Turnitin FAQ



What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a Web-based service that can find and highlight matching or unoriginal text in a written assignment. It uses data-mining to compile a large database of electronic academic materials which it indexes and stores. Faculty can send their students' assignments to the Turnitin database or else set up to allow students to send their own assignments to the service for checking.

Turnitin basically checks the assignment against its database of materials to look for matches or near-matches in strings of text. Turnitin then generates an Originality Report online. The Originality Report summarizes and highlights matching text.

Students find the Originality Report useful for editing papers that include too many quotes and paraphrases. Faculty find the Originality Report useful as a tool to teach students proper citation practices and highlight the need for more student originality. Faculty can also use Turnitin as a tool to detect possible instances of plagiarism.

It is up to the users of Turnitin to analyze and interpret matching text in the Originality Report. Help screens within the Turnitin interface go into more detail.

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How do faculty and teaching assistants get started?

Login to Turnitin Instructions for UMUC Faculty and Teaching Assistants with your last name and EMPL ID or barcode. (If you need your EMPL ID or barcode, please see Library Barcodes and ID Cards.) 

The instructions for faculty and teaching assistants include  the following:

    • Accessing Turnitin: New Users, Returning Users
    • Creating a Class: Standard Classes, Master Classes and  Sections
    • Creating Assignments
    • Uploading Assignments: By Students, By Faculty or Teaching  Assistant
    • Reading and Interpreting Originality Reports
    • Creating Revision Assignments

If you want students to enroll in your Turnitin class and  upload their own assignments, you must give students this information: 

    • Tell students to go to How do students get started? for instructions on the following:
        • setting up an account if they are new users, OR
        • logging in if they already have a Turnitin account
        • enrolling in a Turnitin class
        • submitting an assignment
        • reading originality reports
    • Give students this information to enroll in your Turnitin class:
      Turnitin class ID number: ________
      The enrollment password faculty creates for the class: _____________

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How do students get started?

Instructors should give students their Turnitin class ID and class enrollment password in order to use Turnitin for that class.

New users: Create a user profile

  • Go to Turnitin.
  • At the upper right, click Create account.
  • At the next screen, under Create a New Account, select student.
  • Enter the Turnitin class ID and the class enrollment password. (Your instructor should supply this information. The library will not have the Turnitin class ID or enrollment password.)
  • Continue to fill out the form with your name and e-mail address. Create your personal Turnitin login password and confirm it. Select a secret question and answer it.  Read through the user agreement and, if you agree, click I agree – create profile.

Returning users:  Add your current class to your profile

  • Log in to Turnitin with your e-mail address and the personal login password you created.
  • Click enroll in class, and enter your instructor’s Turnitin class ID and class enrollment password. (Your instructor should supply this information. The library will not have the Turnitin class ID or enrollment password.)

Submit a paper

  • Log in to Turnitin with your e-mail address and the personal login password you created.
  • Once you login you will see a list of your classes. Click your class title to see the list of assignments associated with it.
  • In the assignment list look for the title of your assignment. To the right of the title click the Submit icon.
  • Where you see choose a paper submission method, leave the default setting single file upload.
  • Enter submission title, i.e., the title of your paper.
  • To upload a file, click on the Browse button, find the paper on your disk or computer, then click Upload.
  • Be sure it is the paper you want to send, then click submit.

Read your Originality Report

If your instructor wants you to see your own Originality Reports, please use the following steps. (See our Reading and Understanding Turnitin Originality Reports Tutorial for an in-depth explanation.)

  • Log in to Turnitin with your e-mail address and the personal login password you created.
  • Click your class title.
  • In your assignment in-box, on the line with your assignment title, you will see a percent match and a colored square. Click the colored square to see the Originality Report. If you see Not Available, check with your instructor. Your instructor's assignment settings may not allow students to see their Originality Reports.
  • For help with understanding and interpreting Originality Reports, on the page with the Originality Report, click the help button toward the upper right. There you will find Turnitin’s best information for working with and interpreting reports.

Multiple drafts

See Can students revise work that they submit to Turnitin?

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What are UMUC's guidelines for faculty using Turnitin?

  • Faculty must notify their students in advance that they may be using the Turnitin service. For WebTycho courses, the language below will appear by default in the academic policies section of your syllabus. You should place an announcement in the class announcements section. For face-to-face courses, place the notice in your syllabus and verbally inform students of the service during the first class meeting.

    This notice will appear in the academic policies section of your syllabus:

    The University has a license agreement with Turnitin, an educational tool that helps prevent or identify plagiarism from Internet resources. Your instructor may use the service in this class by requiring you to submit assignments electronically to Turnitin, by submitting assignments on your behalf, or by providing the option for you to check your own work for originality. The Turnitin Originality Report will indicate the amount of original text in your work and whether all material that you quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source is appropriately referenced.


    If you or your instructor submits all or part of your assignment to the Turnitin service, Turnitin will ordinarily store that assignment in its database. The assignment will be checked to see if there is any match between your work and other material stored in Turnitin's database. If you object to long-term storage of your work in the Turnitin database, you must let your instructor know no later than two weeks after the start of this class. You have three options regarding your assignment being stored in the Turnitin database. One, if you do nothing then your assignment will be stored in the Turnitin database for the duration of UMUC's contract with Turnitin. Two, you can ask your instructor to have Turnitin store your assignment only for the duration of the semester or term, then have your assignment deleted from the Turnitin database once the class is over. Three, you can ask your instructor to change the Turnitin settings so that your assignment is not stored in the Turnitin database at any time.

    Faculty who need assistance with these options should contact the library directly.
  • Student papers are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. If faculty send a paper on behalf of a student to Turnitin for evaluation, use an alias instead of the student's name.
  • Please do not submit papers prepared by UMUC students to other plagiarism service providers not supported by UMUC.
  • Please see the full copy of the Faculty Guidelines for Using Turnitin.

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How can Turnitin be used as a teaching and learning tool?

It is easy for faculty to set up Turnitin classes and assignments in such a way that students can see their own Originality Reports and can turn in multiple drafts of an assignment. This way students can edit their first draft and resubmit their assignments if the Originality Report shows more matching text than they desire.

Note to Faculty: Login to Turnitin Instructions for UMUC Faculty and Teaching Assistants for instructions on how to set up assignments so that students can submit multiple drafts to Turnitin and correct their own work. Use the Originality Report for the first draft to point out to students whether they need to improve their citations or include more original analysis and comment.

Note to Students: If the Originality Report for your first draft shows a high percentage of matching text, for example, review and edit your assignment for proper citation. Include more original analysis and comment, then send it to Turnitin again. Turnitin will know not to match the text in your second draft with text in your first draft, and so on.

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How does Turnitin work?

Turnitin uses data-mining to compile a large database of electronic academic materials that it indexes and stores. Use your Web browser to access the Turnitin Web site, then submit assignments electronically by copying and pasting a digital copy of the work (e.g., a Word document or an html document) in a Turnitin text box or by attaching a file, much like in WebTycho. The service then checks the new submission against its database of materials to look for matches or near-matches in strings of text.

Users then login to Turnitin to access the Report Inbox within Turnitin to view an Originality Report generated for each assignment that is uploaded. Faculty can view Originality Reports for each student in the class, but students can only view the Originality Report for their own assignment, not the assignments of other students.

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How complete is Turnitin?

Turnitin has a database of over a million papers and assignments sent to them by students and teachers, a digitized version of the Gutenberg Collection of Literary Classics, and papers pulled from the Internet and various "paper mills," (i.e., services that sell term papers). However, the Turnitin database currently does not search books or articles in subscription databases available through the UMUC Library Databases. It may not find matching text from those sources or from subscription database such as The New York Times on the Web unless those materials also appear in assignments previously sent to Turnitin. For those resources, it is best to search the UMUC Library Databases and/or supplement your Turnitin review by using a Web search engine (e.g., Ask, Google, etc.)

The Faculty Guidelines for Using Turnitin to detect possible plagiarism provide the following cautionary notes about completeness:

"When a paper is evaluated, Turnitin provides originality reports which tell you that text in the evaluated project or paper is similar to or identical to text Turnitin has in its database. Faculty must still evaluate the quality of the report independently and determine if the parts identified by Turnitin that are similar or identical, are actually plagiarized text. This is because all matches are shown, even those where students cited properly. As a result, faculty must critique the report they receive, use their best judgment and follow University policy before approaching a student about possible plagiarism.

"Similarly, if a paper is reported as "original" by Turnitin, that is not necessarily airtight evidence that the paper is original. Instead, it may mean that the student plagiarized from a work that is not available in the Turnitin database. If a faculty member has a concern, and strongly suspects plagiarism, it is best to ask the library staff to assist him/her to check further and/or check the student's paper references in addition to digital sources. No database is entirely comprehensive and many sources are not digitally available. Therefore, plagiarism can occur and be undetectable by services such as Turnitin."

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Are student papers kept confidential?

Yes. Faculty are not permitted to release student assignments either to other UMUC faculty or to faculty from other institutions. If a faculty member receives a request for permission to release a student's assignment, faculty shall deny the request. The UMUC license with Turnitin specifies a privacy pledge in accordance with FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The U.S. Department of Education's FERPA Regulations give the requirements on the confidentiality of student records and information. If faculty are concerned about student privacy, it is a good idea for them to use aliases for actual student names when submitting assignments for review by Turnitin. UMUC recommends that faculty use aliases to ensure that student privacy is protected.

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What about student copyright?

The UMUC license with Turnitin also specifies that students retain copyright to their submitted assignments and that the assignments will be stored only temporarily and "solely for the purpose of using such papers as source material to prevent plagiarism of such papers."

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Can students revise work that they submit to Turnitin?

This is up to the instructor. In some classes, students may revise their submissions to Turnitin to try to lower the score on the Originality Report.  In other classes, this may not be an option for students. Student should check their assignment requirement to know if their first submission is going to be final or not.

Depending on how the instructor sets up assignments, three things may occur.

  1. Some instructors will set up assignments so that the first submission is going to be final. No revisions will be allowed.
  2. Some instructors will set up assignments so that students can submit their work but then overwrite it with edits and corrections until the due date. In this scenario, however, note that it will take 24 hours for Turnitin to process each overwrite. Plan your time accordingly.
  3. Finally, some instructors will set up assignments so that students can review their work, edit it, and resubmit revised drafts within minutes. The way this works is that instructors set up a baseline assignment called a Paper Assignment. Students submit the first draft of their work to this Paper Assignment. The instructor also sets up one or more Revision Assignments, which is where students submit one or more revised drafts of the work submitted earlier to the Paper Assignment.

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What about group projects in Turnitin?

If you are part of a group working on a project that must be submitted to Turnitin, appoint a team captain to submit the project on behalf of all the team members. If each team member submits the project, then of course Turnitin will detect that you are matching one another.

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How long does a Turnitin check take?

Initial Submissions/First Drafts

Originality Reports should usually be ready within 15 minutes.  However it may take up to 24 hours during peak times such as the middle or the end of semesters when many papers are being submitted to Turnitin.

Revised Drafts

If students are allowed to view their Originality Reports, revise their work, and resubmit to Turnitin, see Can students revise work that they submit to Turnitin?

Depending on how the instructor sets up assignments, students may have to wait 24 hours before overwriting their work with edits, OR they may be able to submit edits of a Paper Assignment to one or more Revision Assignments within minutes. Plan accordingly when working on a deadline.

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Where do I go for technical help?

Contact Turnitin Help Desk: 

Turnitin Help Desk Hours

  • Mon - Fri: 6am - 11pm (PST)
  • Sat - Sun: 2pm - 11pm (PST)

Or you can contact  the library at Ask a Librarian if you need additional assistance.

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