Turnitin is one of the assessment submission and feedback tools used at USW. This page provides an overview of the system and subpages contain step-by-step guides to setting up, accessing, interpreting and marking a Turnitin assignment.


How does Turnitin work?

Turnitin is a tool used to help detect and discourage plagiarism and to encourage good referencing skills. It is a text comparison system – the text of any assignment submitted through Turnitin is compared to their huge databases of sources which includes things like online journals, newspapers, websites, and ebooks, as well as the work submitted by students from all over the world. It then creates an Originality Report which highlights any text matching one of those sources and gives this as percentage match. The report can then be viewed by staff as a quickly and easily to determine if the source has been used in an appropriate way.

You can choose to view both the Originality Report and the grading tools or one at a time, to start marking the assignment online. The grading tools allow you to write comments, highlight, and annotate an assignment just as you would do with a paper submission. You’ll also be able give an overall feedback comment, allocate marks, and to set up a pool of frequently used comments to save time.

Why use it?

  • Turnitin can help to support academic integrity by teaching students to improve their referencing and academic writing style.
  • It helps to decrease the likelihood of plagiarising behaviours.
  • It helps to speed up the process and increase the likelihood of detecting plagiarism.

Please note: In line with the University’s policy that assessment should be used to enhance learning, we recommend that Turnitin is always used in a manner which helps students to learn and develop their referencing and academic writing skills. For more information please read the Assessment For Learning Policy.

What can I use it for?

Turnitin can only be used to create online assignment submission for individual text-based files (up to 40 MB) in the following file formats:

  • Microsoft Word® (.doc/.docx)
  • PDF
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.pptx, .ppt, .ppsx, and .pps)
  • Rich text format (.rtf)
  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Microsoft Excel (.xls and .xlsx)
  • OpenOffice Text (.odt)
  • WordPerfect (.wpd)
  • PostScript (.ps)
  • HTML
  • Hangul Word Processor file (.hwp)

If you are setting up an assignment which uses different types of files (multiple file submission, code, images, videos, etc) it is advised that you use the Blackboard Assignment tool instead.

System Requirements

For a full list of system requirements, including security settings details, please refer to the following Turnitin System Requirements page

Important points

  • Turnitin is not a perfect system and still requires academics to check the reports and interpret the results. For more information about how to read an Originality Report please see the Interpreting Turnitin Reports.
  • Students need to be taught about how the report works and informed that there is no acceptable percentage threshold that they should aim to be above or below.
  • Turnitin’s database of sources is limited and will not catch every source. A good academic will probably be able to spot additional things that the system cannot .
  • The database is far more limited for any assignments not in the English language.
  • Turnitin may identify false matches in commonly used phrases or if students are submitting any work within a standard form. Some of this will can be accounted for when setting the assignment options but some will need the tutor to interpret.
  • There can be time delays (up to 24 hours) in creating the Originality Reports during busy periods.

Support for your Students

You can find a full range of support information and advice on the use of Turnitin for students on our Student IT, Media and Technical Services Channel.