Help your students view their written work more critically and build academic integrity using Turnitin. Integrated with the Assignments tool in Vula, Turnitin matches individual student texts to texts in its database and returns an Originality report.
Turnitin enables you to authenticate your students’ submissions and helps ensure originality of work
What is Turnitin?
Turnitin is web-based software that matches submitted student work to the texts in its database. The Turnitin database consists of: live and archived internet documents, papers previously submitted to Turnitin from your own and other institutions, and paid for publications to which Turnitin subscribes. When a document is submitted to Turnitin, it will return a Turnitin Originality report, highlighting any pieces of text that exactly match anything in its database, and noting which text in its database the submitted text is similar to.
Why would you use it?
Turnitin is often used to identify possible instances of plagiarism. It is, however, a very rough tool in this regard. Turnitin only tells you that two pieces of text match - it cannot tell you why they match. For example, two student texts may appear to match, but this might be because they both, in similar ways, paraphrase a third text, such as a popular course reading. If used thoughtfully, Turnitin can be a useful tool for helping students to recognise when their writing is too reliant on the texts of others.
Enabling students to view their work more critically by providing them with a tool to identify possible instances of “copying and pasting” from original texts, is one way of helping students to take responsibility for and ownership of their writing. It also reinforces the idea that writing is an iterative process with the writing and editing of multiple drafts. A careful reading of a Turnitin report can also help students to see when they, their voice, ideas and arguments, are missing from the text.
How can you use it?
The easiest way to use Turnitin with your students’ texts is to work through Vula. The lecturer creates an assignment on Vula, and in the set-up process selects the Turnitin option. Students submit their assignments. Vula submits the assignments to Turnitin which matches individual student texts to texts in their database. Turnitin then returns an Originality report to Vula, which makes the report available to the author and lecturers on the site. Lecturers can then use the Turnitin report to support their grading and comment process. You can find a video on how to interpret the originality report here. Lecturers can also use the Turnitin grading suite which supports the creation of rubrics and marking codes.
To support the development of student writing, we recommend that lecturers opt for at least one resubmission option when setting up a Vula assignment, and enabling students to view the report. This would allow students to submit their text, receive their report, edit their text in light of the report, and resubmit a better draft. Over time, and with additional support, this is likely to support better writing outcomes in student writers.
As a Masters or PhD student how do I use Turnitin for my thesis?
You should automatically have access to Turnitin Faculty Vulasite, see this guide. You can submit multiple times to the site, and when you can discuss the Turnitin results with your supervisor. Ensure your final full dissertation is uploaded to the Turntin faculty site on Vula. When you submit, you and your supervisor will need to confirm that you have gone through the Turntiin process.
Links and resources
Turnitin for UCT Postgraduate Students - for Masters and PhD dissertations [webpage]
Interpreting a Turnitin Similarity Index [video]
CILT workshop on Conversations about Turnitin [event recording | resource folder] CILT workshop (video) and further resources including plagiarism and writing support