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What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a web-based tool that checks for originality in a written work.  Often mislabeled a "plagiarism-detector," Turnitin does not detect plagiarism; rather, the tool checks to see how much of a written work represents the author's own, original ideas. 


How Does Turnitin Work?

Faculty may require that students submit class assignments to Turnitin either through the myCourses Dropbox or directly through Turnitin's website (see "Accessing Turnitin" below).

Papers that are submitted to Turnitin are anonymously checked against a database of current and archived internet webpages, scholarly literature, and periodicals, as well as student papers previously submitted to the system.  Based on the number of positive matches and the length of the submitted document, a "Similarity Score" is calculated.  This score indicates the percentage of the submitted work that is highly similar to other sources; in other words, the percentage of the total document that may not be the author's original ideas.


Accessing Turnitin

Faculty are encouraged to use Turnitin (i.e. Originality Check) via the myCourses Dropbox whenever possible.  If the myCourses Dropbox is not sufficient for a project's needs, faculty may request to have a course shell created directly on the Turnitin system by contacting the Turnitin Administrator (

Teaching faculty and faculty advisers may also request to have an originality report generated by the Turnitin Administrator ( for an individual student paper or project.  For more information, please see RIT's current Turnitin Policies and Guidelines.


How to Use Turnitin

Turnitin is more than just an originality checker! With a few tweaks, Turnitin can be used to help teach students how to avoid plagiarism. Understanding how an Originality Report's output is structured can help you better interpret the results, while enabling a few extra system settings can transform Turnitin into a valuable teaching tool.

The following videos explore how faculty can leverage the features of Turnitin to better evaluate student work, while teaching students how to avoid plagiarism when writing.

  1. Student Academic Integrity Policy 
  2. Understanding the Originality Checking...
  3. Navigating an Originality Report
  4. Understanding the Parts of...
  5. Respecting Student Privacy
  6. Finding Help and Important Contacts


Best Practices for Turnitin Use

The following best practices are adapted from the RIT Provost's Guidelines for Electronic Plagiarism Checking Services:

  1. State in a course syllabus, written handouts, or in myCourses, that students will be submitting their papers to Turnitin as part of their class work.
  2. Remind students to remove their names and other identifying information from documents before submitting those documents to the Turnitin system.
  3. Have an entire class submit their papers electronically to Turnitin through the myCourses Dropbox rather than checking individual papers.
  4. Ensure students that they will always retain the copyright for their work.
  5. Use Turnitin as a teaching tool – allow students to upload multiple drafts prior to the assignment due date and make each Turnitin report available to the student author.