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 submit for assessment purposes may be put through this service. 

By submitting a piece of text to Turnitin, tutors and students can identify matching sources of text in their students' work and their own. 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 plagiarising.

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 or their lecturers at Sheffield Hallam University and every other UK university that subscribes to Turnitin 

Matching sources are presented in colour coded 'Originality Reports' which highlight sections of text that have been found in other sources, and provides 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 will are given the opportunity to use Turnitin, how it will be used and what you will be expected to see when your work is submitted, including whether or not you will see the originality report. 

On some modules you will be allowed to submit a draft assignment as many times as you wish, but a report will only be generated every 24 hours, so submitting multiple times in a row will delay the creation of the report. Other times you are permitted only one draft submission and then one final submission. Some tutors may submit work on your behalf. Contact your module leader if you are not clear how you are permitted to use Turnitin.

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

For more information on the service, view our Turnitin support videos.

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