Plagiarism and originality

When authors neglect the need to cite and reference their sources, their work might be considered as plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. Students learn that they have to accurately reference their sources and to paraphrase, summarize or quote when they use the work of others. As a teacher you can use Turnitin to quickly and efficiently check if students’ work is original and if they cite and reference their sources properly.

How to use Turnitin to detect plagiarism

Turnitin is a tool in the electronic learning environment of Wageningen University. It provides an originality check by comparing submitted papers to those saved in repositories used by Turnitin. As soon as a student assignment becomes available in Turnitin, an originality check is performed automatically and matching or highly similar text will be discovered.

The Similarity Report

After the originality check by Turnitin, a Similarity Report is provided. The similarity score in this report is the percentage of the document’s content that matches the content of the Turnitin repositories. The Report also indicates which parts of the text match the repositories’ content.

Be careful when you interpret the Similarity Report and always check the similarity score in relation to the sources of the match. If you have a similarity score of 53% and the source of the similarity is 53 times one word which occurs all over the assignment, a score of 53% is not too bad. Also, when the document contains the assignment’s instructions, the similarity score will be high because all students will have this part included in the document. But if the match turns out to be a complete paragraph which was copied from another paper, 53% is too high and plagiarism has occurred. Click here to find out how to interpret the Similarity Report (information provided by Turnitin).

WUR Library can help you to interpret the results of the originality check. If you need help, please contact the Library Servicedesk to make an appointment with one of our information specialists.

No Turnitin at your disposal?

If the work is not submitted in Turnitin, the Education Support Centre can give you access to a ‘general’ course site where you can upload a document for plagiarism detection. If you do not have access to the electronic learning environment of WUR at all, you can ask WUR Library to do the originality check for you.