Turnitin, arguably is the world’s most widely recognized plagiarism detection system.

Digital technologies have made it easier for students to cheat on their term papers. Lecturers will attest that unacceptable academic practices, such as plagiarism, collusion, falsification and replication are becoming more common amongst their students. Technology has also introduced new mechanisms to detect illegal practices that threaten the quality of degrees, like Turnitin. This popular tool is used to help universities to detect copying in papers and research. The Turnitin database is designed to make comparisons between texts contained within a document against  220+ million archived student papers, 90,000+ journals, periodicals & books; 1+ million active instructors; 20+ billion web pages crawled.

Turnitin provides a faster way of electronically checking documents and this encourages correct citation of other people’s material. Turnitin or “turn it in” has been around since the 1990s. It is used in 10,000 educational institutions; 20+ million licensed students in 126 countries.  At Wits, Turnitin can be accessed via two routes. It has been integrated with the university’s new eLearning platform, Wits-e. This means that any assignment that is submitted on Wits-e can make use of the checker. For those not on Sakai, Turnitin can also be accessed via a stand along application at: https://elearn.wits.ac.za/turnitin

 By scanning for similarities in phrases from billions of web pages, books, and periodicals, the Turnitin service can efficiently assist academics detect web-based plagiarism. However, the final responsibility for determining the authenticity of the work still lies with the academic. Turnitin generates a “percentage similarity Index”. This is a measure of the percentage of the paper that the system was able to find matching text for, regardless of whether or not the text was properly cited. The determination and adjudication of proper citation and plagiarism is left to the instructor. This percentage similarity index simply indicates that plagiarism might have occurred or no proper citation has been done. 

To access the percentage similarity report, click on the percentage score and the report will open up in a new window. With an overwhelming abundance of digital  sources and the consumptive media practices of students, it not surprising that academics are looking for measures to assist them prevent cyber cheating.  Turnitin, arguably the world’s most widely recognized plagiarism detection system, offers academics a useful tool to determine whether another's original words or ideas are being submitted as though they were their own.

Last modified on 2012-06-26 by Nkaba Senne