Turnitin guidance and resources for students

Turnitin is a web-based tool that is used when students submit work electronically. Its primary use is to support students' academic development and enhance good academic practice, for example through planned discussion with Univeristy staff about accurate and thorough citation of other people's work, but it is also used to detect plagiarism and can safeguard students' academic integrity.  

What changed in Turnitin in September 2022?

  • Students are now permitted to submit only once to a Turnitin assignment. 
    A tutor may provide an additional assignment for draft submissions to allow students the opportunity to submit work prior to submitting their final assignment, again this draft assignment will permit just one submission. 
  • Similarity scores may appear higher than in previous years.
    Submissions are now being matched to quotations and reference lists - this indicates good practice by demonstrating legitimate sources are being used; higher scores are expected and are not problematic.

How to use the draft submissions upload section

Turnitin assignments (both for draft and final submissions) are signposted with the Turnitin logo . In cases where you need to submit a draft of your work, look for the Turnitin logo and the words “draft” or “draft check” or “draft submissions” etc in the title. Click on the Turnitin link to see the submission inbox and click Submit Paper (righthand side) to see the submission area:

  1. Type the submission title.
  2. Drag and drop the submission file from your computer onto the submission area (blue arrow looking downwards).
  3. Click Add Submission.
  4. Wait until you see the message Your submission has successfully been uploaded to Turnitin (in red) and a Turnitin submission id.
  5. Click Close for the top righthand corner.
  6. Once the page refreshes, you should see your submission and an originality percentage on the right.
  7. Click on the originality percentage to access the originality report.

Note: You should also have received an email with information about your submission. You must keep this email for your records.

What to look for in the originality report

The originality report will show you a breakdown of all the matches that have been found on your submission, ordered by highest similarity match to lowest:

  1. Click the numerical similarity score shown in red colour from the similarity layer on the right.
  2. The Match Overview will appear to show you a list of matches in descending order. This will also show highlighted matches within the paper itself. Each match will be colour-coded to help you identify the matches in the paper.
  3. Click on the Match Overview panel to see how many matches have been found for each source.
  4. To see a match breakdown for each source, click the arrow to the right of the source, which will show you a list of all the sources relevant to this particular match. Click any of the matches shown to see which part of your paper they matched against.


Interpreting Turnitin matches

Remember that Turnitin is only a text matching tool; staff marking assignments are the detectors of plagiarism. The overall similarity percentage is not in itself an indicator of plagiarism - it depends what the match consists of.

Turnitin has both:

  • False positives (where matches are highlighted to text that is not problematic, eg cover sheets, institutional addresses, reference lists, commonly used references, templates, quotations, appropriately cited tables, standard academic phrases, etc.), and
  • False negatives (where no matches are found, but markers may find similarity to texts by using other software or Google, or checking source texts themselves).

High scores do not necessarily indicate plagiarism; reasons could include lists of appendices or given tables, and extensive use of quotations.

Low scores do not necessarily indicate absence of plagiarism, as Turnitin does not find all plagiarism, and essay writing companies are known to produce texts with 0% match. Low scores may also indicate poor or little research or use of sources, so do not set out with the aim of keeping Turnitin scores low - set out with the aim to write effectively with sources.

More important than the overall similarity are the highest ranked sources in the breakdown of matches. If there are high individual matches, this may indicate plagiarism, or if correctly cited and formatted, may indicate over-reliance on sources, although there may still be understandable reasons for high matches.

Oxford Brookes University adheres to these principles as outlined in the policy.

How to amend an assignment and prepare for final submission

  • Check all possible problems, especially avoid copying and pasting from sources; take notes and write in your own way.
  • Avoid copying from other authors’ reading; only cite texts you have read.
  • Check references and citations very thoroughly so that they are consistent, and format quotes carefully, check for accuracy.
  • Work on effective paraphrasing by using synonyms, changing word forms, changing word order and interpreting ideas from sources in your own way with your own views.
  • Do not change matches that are OK or good practice!

Turnitin logo

Where to get further support