Turnitin

Table of Contents

User guides & support

See Turnitin’s comprehensive Help Center for user guides and support if you do not find your answer below.

Rules governing the use of plagiarism detection software

Jacobs University uses plagiarism detection software to evaluate academic work against its adherence to the Code of Academic Integrity. To that end,

  1. Faculty inform their classes about the use of plagiarism detection software.
  2. Not faculty, but students themselves upload their work to Turnitin.

Instructors getting started with Turnitin

If you want to use Turnitin plagiarism detection software as an instructor there are two main steps:

  1. Mail a request for an account id and join password to irc-library@jacobs-university.de.
  2. Read section But what about students’ copyright? on this page.
  3. Acquaint yourself with Turnitin.

The Instructor Quickstart Guide gives an excellent overview of basic functions. Also have a look at the User Manuals, Quickstart Guides, and Video Clips for instructors available in the Turnitin Training Center.

For general questions students might have with regard to the use of plagiarism detection software, see also the frequently asked questions about the use of plagiarism detection software below.

Teaching assistants getting started with Turnitin

Instructors can grant a teaching assistant access to a Section of a Master Class so that the teaching assistant may use Turnitin on the instructor’s behalf for those class sections. Typically an instructor would grant an assistant access to a section, to which students will submit their papers. Please note that this functionality is only available for Turnitin classes of type “Master Class”, and that for one class only one teaching assistant can be set up.

As an instructor,

  1. Log in to Turnitin.
  2. Click on tab “All Classes”: a list of all classes is shown.
  3. Find the Master class for that you want to set up a teaching assistant.
  4. Do one of the following:
    1. If a section for that class exists already, click on the “gear-wheel” icon of that section: the window “Update section” is shown.
    2. If a section for that class does not exist already, click on the link “+Section” (next to the class name): the window “Create a new section” is shown.
  5. On screen “TA information (step 1 of 2)”, provide the teaching assistant’s (TA’s) details:
    • TA’s first name: …
    • TA’s last name: …
    • TA’s email address: …

    and click on button “Submit”.

  6. On screen “TA information (step 2 of 2)”, provide the section details:
    • Section name or number:
      1. If you are updating a section, leave section name unchanged.
      2. If you are creating a section, provide a name for that section.
    • Section enrollment password: …

    and click on button “Submit”.

  7. The list of all classes is shown again.

As a teaching assistant

  1. After the instructor has performed the steps above, you will receive an e-mail with instructions.
  2. Follow the instructions in that e-mail.
  3. Once logged in to Turnitin, make sure you are correctly identified in the upper right toolbar as “Instructor”. If you are identified as “Student”, click on the “arrow-down” icon to change to the instructor view.

Students getting started with Turnitin

If your professor or instructor has announced that she or he will be using Turnitin plagiarism detection software, the following is important for you to know:

  1. How to enroll in a class set up by your instructor.
  2. How to submit your paper to Turnitin.

The Student Quickstart Guide covers both points. Also have a look at the User Manuals, Quickstart Guides, and Video Clips for students available in the Turnitin Training Center.

What is considered plagiarism?

One of the most common definitions of plagiarism is using other people’s work, thoughts, writings without giving proper attribution, that is, showing it off as if it were your own work.

In order to avoid plagiarism, which can be both intentional as well as unintentional, you need to:

  • organize your research well, keep notes of your research and clearly separate your own thoughts and writings from those that you pick up while reading through stuff you picked up in books, journals, and on the web,
  • properly cite resources that you use, unfortunately, each academic discipline has its own methods for making citations.

A website that might be helpful is Iris (scroll down the menu on the left to get to the plagiarism module). Another interesting source might be Purdue University’s online writing lab.

When in doubt: consult your instructor. Remember, the goal is to prevent plagiarism—saving both students’, teaching faculty’s and AIC’s valuable time.

How does plagiarism detection software work?

After you have uploaded your paper to the plagiarism detection service, your paper is indexed and compared with other papers in the database of the detection service, with stuff generally available on the web, as well as with electronic texts (books, articles) from science publishers. The software searches for matching substrings of text.

If such substrings are found, they are presented to your instructor in the context of your paper as well as in the context of the paper that matched. It is up to your instructor to decide whether or not this is a case of plagiarism. The detection services only give an indication.

Jacobs University’s legal counsel looked into this and concluded:

As long as the students works are temporarily reproduced for matters of detecting plagiarism (and deleted afterwards), this kind of use is allowed under the German Copyright Act. Further uses that go beyond this purpose—including storage in a database for future plagiarism detection of other works—require the consent of the copyright holder.

This implies that the university has a right to check a student’s work for plagiarism by using a detection service. However, the university cannot oblige a student to store his or her work permanently in Turnitin’s repository.

You should keep in mind though that Turnitin does not republish a work in any way, but only uses it for comparison with future submissions. In a very real sense, Turnitin protects a student’s copyright.

Nevertheless, if a student does not want his or her work to be stored in Turnitin’s repository, the instructor can adjust the setting whether or not a student’s work is stored in Turnitin’s repository.

How to adjust the setting whether or not a student’s work is stored in Turnitin’s repository?

As an instructor, you may decide on an assignment level, whether or not papers submitted to this assignment are also submitted to Turnitin’s paper repository. Turnitin’s paper repository is—among other sources—used as a reference when Turnitin checks a paper for plagiarism. The repository settings are part of the “Optional settings” of each assignment.

To view the optional settings of an already existing assignment, as an instructor:,

  1. Log in to Turnitin.
  2. Click on tab “All Classes”: a list of all classes is shown.
  3. In column “Class name”, click on the name of the class, under which your assignment is stored: a list of assignments is shown.
  4. In the drop-down menu “More actions” of your assignment, choose “Edit settings”: the screen “Update Paper Assignment” is shown.
  5. Click on “Optional settings”: the optional settings of your assignment are shown.

To view the optional settings when you create an assignment, as an instructor:

  1. Log in to Turnitin.
  2. Click on tab “All Classes”: a list of all classes is shown.
  3. In column “Class name”, click on the name of the class, for which you want to create an assignment: the assignments screen is shown.
  4. Click on button “Add Assignment”: a list of assignment types is displayed.
  5. Choose assignment type “Paper Assignment” and click on button “Next step”: the screen “New Assignment” is shown.
  6. Click on “Optional Settings”: the optional settings of your assignment are shown.

How to set whether or not papers are submitted to the repository:

  1. See the currently set option for setting “Submit papers to:”
  2. Setting “Submit papers to” has two possible options:
    • “standard paper repository”: the submitted papers will be stored in Turnitin’s paper repository
    • “no repository”: the submitted papers will not be stored in Turnitin’s repository
  3. You may want to change setting “Submit papers to” and save your changes by clicking on button “Submit”.

The benefit of choosing option “standard paper repository” is that the students’ papers submitted to this assignment will be used to check future students’ papers for plagiarism. In that way, you ensure that students do not “recycle” the work of their predecessors without you or your colleagues being aware of that.

Choose option “no repository” if a student objected to the submission of his or her paper to the repository. In that case, you will use this Turnitin assignment for that student only. Other examples for using this option are assignments that you created to do a test run of a plagiarism check prior to the actual check, or assignments for papers that are protected by patent law or third parties’ copyright.

After having checked a paper for plagiarism, you may want to print its Originality Report—either on paper or to a PDF file. To that end, you will have to open the paper in the Turnitin Document Viewer first.

To open a paper in the Turnitin Document Viewer, as an instructor:

  1. Log in to Turnitin.
  2. Click on tab “All Classes”: a list of all classes is shown.
  3. In column “Class name”, click on the name of the class in question: a list of all assignments of that class is shown.
  4. In column “Actions”, click on “View” to view all assignments of that class: the assignment inbox is shown.
  5. In column “Similarity” click on the similarity percentage value of the paper in question: the document viewer pops up showing the submitted paper on the left hand side and the “Match Overview” on the right hand side.

To print the paper’s Originality Report, as an instructor:

  1. In the Turnitint Document Viewer, click on “Text-Only Report” in the lower-right corner: The Originality Report is shown.
  2. In the upper-right corner click on the “Print” icon: the print preview of the Originality Report is shown.
  3. On your keyboard, use the shortcut “Ctrl” + “p” in order to open up the print dialogue.
  4. In order to print on paper, choose one of the listed paper printers; choose “PDF Creator” in order to print to PDF.
  5. If you only want to print the results, under “Print range” fill in: “Pages from: 1 to: 1”.
  6. Click on the “Print” button.

What happens if a student is suspected of plagiarism?

The goal is to prevent plagiarism, which is why use of Turnitin is set up as transparently as possible.

In line with this, you should always keep in mind, and adhere to Jacobs University’s Code of Academic Integrity.

If your instructor is of the opinion you committed plagiarism, she or he will inform you about this and about the sanction. If you agree with the sanction, this has no further direct consequence, except that the sanction will be put on record at Academic Affairs. If this occurs a second time, the case will be brought before the Academic Integrity Committee, with sanctions which could be as drastic as expulsion from Jacobs University.