All instructors at Conestoga College have access to the TurnItIn document-checking service, which analyzes student assignments to identify plagiarism and inadequate sourcing. This service can be accessed by enabling the “Similarity Check” feature in any eConestoga assignment submission folder.

Creating a Submission Folder

If you have not yet created an assignment folder, you can do so very quickly:

  1. Go to Course Tools -> Assignments.
  2. Click New Submission Folder at the top of the screen.
  3. Enter a Name for the submission folder. All other settings on the Properties screen are optional; visit eConestoga Tutorials for further details.
  4. When finished, click Save at the bottom.

Enabling Similarity Check

Once your folder has been created, you can enable the Similarity Check feature for all submissions to that folder:

  1. Go to Course Tools -> Assignments.
  2. Click the drop-down arrow beside the title of your submission folder and choose Edit Assignment.
  3. Click the Evaluation & Feedback block on the right side. Scroll to the bottom, then click Manage TurnItIn.
  4. Note: TurnItIn provides two services that you can access-- GradeMark (which lets you add annotations and comments to submitted files) and Similarity Check (which detects plagiarism). You must enable GradeMark to access the Similarity Check tool, even if you don't plan to make use of GradeMark's annotation features.

  5. Check the box labeled "Enable Similarity Report for this folder".
  6. By default, similarity reports are displayed only to the instructor. To allow your students to see their own similarity reports, check the option to "Allow learners to see similarity scores in their submission folder".
  7. Optionally, you can configure some additional settings by clicking the More Options button:
    • Submission storing: The first setting at the top of the Optional Settings menu, which is oddly unlabeled, controls whether TurnItIn will store a copy of your students' submissions so that future submissions can be checked against them. The default "Standard paper repository" option causes them to be stored; if you would prefer that they not be stored, click the box and choose "Do not store the submitted papers" instead.
    • Compare against: Specify the type of sources you wish TurnItIn to use when checking your students’ files-- other student papers, Internet content, and/or published works.
    • Exclude bibliographic materials and Exclude quoted materials: Instruct TurnItIn to ignore text that appears within proper quotation format or within a bibliography page.
    • Save these settings for future use: If checked, TurnItIn will use the settings you've entered as the default for all assignments you connect to their service in the future.
    • When you're finished with the More Options menu, click "Submit" to close it.

  8. Click "Save" when you're satisfied with your TurnItIn settings.
  9. Click Save and Close at the bottom of the screen.
  10. Allow submission of any file type: TurnItIn is configured to process any standard text-based file such as .DOCX, .TXT, and .HTML. When you enable TurnItIn for any Assignment folder, eConestoga will decline any student file that does not conform to one of these specific document types, or which is larger than TurnItIn's filesize cap of 40MB. If you enable the "Allow submission of any file type" option, the filetype restriction will be ignored, letting students submit any file to the Assignment Folder. However, unsupported files will still not be checked. Also, this option does not lift the filesize restriction-- as long as TurnItIn is enabled, the 40MB filesize cap will always be enforced.

Viewing Similarity Reports

Once you enable Similarity Check for any assignment submission folder, all future student submissions to that folder will automatically be checked by TurnItIn, and a Similarity Report will be generated which identifies the quantity and source of any potentially plagiarized passages. To view these reports:

  1. Go to Course Tools -> Assignments.
  2. Click the drop-down arrow beside the folder's title and choose View Submissions.
  3. You will see a list of all documents that students have submitted to the folder. Beside each student's document will be a coloured box with a percentage beside it; this percentage is the student's Similarity Score, which represents the percentage of text within that student's document that TurnItIn believes came from another source.
  4. The submissions screen for an assignment folder is shown, with two assignments submitted by students. One has a TurnItIn similarity score of 23%, indicating some likely plagiarism, while the other has a score of 0%, indicating a mostly original work.
  5. Click the coloured box beside any submission to be taken to the student's Similarity Report in the TurnItIn Feedback Studio.
The detailed similarity report is shown. Passages within the text are highlighted, and a panel on the right side of the screen indicates the source the student likely copied from.

    TurnItIn's Similarity Report presents the text of the student's original submitted file with highlights over any text that their system believes to have come from another source. Each identified source is given its own colour code, with that colour laid over any text that matches it.

Using TurnItIn To Assess Academic Integrity

It's important to note that TurnItIn similarity scores are not an objective indication of plagiarism. A student writing honestly could end up with a high similarity score if, for example, they cited their quotes in a manner that TurnItIn's software didn't recognize, or if several students were writing papers on the same topic and overlapped their quotes and conclusions by chance. Conversely, a student could heavily plagiarize an assignment and not show up at all if they changed enough words within the stolen text. Because of this, faculty are strongly advised not to create hard rules for students around their scores, like "Your assignments must have a Similarity Score under 30%."

Ultimately, TurnItIn will not tell you "Student A cheated, and Student B did not". Instead, it tells you that "Student A's assignment probably merits a closer look". Regardless of what the system reports, any final determination of academic integrity will always come down to the judgment of the faculty.