This document describes Turnitin and how to use it within UW Extended Campus courses.
What is Turnitin?
Turnitin is a tool within Canvas that, when enabled for specific assignments, monitors student submissions and automatically compares them with content that already exists elsewhere, such as web pages and professional publications. Turnitin then produces a similarity report for the course instructor that provides a breakdown of any matching content along with direct links to the sources of the existing content. Instructors use Turnitin particularly when it's important that each student demonstrate their ability to create original work that does not unfairly copy content from elsewhere. For more on why this tool is used, see Does Turnitin Detect Plagiarism?
Which Assignments use Turnitin?
Some instructors specify in a course's syllabus which assignments use Turnitin to check content originality. If you are a student who cannot determine which assignments use Turnitin, please contact your instructor.
How Does a Student Find Their Submission's Similarity Score?
Students need to access their submitted assignment to see the similarity score. Please see Accessing the Similarity Report. The score appears as a percentage, which is Turnitin's estimation of how much of a submission's content can be found elsewhere. For information on what this score means, see Interpreting the Similarity Report.
In general, student submissions are compared against two sources: information publicly available on the Internet and all other student papers submitted to the Turnitin paper repository. Because of the latter, students and instructors will sometimes see the similarity score increase the second or third time a student submits a paper, because the Turnitin database has saved a copy of the original for comparison purposes.
How Does Turnitin Protect Student Data Privacy?
Both UW System and Turnitin care about the privacy of student data. The University of Wisconsin asks that all tools integrated with Canvas go through a review and approval process before they can be integrated. Part of this process involves reviewing how a tool stores and transmits data. When a tool such as Turnitin is approved for integration, it is because the vendor has demonstrated security policies in line with the University of Wisconsin standards.