These FAQs are a collection of queries that have come in from users of Canvas at Hull.

You can search the FAQ database to see if your question has already been answered. Our entire list of FAQs can be seen below.


Interpreting the Turnitin Originality Report for Staff

Assignments submitted to Turnitin through the Assignments Tool in Canvas will produce an Originality Report. The report highlights matches with other documents scanned by Turnitin and it will also show the source for that match. Viewing the report will help: detect plagiarism; identify the evidence to support an unfair means claim and to understand some of the student’s approach and failings with regard to academic practice. (Links to an external site.)

Detecting Plagiarism

Turnitin does not identify plagiarism, it simply matches text. The report doesn’t separate correctly cited work from attempts to cheat. The report will also show common phrases such as ‘on the one hand’. Turnitin will also fail to identify where text has been paraphrased from another source without reference. The University Regulations on the Use of Unfair Means identify The primary test of plagiarism as follows ‘This is the presence or absence of quotation marks, and adequate acknowledgement of sources and authorities in text and/or reference notes in bibliographies or lists of sources.’

After students submit work to Turnitin via Canvas, the Originality Report is generated and a report icon will be visible in the Turnitin column. The colour of this icon will vary depending on the similarity score given by Turnitin. If it is red, then the similarity against other documents is 75-100%, orange 50-75%, yellow 25-50%, green 1-25% and blue no matching text.

The percentages themselves should not be taken as the only measure of plagiarism as there are a number of reasons why 25% may in fact have less plagiarism than a piece of work reporting 12%, for example. A high percentage may indicate poor academic practice, overuse of quotations or plagiarism. Where the score is nearer to 100% this is likely to be erroneous resubmission of a previous piece of work or completely copied or purchased work.

For useful ways to identify plagiarism in work view Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers (Links to an external site.) (Harris, 2012).

Understanding the Report

Moving your mouse pointer over the report icon causes a pop-up to show the exact similarity figure. When the icon is clicked the Turnitin Originality Report will open.

You can download or print a PDF version of the report. This contains the same information but loses the interactivity of the web interface. Click either of the two icons  at the top of the screen.

There are three areas in the Originality Report screen. The document viewer frame shows the Similarity Index for the work and the Title and Author of the work. The left-hand panel displays the paper text and the right-hand panel displays the matching sources of text.

The example report below shows that 55% of the work has been matched to other sources. The red section shows that 22% of the essay can be found athttp://dictionary.reference.com (Links to an external site.)

Checking Matched Text

Where Turnitin has found matches it will report them in different ways. Websites, books and journals
will be identified. Student papers within the repository will identify the institution to which the work was submitted. You will not be able to view the work without contacting the institution to ask them for permission.
Where plagiarism is suspected you may need to request a copy of the work from another institution. This can be done by clicking on the matching text in the left panel. A popup will show the text and ‘Submitted to . Clicking on the name of the institution will open a screen allowing you to request the work. Turnitin will then send an email to the instructor responsible for the class to which the work was submitted asking them to email the work to you.

It can be helpful to filter the details in the report to lower the number of matches. Bibliographies, quotations and word groupings can be excluded using the links above the document text panel. Quotations in ‘single quotes’
rather than “double quote” will still be highlighted if the option to exclude quotations is selected.

It is worth noting that Turnitin will not be able to check all possible sources. Turnitin keeps secret the exact sources they do check against, but mention 20 billion web pages, 220 million student papers at 10 thousand educational institutions and 90 thousand other publications. On occasion Turnitin will identify an incorrect source. This can occur because the text appears in more than one place e.g. multiple websites.

Where matching text has been identified you should consider whether the text represents an attempt to present the work of others as their own or simply poor academic writing. Using the Originality Report can help identify issues with the student work and give feedback and directions to support.

A large number of generic resources to support students with academic writing are available on the Skills Team web pages at http://libguides.hull.ac.uk/skills.

Other Questions

What file formats will Turnitin accept?
Most common word-processing formats are accepted. Turnitin will accept documents in Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, PostScript, PDF, HTML, RTF, and plain text. Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel documents and formats for computer programming languages are not accepted.

What is the maximum file size that Turnitin accepts?
The maximum file size is approximately 20MB.


Harris, J (2012).
Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers. [online] Available at: http://www.virtualsalt.com/antiplag.htm (Links to an external site.) [Accessed 29 August 2012]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Category: Assessment
Did you find this FAQ helpful?