Introduction to Turnitin

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a plagiarism detection and deterrent application, available to instructors within WebCampus Assignments. When students post written work to an Assignment setup with Turnitin, the application generates a Similarity Report which instructors can use to identify plagiarism. In addition, the tool can be used discourage plagiarism (if students know you are using it to identify plagiarism), and to guide student learning about academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism (if students are given access to the Similarity Report and are allowed to revise and resubmit work based on the report).

What does the Turnitin Similarity Report do?

  • The Similarity Report compares the text of the submission to search targets selected for the assignment which "may include billions of pages of active and archived internet information, a repository of tens of thousands of periodicals, journals, and publications, and a repository of student works previously submitted to Turnitin" (
  • The overall "similarity score" is a percentage of a paper's content that matches to Turnitin's databases.
  • Any matching or highly similar text discovered is detailed in the Similarity Report, along with information about the matching source.

What are limitations of the Turnitin Similarity Report?

  • Turnitin does not automatically detect plagiarism. Ultimately it is up to the instructor and students to interpret the meaning of the Similarity Report.
  • The Similarity Report may not scan every site on the Internet or identify contract cheating. In other words, a clean Similarity Report does not necessarily guarantee that the submission is the student's own work.
  • The Similarity Report does not flag essays that include plagiarized ideas or concepts, nor can it detect paraphrasing that dramatically changes the wording of an original source while maintaining that source's organization.
  • The Similarity Report will not always distinguish between properly and improperly cited work. Students who are quoting correctly might have reports that indicate a high level of overlap with these sources. However, while reviewing the Similarity Report, you can exclude quoted materials and bibliographic materials.

Turnitin resources