Turnitin – Teacher’s Guide

1. What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a digital tool that helps detect and prevent plagiarism in written work. It compares submitted documents to a vast database containing previously submitted student works, academic publications, and online content. In addition, Turnitin includes AI-based features such as AI-generated text detection and learning the writing style of the author, which helps identify ghostwriting. These features can currently only be utilized with English texts.

2. What you need Turnitin for?

The staff of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, both teaching, research and support service staff as well as students can use Turnitin.

Textual similarity checking has long been part of the thesis process. All theses are checked before they are published in Theseus. Teachers can also use Turnitin to check written work submitted to Moodle for coursework. Similarity or originality checks can also be used for self-study materials, publications and other writings.

In higher education practices scientific writing during studies, especially in theses, but also in coursework assignments. For students, Turnitin provides tools to develop scientific writing and to prevent plagiarism.

When written outputs are stored in Turnitin’s reference archive, the text created by the author is also protected against plagiarism.

3. How to use Turnitin?

  • 3.1 Turnitin and Moodle

    The teacher can define Turnitin check for assignment, forum, workshop and quiz activities. By default, no check is performed on returned files.

    Turnitin is enabled in the settings of the above activities. For more information about settings in Moodle Moodlen käyttöliittymässä esiintyvä kysymysmerkkisymboli.-symbol and see the “Learn more about Turnitin settings”.

    The similarity of written works can only be compared in text files, but they can include images and diagrams, for example. For a more detailed list of allowed file formats, see the Turnitin help page.

    The first time you use the service or if the terms of use change, you agree to Turnitin’s End User License Agreement (EULA). If the agreement is not accepted, the documents are submitted to Moodle only and no text similarity check is performed. If the student has already previously accepted the latest agreement in SeAMK Moodle, the selection will not appear.

    If a student submits their work without having the EULA approved, they can go back and have it approved.  The submission will then automatically go to Turnitin for review. Once the EULA has been approved, it will appear on the Moodle as follows:

    Notification in Moodle user interface, that you have already accepted the latest Turnitin EULA.

    If the teacher has allowed students to view the similarity report, the student will also see the Turnitin icon and the text similarity percentage when the check is complete. The percentage icon is a link to the similarity report.

    It is important to remember that the report is only a tool that must always be interpreted. It lists the similarities found in the submitted work in the reference database, but it does not directly indicate whether plagiarism is involved or whether similarities are allowed. The interpretation of the similarity report is discussed later in this guide in section 5.

    Moodle always sends notifications to the teacher and student by email when submission is made. If the teacher has not disabled notifications, the student can change the settings in their Moodle profile so that the Turnitin Integrity plugin does not send notifications. The teacher’s settings are shown in the picture.

    Turnitin's notification settings in Moodle, where they can be turned off if necessary.

  • 3.2 Turnitin and Word Online

    Turnitin Draft Coach is a Word Online (Microsoft 365) utility that helps authors check the originality of their texts and the accuracy of source citations during the writing process. It can also be used to check the grammar of English-language texts. Draft Coach is not available in the desktop version of Word.

    Using the Turnitin Draft Coach:

    1. Open a browser e.g. Chrome or Edge
      2. For example, go to office365.epedu.fi.
      3. Log in with your Microsoft account username@seamk.fi
      4. Authenticate using Microsoft Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
      5. Open Word from the M365 applications. Open the document you want or create a new one

     

    After a short delay, Turnitin will automatically appear in the tools at the top of the Word document and by selecting Draft Coach you can access its tools. The first time you use Turnitin, you must also accept its terms of use.

    A Similarity Check can be performed up to three times on the same document. The checked text is not stored in Turnitin’s database, and the report is only visible to the author.

    After the check, a summary of the check is displayed on the right-hand side of the Word. It allows you to quickly examine the similarities found. You can access the full report by clicking on the “View Full Report” button. Full Report is also the report format for the report available in Moodle.

    For more information on using the Turnitin Draft Coach, see the Turnitin help page Understanding Turnitin Draft Coach.

  • 3.3 Turnitin and Microsoft Teams

    Turnitin is available in Microsoft Teams for similarity checks on student tasks. For more detailed instructions, see the Microsoft page on Use Turnitin with  Microsoft Teams. Turnitin is activated from the assignment settings tab (gear icon).

  • 3.4 Turnitin Folders

    If necessary, a separate folder (Folders) can be created in Turnitin for staff. Files can be exported directly to the folder via the Turnitin web interface and or sent to the folder using a form provided with a link. This method can be used for similarity checks of documents, e.g. in cases where Moodle is not a suitable alternative. For more information on using your own folder, see Using Turnitin through your browser.

    Requests to create your own folder jelppari@epedu.fi.

4. Key features of the similarity report (Full Report)

  • 4.1 Delivery of the report

    Whether you use the Moodle activity, your own Folders or Draft Coach in Word Online to check the text document, Turnitin will generate a report based on a database comparison. The report may take a while to generate depending on the length of the text.

  • 4.2 Report overview

    An overview of the similarity matches can be found in the right-hand panel of the report window; it contains a list of all source matches found in the document, ordered by highest match to lowest match. Each matching source is color-coded and listed numerically to make it easier to distinguish between multiple matches.

    The information in the far right margin is not visible to the student. There you will find the so-called flags (Flag), which indicate hidden characters. Hidden characters can be used to try to confuse the identification of similarities between texts. In addition, the number of sources that provided a match during the check, the document information including date of submission, fonts used (possible font spoofing will be indicated). Finally, the percentage of the document text that the check indicates is generated by the AI. Clicking on the percentage will open a separate AI report.

    The Turnitin similarity report and the AI detection report are the result of different processes, so they are not linked.

  • 4.3 Searching for similarity matches in a document and filtering

    In the side panel of the overview, select the source to search for a marked match in the document. The number and color tags make it easy to match text and source matches marked in the document in the overview side panel. If necessary, you can exclude a source from the comparison by clicking on the eye icon (Exclude) or the text “Exclude this Text”.

    Excluded sources can be returned by clicking on the “Similarity Exclusions” text at the top of the side panel. Sources can then be returned one by one by clicking on the eye icon or all at once by clicking on “Include All Sources”.

    In this example, 2 sources have been filtered out.

    Kuvakaappauksessa näkyy tieto, että 2 lähdettä on suodatettu pois raportista. Tämä näkyy tekstinä 2 Similarity Exclusions.

  • 4.4 Multiple matches to the same source

    Sometimes there are several text matches from the same source. Selecting a source will display all related hits in the Hits overview side panel; you can move freely between them using the forward and back arrow keys. However, if there is only one hit associated with a source, the arrows are not used.

  • 4.5 Report settings

    In the report settings (click on the wheel icon) you can make choices about the reference material to be used and specify the content to be excluded from the report, e.g. source lists, short parallels or direct quotes marked with quotation marks.

    For more information on the settings, please refer to each setting.

  • 4.6 Saving and sharing the report

    If necessary, the report can be saved and shared, for example with a teacher. At the bottom left of the report you will find the Download and Print functions.

5. How to interpret the report?

  • 5.1 Percentage of overall similarity

    The information from Turnitin’s similarity check should help the author to make decisions on how to improve his/her writing. Whether it is for subsequent drafts of the same assignment or for future assignments of a different nature.

    The Overall Similarity percentage is based on the textual similarities found in the document from Turnitin’s reference data. It is perfectly normal to find some similarities. The length of the text also has a relative impact on the percentage, i.e. short texts can have a significantly higher percentage than long texts.  So it is not worth paying too much attention to the percentage alone.

    The similarity percentage does not directly indicate that there is plagiarism in the text. Similarities noted in a report should always be considered in context. Also, the accuracy of citations cannot be verified from the report based on the overall percentage. Translations between languages are not always revealed by the check. It should also be kept in mind that the Turnitin reference material does not cover all textual material, i.e. the check cannot find all possible similarities.

    Turnitin recognizes duplicate copies of the same document sent by the author and does not recognize identical parts of the document as plagiarism. If necessary, a request for removal of the document can be made to jelppari@epedu.fi.  When requesting removal, please provide oid identifier, which is the unique identifier of the document (Paper ID / Submission ID) and name of the document to be removed. The OID can be found in the top right corner of the analysis report by clicking on exclamation mark icon .

  • 5.2 Tips for viewing the report
    • Let’s first examine the whole report at a glance to get an overview of the similarities.
    • One way to continue looking at the report is to first look at the hits with the highest match percentages in the list. Are they perhaps direct quotes? Are they acceptable? Even if the source is acknowledged, long quotes are not considered acceptable.
    • It is still a good idea to go through the report in a systematic way.
    • Filter out from the report those similarities that can be considered acceptable, e.g. quotations with appropriate attribution.
    • Other acceptable similarities may include a phrase/definition/expression that is well established in the jargon and should not be expressed differently. Other common expressions that are repeated in texts, such as the purpose of this thesis…
    • The list of references can also be filtered out if necessary. In the English text, Turnitin identifies the bibliography by its title. It may not recognise the Finnish title, e.g. Sources, Source list.
    • Matches that have no practical relevance can be filtered out. For example, matches with a small word count or percentage.
  • 5.3 Correcting findings in the report

    When editing a checked text document, please note that SeAMK templates work best in the desktop version of Word. It is recommended that only document review is done in Word Online and editing in the desktop version when using the template.

     

6. AI writing detection

Turnitin currently only has an AI detection add-on visible to teachers. It aims to recognise text produced by generative AI. This currently works with English texts.

The AI Writing Report contains the total percentage of sentences in the document that are determined by Turnitin’s AI writing detection model to have been generated by AI. These sentences are highlighted in blue in the text of the AI writing report.

The detection model identifies the prose text in the document as forming a longer piece of writing, such as an essay, dissertation, article, etc. The model does not reliably detect AI-generated text that is not prose, such as poetry, scripts or code, nor short/unstandard text, such as lists, tables or annotated bibliographies. For more information on AI-generated text recognition, see the Turnitin help page AI writing detection.

7. Support services at SeAMK and instructions for using Turnitin

Questions and service requests related to Turnitin to  jelppari@epedu.fi
regarding e.g.