Using academic judgement

Information about how to interpret Turnitin originality reports

Originality reports

After a piece of work has been submitted to Turnitin, an originality report (OR) is generated. The OR consists of a percentage score which represents how much text within the submission has been found in other sources. This score can be made up of many smaller percentages or one larger percentage which are identified and highlighted when viewing the OR. Certain aspects of the text within the submission can be excluded if appropriate

These items are:

  • Bibliography – if a cohort are all using similar resources to inform their work, then it is possible to exclude bibliographies and references to achieve a fairer percentage.
  • Small matches – if the percentage score is made up of many tiny percentages, it may be beneficial to exclude scores under 1 or 2% to give a more representative percentage.
  • Quotes – for some subjects (for example Law and English), extensive quotes are necessary. In cases such as these, it is possible to exclude quotes within the text being counted towards the final percentage score.

However, the percentage score is only an indicator and plagiarism cannot be determined without further investigation. As Faculties, Schools, and Institutes will have different expectations on what percentage score is acceptable.

It has to be remembered that Turnitin should only be used as a support to the normal marking mechanism and not as a finite process. The normal indicators that tutors would need out look out for, i.e. inconsistency of writing style within the assessment, a higher level of work than expected or even the recognition of published work within the text should remain the priority. The Office of the Dean of Students has produced a document with guidance for academic staff (PDF - 40k- opens in a new window) based on recent Academic Misconduct cases, which highlight other areas to be aware of. There is more infomation about Academic Misconduct on the Conduct and Appeals website

“The University will not be setting a percentage figure for matched-text content above which academic misconduct is automatically suspected - this remains a matter of academic judgement appropriate to the discipline area” Jon Elsmore.

Conducts and Appeals Process

During the marking process a number of decision points are reached in cases of suspected Academic Misconduct. This flow diagram shows where these are made, by whom and procedures that follow these decisions.

Conduct and appeals diagram

Staff training

Turnitin also offer a variety of 45 minute live training sessions via video conferencing, including how to interpret Originality Reports. These are run by specialists and participants are always encouraged to ask questions. The equipment you will need to access these sessions are a computer, internet connection and headphone/microphone.

The CTEL team will be providing training sessions which explore how OR’s can be interpreted. Contact to book on a session.