Undergraduate Teaching 2022-23

Turnitin text-matching software: information

Turnitin text-matching software: information

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The University subscribes to Turnitin UK software which is widely used in UK universities and matches text in work submitted to the software to that in a large database of online sources. 

Plagiarism and good academic practice: your responsibilities

You should ensure that you are familiar with the  Department's guidance on good academic practice (including appropriate referencing conventions) and avoiding academic misconduct.  If, after reading this guidance, you have any outstanding queries, you should seek clarification at the earliest opportunity from your Director of Studies or supervisor.

You should also familiarise yourself with the University's Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct website, which also features links to useful resources and guidance.

About Turnitin UK text-matching software

Who controls the service?

Turnitin UK is part of the JISC Plagiarism Advisory Service (JISCPAS).  This University is the recognised data controller for the data held and processed by, or on behalf of, the service.  An American company, iParadigms, is the data processor.

How does Turnitin UK work?

Turnitin UK may detect direct plagiarism, paraphrasing and collusion as submitted work is compared with a vast database of online material and with a ‘private’ database of previous submissions.  Therefore, submitting work to the database helps to protect it from future attempts to plagiarise it, and helps to maintain the integrity of the University’s qualifications.

The software makes no judgement about whether a student has plagiarised, it simply shows the percentage of the submission that matches other sources and produces an originality report which highlights the text matches and, where possible, displays the matching text and its immediate context.

In many cases the software highlights correctly cited references or ‘innocent’ matches.  Therefore, examiners will carefully review all originality reports to determine whether the work does contain plagiarism.

How will Turnitin UK be used in the Department of Engineering?

Turnitin is only one method of checking the originality of work submitted electronically. Work submitted for assessment in the Department of Engineering will be subjected to spot checks from time to time, or in cases where there is cause for concern. Students should note that, upon screening work, the resulting originality reports will be referred only to the examiners responsible for the academic assessment of the work if there is prima facie evidence of plagiarism or poor academic practice. 

Examiners may initiate the standard investigative procedures if they have unresolved queries about the originality of your work, regardless of whether Turnitin has been used or whether it has substantiated any concerns. The University Advocate may decide to prosecute a student suspected of plagiarism, or collusion to plagiarise (this includes allowing another student to copy your work), even where that student has not consented to the use of Turnitin.  In such circumstances the student may be specifically asked by the Advocate to consent to submission to Turnitin and a failure to consent will be proved as part of the evidence against him or her.

What will happen if matches are identified between my work and another source?

If Turnitin UK detects matches between your work and another source, the examiners will review the resulting originality report to judge whether the matches are innocent, or whether you have appropriately referenced these matches (if not, this may constitute plagiarism), and/or whether you have made excessive use of material from other sources (which may be poor academic practice).

The examiners will mark your work purely on the basis of its academic merit.  However, depending on the extent and context of the matches, your work may be referred to the proctors for further investigation.  In such cases the Turnitin UK originality report may be used as evidence.  If you are found to have plagiarised the penalty may be severe and your degree may be withheld. 

Will Turnitin UK affect my intellectual property rights or copyright?

The copyright and intellectual property rights of the submitted material remain wholly with the original owner (normally the student, with the exception of some collaborative or sponsored research projects).  However, you are asked to permit Turnitin UK to:

  • reproduce your work to assess it for originality;
  • retain a copy of your work for comparison at a later date with future submissions.

Will my personal data be retained by Turnitin UK?

Material submitted to Turnitin UK will be identified by your examination number, course details and institution: personal data will not be used. 

What will happen if text submitted by another student matches that in my work?

Matches to text submitted from other HE institutions

If a report generated by another institution identifies a match to your work the report will only show the extent of the match and the contact details of the University’s Turnitin UK Administrator.  If approached, the Turnitin UK Administrator will attempt to contact you about the matter.  The contents of your work will not be revealed to a third party outside Cambridge without your permission.

Matches to text submitted from within the University

If a match is found to material submitted from within the University, the examiners can obtain the full text without approaching you. 

How do I apply for my work to be removed from Turnitin UK?

Work submitted to Turnitin UK will be stored indefinitely on the Turnitin UK database unless you specifically request that it be removed.  To maximise the effectiveness of the software it is hoped that such requests will be kept to a minimum.  However, once examinations have been concluded, you may at any time contact the CUED Turnitin Co-ordinator to request that your work be removed.

Last updated on 02/10/2019 16:58