opportunity to submit drafts that they can correct before making the final submission.
- The teacher can also give feedback on the submission and grade it via Turnitin’s assessment tools.
- Turnitin's AI-detection tool helps the teacher identify text that may be generated by artificial intelligence.
Benefits of proactive use of Turnitin: when used as a normal part of the writing process, students get acquainted with the system and learn to interpret Turnitin’s similarity report, in addition to learning skilful writing.
Q&A on Turnitin
Students get immediate feedback on
- whether they have written about a research subject in their own words, and
- based on the similarities found, whether they have referenced their sources properly.
Teachers and thesis supervisors and advisors can
- use Turnitin to inspect detected similarities,
- comment on submitted text, and
- so also guide students to learn how to cite the work they refer to.
This is an excellent way to promote good writing ethics and uphold academic integrity, thus preventing plagiarism before it even arises.
Documents submitted to Turnitin are compared with texts stored in an extensive database or repository comprising books, journals, magazines, and other works from all major publishing houses, documents openly available on the internet, and academic reports and theses from most well-known universities. In its similarity report, visible to both the teacher as well as the student, Turnitin gives an overall percentage of similar text, highlights similar text in the submission and links it to the source for easy inspection. The report from the AI tool highlights and gives the percentage of the text estimated to be generated by artificial intelligence.
You can use a workspace in MyCourses called Independent Turnitin Originality Check for academic year 20xx-20yy. You can check text there independently of any courses. Alternatively, if you have a dedicated MyCourses workspace for instructing thesis work, you can use the Turnitin submission boxes for drafts to check your own work.
Unfortunately, there is no absolute percentage or number indicating a satisfactory result. The submitted text must always be reviewed and assessed regardless of the percentage of similarity given in the similarity report. Nonetheless, the less similar text there is, the better.
We recommend that you use Turnitin as often as possible. It can serve as a learning and feedback tool, not merely as an originality-checking tool.
As part of the student’s thesis writing process, the use of Turnitin is mandatory. As an instructor or a supervisor, you can use a personal, dedicated MyCourses workspace for advising or supervising theses. Order the personal workspace by filling in this form.
The tool is automatically in use in all Turnitin submission boxes, and all new submissions are subjected to analysis. You are not able to control the tool in any way. There are restrictions that limit the use of this tool:
- the text length should be between 300 and 15000 words,
- the file size must be less than 100 MB,
- the text is in English, and
- the accepted file types are .docx, .pdf, .txt, .rtf.
See Turnitin's FAQ for more information on the subject.
Although Turnitin claims high accuracy in detecting AI-generated text, experience gained so far shows this is not entirely so. Text generated by newer generative text models often slip through undetected. Also, the detector flags text corrected by grammar-correcting software, which, after all, use large language models and so is, in fact, AI-generated. Although the AI detector is far from perfect, it serves as a useful tool to help identify AI-generated text and its report serves as a basis for dialog with the student when misconduct may be suspected.
For more information, see Turnitin's FAQ on the subject.