What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a service that compares your work against a database of academic sources, student papers and websites to see if any text matches. Any work you upload for assessment purposes may be put through this service.

By uploading a piece of work to Turnitin, tutors and students can identify areas of matching text. This enables the user to identify the level of matching words, poor citation and copying and to assess the originality of the writing. You can use the information in the report to help avoid plagiarism.

Turnitin searches your text for matches with:

  • the internet and archived copies of websites
  • academic journal articles from electronic databases
  • the entire database of work submitted by students and lecturers at Sheffield Hallam University and every other UK university that subscribes to Turnitin

Matching sources are presented in colour coded 'Originality Reports', together with a 'Similarity Index'. In a piece of text which has a large number of references, you would expect the level of matches to be higher than in a piece of creative or reflective writing.

Use of Turnitin is at the discretion of individual tutors. As such its use may vary between modules, including modules where your tutor does not use Turnitin. Your tutor will tell you if you can use Turnitin and what you will be expected to see when your work is uploaded, including whether or not you will receive an originality report. Please note:

  • On some modules you will be allowed to upload a draft assignment as many times as you wish. The first four times you upload a piece of work to the same Turnitin assignment, the report will start generating immediately. However, starting with the fifth time you upload your work, a report will only start generating after a 24 hour delay, so uploading multiple times will delay the creation of the report.
  • Other times you are permitted only one draft submission and then one final submission.
  • Some tutors may upload work on your behalf. Contact your module leader if you do not understand how to use Turnitin.

If your work shows an unacceptable level of matching, an academic member of staff may provide feedback on how to avoid this. Turnitin helps academic staff identify unoriginal content in your work, and enables them to investigate whether this is correctly citied or plagiarised. Where suspected plagiarism is detected, you may be called to an Academic Conduct Panel where your Turnitin Originality Report is presented as evidence of cheating.

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