Turnitin is one of the most popular plagiarism checkers on the market with thousands of institutions currently leveraging its system. With one of the largest databases of books, articles, journals and publications, archives, and student submissions, Turnitin provides some of the most accurate plagiarism tests and reports.
This article aims to answer questions both teachers and students might have about the use of the tool and plagiarism indexes in generated reports.
How Does Turnitin Work
Most free plagiarism checkers compare submitted documents against Google’s index to identify similarities while premium plagiarism checkers like Turnitin compare documents against Google’s index, their own databases of student submissions and books, newspapers, and journals from other publishers, library databases, digital reference collections, and subscription-based publications.
Using a matching algorithm, plagiarism checkers find and compare strings of text from submission with their database to identify similarities.
It is worth noting that while these systems are referred to as plagiarism checkers, they do not identify any incidence of plagiarism but simply show the degree of similarity between submission and content available in their databases and other sources.
The instructor is responsible for interpreting and identifying plagiarism based on the similarity report presented.
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Turnitin Similarity How Much Is Too Much
Completely eliminating plagiarism in an academic submission can be a challenging endeavor especially when multiple academic sources are consulted.
Cited facts or responses from research cannot be paraphrased which can lead to plagiarism checkers identifying and flagging such content. So, with that said, how much similarity is too much
Excluding citations, a 10% maximum plagiarism index is highly recommended and acceptable in most academic settings. However, this number differs depending on the academic institution with some accepting a high plagiarism index of 20% to 30%, citations inclusive.
In the case of a journal or research article where authenticity and originality are key, a plagiarism index of 10% or lower is recommended while a 20% maximum plagiarism index would be acceptable in a Master’s paper. It is worth noting that Turnitin provides instructors an option to exclude text appearing in quotes from any plagiarism check.
That said, educational institutions or instructors are responsible for refining the similarity report as Turnitin enables them to leverage the available similarity report filters to exclude identified sources below a specified threshold, exclude quotes, or full sources.
Is 36% Similarity on Turnitin Bad
Any plagiarism index beyond 30% on Turnitin’s originality reports is considered bad by most educational institutions if similarity excludes sources and quotes.
Depending on the length of your submission and the number of sources cited, a similarity report may indicate a higher plagiarism index when filters aren’t used to exclude sources from an originality test.
Turnitin’s color-coded originality report provides a source list which makes it easy for instructors to identify the origin of each respective matching text including the references list. If the reference list makes up a majority of plagiarism in a report, it’s usually ignored by most instructors.
What Does It Mean When Turnitin Says 0 Similarity
Zero (0) similarity on Turnitin is the ideal originality score every student aims with their submissions. Seeing this number is no cause for alarm as it simply means:
Turnitin’s similarity test against their sources showed that the student submitted an original work that does not match any of the enabled sources used by Turnitin for that particular similarity check.
If content copied from a source still shows a zero percent (0%) plagiarism index, this could be a result of the assignment settings used by the instructor or the original paper unavailable in Turnitin’s Paper Repository and other leveraged sources.
When Is A Turnitin Percentage Of 40 Good Or Bad?
When your work is properly cited and a majority of flagged content in the report represents references, bibliography, and other cited sources.
Instructors who identify a majority of flagged content falling under these categories would most likely overlook the high plagiarism index.
How To Reduce Similarity on Turnitin
- Use Quotation marks where necessary in your submission. It is however recommended that quotations are used in moderation to avoid getting penalized. A typical example is someone who simply decides to quote a third or more of their assignment. While this may be accepted in certain instances, students still stand the risk of getting penalized for this action.
- Appropriately cite your sources using in-text citations and referencing using APA or MLA formats. Turnitin provides similarity report filters which when used can exclude properly formatted identified sources during originality tests.
- Use paraphrasing. Learn to paraphrase sentences where necessary to reduce the use of quotations. Paraphrasing tools like Quillbot can also be leveraged to rephrase sentences for submission. It is worth noting that while most plagiarism checkers, free and paid, are unable to detect paraphrasing, some are able to identify changed words.
- Enable similarity report filters. Ensure that your instructor leverages Turnitin’s similarity report filters to remove quotations, bibliographies, references, and other small matches (under 1%) from similarity tests.
Does Turnitin Check Previously Submitted Work
Yes. Based on their license agreement, previous submissions are stored in Turnitin’s Paper Repository and included in future originality checks. This means Turnitin would check any submissions against previously submitted work.
Students who would like a submission deleted from Turnitin’s Paper Repository would need to contact their academic institutions for a member of staff to contact Turnitin. Once contacted, it can take up to 2 weeks for the paper to be deleted.
You should note that using portions or all of an already submitted work constitutes self-plagiarism which is considered an unethical activity similar to plagiarism. It’s necessary to acquire the necessary permissions from your instructor before using any portions of an already submitted work.
Can You Submit A Paper To Turnitin Twice
Yes, so long as it’s not past the paper’s due date and the assignment permits resubmission, each resubmission is treated as a first-time submission overwriting any previous submissions on the same account. Students can resubmit assignments as many times as necessary until the final delivery date expires.
In the case where your instructor specifically chose to enable late submissions, only students who are yet to submit their papers will be able to do so.
How To Check Similarity On Turnitin Before Submitting
If your institution uses Turnitin as its primary plagiarism checker, it’s best to use Turnitin’s self-checker through student accounts provided by your institution to check for similarity before submitting.
It’s not advisable to use other plagiarism checkers if your institution uses Turnitin or any other premium plagiarism checker. Most premium plagiarism checkers use Google index as well as their proprietary databases of submissions from schools using these tools.
This makes them the best to identify any previous submissions from these institutions. Other plagiarism checkers which are not used by the institution would be unable to check against the school’s previous submissions as they wouldn’t have access to this database.
Your school’s plagiarism checker of choice may therefore be able to identify plagiarized content that others would be unable to.
Is There A Free Version Of Turnitin
No. Turnitin is only available on a subscription basis to universities and other institutions. However, there’re numerous free plagiarism checkers including SmallSEOTools, Quetext, and, Duplichecker that do a decent job at detecting plagiarism by comparing submissions with Google index and other sources.
We checked most of the free plagiarism checkers online and found these three to produce decent results. You should note that most free plagiarism checkers do not have their own databases but rely on Google’s index for comparison.