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Detecting Plagiarism: Originality Reports

What is an Originality Report?

This report contains the outcome of a search of the Turnitin database, comparing your assignment with what is stored. The result is summarised as a percentage score named the Similarity Index. This document will be listed in the tutor’s view of the class assignment inbox.

If your tutor has allowed students to see their own reports, you will be able to view it as soon as it has been generated. This can take a few minutes or an hour or more. When an Originality Report is available, an icon is placed in the Originality Report column of the student class portfolio page.

If you are submitting a replacement for a previous draft you may have to wait up to 24 hours. This appears as a grey icon in the Originality Report column of the student class portfolio page.

From your Turnitin Student Homepage, select the class to which you have submitted work to open your class portfolio. Your Similarity Index will appear as a percentage in the "contents" column to the right of each assignment title.

Where do I find Originality Reports for my submissions?

Your tutor may have set up the submission point to allow you top see the Originality Report. This is not immediately available after you have submitted your work as the system needs time to check it against the database, it should become available within 24 hours.

To view the originality report of an earlier submitted assignment you will first need to click on the View/Complete link on the submission area.

View / Complete link

From there you will need to click on the link titled Show details.

Show details link

The Originality Report is normally opened by clicking on the % number underneath the column headed Originality Report.

It opens up in a separate window that is called the Document Viewer.

I have submitted my academic work, why can't I see my Originality Report?

Your tutor has not set up the access for your class until after the assignment submission date. Contact your tutor to clarify this.

Is the Originality Report a report about how much you have plagiarised?

The text matched in the report is not an assessment of how much you have plagiarised. The Originality Report can help your tutor locate potential sources of plagiarism. The decision that the work has been plagiarised, should be made only after a careful examination of both the submitted academic work and the suspected sources.

What does an Originality Report look like?

The Originality report displays your assignment with any matching text highlighted. The highlighted areas are then colour coded with the right hand panel displaying which sources the text has matched with. The information provided in the side panel is often referred to as the Similarity Index.

What does the percentage produced by TurnitinUK mean?

TurnitinUK shows how much of the your academic work matches content from web sites, electronic books or electronic journals and previously submitted academic work, so that tutors can quickly understand how much of the paper is unoriginal. Normally you will be expected to include the work of other writers within your work, but this must be acknowledged by citing the author properly within the text and referenced in a list at the end of your work.

A high percentage value (%) is not necessarily proof of plagiarism just as a low value (%) is not necessarily an indicator that work is clear of plagiarism. The similarity index is the starting point for later evaluation.

What do the percentages and colours in the Report mean?

The higher the percentage, the larger the amount of text in your assignment is matched against the information in the Turnitin database. The range is from 0% to 100%. This is the number of words in your assignment that are matched is given as a percentage of the total word count of the work submitted. 

Percentages are also colour-coded as follows:

Blue – no matching words
Green – from one matching word up to 24%
Yellow – from 25-49%
Orange – from 50-74%
Red – from 75-100%

Any significant matches should be assessed to see if they need quotation marks to identify quoted text and that they are cited and referenced correctly.

How should I interpret the Originality Report?

Matched sources from the paper appear in an easy-to-understand format revealing colour-coded sources corresponding to non-original work. Your Tutor can filter what information appears in your originality report in three ways:

  1. Removing bibliographic information
  2. Excluding text in quotation marks quoted
  3. Small matches of words like a phrase

You can start to interpret a report by looking at the percentage in Overall Similarity Index. The colour of the report icon indicates how much matching text has been found.

Next you need to consider the originality report in more detail and look beyond the percentage of the Overall Similarity Index. Matched sources from the paper appear in an easy-to-understand format revealing colour-coded sources corresponding to non-original work.

Is there a percentage figure, below which is safe, in TurnitinUK?

There are no clear cut rules for this, as all work will probably contain some words from other sources. For example you might think that a returned percentage of 15% or less may indicate that plagiarism has not occurred. However, if there is a single continuous block of text this might suggest that plagiarism has occurred.

What are "small" matches?

  1. common phrases: “and this describes” or “analysis shows that”
  2. established terminology used in technical, scientific or legal in assignments.
  3. descriptions used in the textural analysis of poems or novels.
  4. common words used by students on the same module.

It is possible to filter your view of the Originality Report to exclude small matches. To do this click on the filter icon at the bottom of the side panel on the right.

Select the option to Exclude matches that are less than and specify the number of words or percentage to exclude from the report.

Then click on Apply Changes.

The report will no longer show small matches of text or matches with the same percentage or lower that you specified.

Will my quotations appear as matches?

Even if a quote has been correctly presented within an assignment it will still appear as a match. This helps tutors to check whether the text has been correctly cited and referenced. It is possible to exclude quotations from your view of the Originality Report by using a filter.

Click on the filter icon at the bottom of the side panel on the right.

Tick the Exclude Quotes tick box.

Click the Apply Changes button.

The report will no longer show quoted text as a match.

Will my bibliography or references appear as matches?

Even if a reference has been correctly presented within an assignment it is likely that another student may have referenced the same text. This means that some of the references you have included will appear as matches.

Tutors will usually check the reference section or bibliography to ensure that they are cited and referenced correctly. It is possible to exclude these sections from your view of the Originality Report by using a filter.

Click on the filter icon at the bottom of the side panel on the right.

Tick the Exclude Bibliography tick box.

Click the Apply Changes button.

The report will no longer show the references or bibliography text as a match.

What happens if I submit work done previously for another assignment?

Your latest academic work submitted to TurnitinUK will be added to the Database and be matched against previously submitted work. Repeating the same work for a different assessment is not allowed.

Can I resubmit my work after seeing the Originality Report?

If your tutor has enabled you to make repeated submissions you will be able to resubmit as many times as you like up until the due date. Each version overwrites your previous submission. This allows you to improve your use of quotation marks, citations and references and clear your work of what could be regarded as plagiarism.

Why are there matches to sources I haven't used?

Many other sources of information will draw upon the same work you have used to write your assignment. This means that when TurnitinUK checks for matches it is likely to find these sources as well (other student papers, internet sources, periodicals, journals and publications). TurnitinUK is not able to identify the original source of the text which might be the one that you have used so will show matches to other sources of the same text.

Although TurnitinUK may find several matches for one piece of text the Originality Report will display showing an overview of these matches and this might not reference the one that you used. However although it appears that the report is only showing one match for this text it will have matched it from several places.

To see these details at the top of the side panel click the All sources icon.

Under each match has its own list of sources.

Why can't I view the student paper I have matched to?

Papers submitted to TurnitinUK remain the intellectual property of their authors, instructors, and respective institutions, so can not be viewed without asking for permission. If you have any concerns over matches shown within your report you should discuss this with your tutor.

Can the tutor see my assignment in its original format?

TurnitinUK preserves the original format of the paper allowing you tutor to view the student's original text, formatting, imagery and layout.

Does a high percentage score mean that you have plagiarised?

Not necessarily, the Similarity index is an indicator of potential plagiarism and not proof of plagiarism. Neither at the same time is a low score.

The total percentage may indicate a series of frequently used short expressions or the use of professional or technical terminology.

Your tutor can also choose to automatically exclude direct quotations, citations or bibliography and therefore possibly reduce the percentage score from all of your class submissions. Turnitin does not judge your work for plagiarism, your tutor has the experience and knowledge to make a decision so please talk to them.

Are there different ways of viewing your Originality Report?

The Originality Report can be seen in several formats by selecting “mode” on the right of the toolbar. The default is the “show highest matches together option”. This will divide the screen into two halves. To the left will be sections of your assignment where there has been a match with Turnitin, these will be colour coded. To the right hand side there is a list of the sources for each part the text highlighted on the left. To see the original source in context, select a highlighted link and a new window will open.