Turnitin Information

What Turnitin can do:

  • Consolidate electronic submission of assignments
    • No more hauling stacks of papers or worrying about misplacing them
    • Available anywhere you have internet access
  • Read the following file types:
    • Microsoft Word (DOC and DOCX)
    • Corel WordPerfect
    • HTML
    • Adobe PostScript
    • Plain text (TXT)
    • Rich Text Format (RTF)
    • Portable Document Format (PDF)
  • Use the Originality Checker to compare submitted assignments to the massive repository hosted by Turnitin (including other student papers, journals, periodicals, publications and web pages)
    • View which sections of a paper are coming up as similar to sources in the repository and database and see lists of the similar sources as well as the percentage similar
    • Choose to include or exclude quotations and bibliographies from this comparison
    • Set your threshold for ignoring similarity either by number of words in a row or percentage of the paper
    • Option to allow students to view the Originality Report to see how their paper compares, how much of their paper is actually similar (or how much is quoted)
  • Use Grademark to grade online
    • Can allow you and a TA access to the papers and grading.
    • Use existing comments within Grademark to note essay problems.
    • Store commonly used comments which can then be applied to submitted papers across courses.
  • Create and store grading rubrics that can be applied to multiple assignments and courses
  • Option to allow students to resubmit papers up to a scheduled due date
  • Track submission dates, including the option to allow late submissions 
  • Allow tracking of grades, including for assignments or exams not done through Turnitin
  • Set up Peer Mark, giving options for students to grade and respond to one another’s papers
  • Assign a TA to a specific section of a course for the purposes of managing submitted assignments
  • Save preferences for assignments to set your personal defaults
  • Automatically post graded papers, eliminating the need to spend class time returning assignments
  • Email all students


What Turnitin cannot do:

  • Guarantee identification of plagiarism as a higher score of similarity may be caused by multiple students writing on a topic, common phrases, etc
  • Identify improperly cited material.
  • Exclude properly cited material that is done without double quotations
  • Auto-mark grammar errors (ETS E-Rater is not available in Canada)
  • Automatically populate students into courses or remove students who have dropped the course (this is a manual process)
  • Allow more than one professor to be assigned to a course or more than one TA to a section.
  • Read OpenOffice files (ODT) or any spreadsheets
  • Auto-create courses and populate them with assignments (you can use saved preferences, but you still have to create assignments each time)
  • Push grades to UR Courses


What you should know:

  • The default is to send assignment submissions to the repository, allowing Turnitin to save a copy of the paper in their files on their servers for comparison, and later requests to view the paper will be sent to the instructor’s account
    • People have raised concerns about submitting to the repository and people are looking into the issue. Some instructors have been submitting, some have not. 
  • The default is not to exclude material in quotations from the Originality Checker
  • The default is not to exclude bibliographies from the Originality Checker
  • It is not possible to assign two or more instructors to a single course or multiple TAs to a section
  • It is recommended that you put necessary information into your syllabus so students are aware that papers will be submitted this way, etc.
  • Internet Explorer may cause issues
  • There is a learning curve, especially with GradeMark
  • It is easier for students to sign themselves up for the course rather than instructor adding students (just provide the class ID, as assigned by Turnitin, and the class password you created)
    • Put this information somewhere that is readily available to all students such as the syllabus and/or UR Courses
  • Responses to a help request emailed to Turnitin tend to take several days
  • Students will receive a receipt if their assignment is successfully submitted. If they do not, it may be easier to have them email an assignment to the instructor who can then submit it for the student
  • There are students not in favour of the use of Turnitin, viewing it as a tool that assumes guilt and requires proof of innocence. How it is used and how it is discussed will make a big difference in terms of student response.
  • Considering it more as plagiarism prevention than a plagiarism catcher can be useful in terms of your thinking and how it is discussed with students.

Turnitin does collect your personal information when you create an account (read more on their privacy pledge): 

  1. To verify the identity of a registrant in relation to his or her authority to register in connection with a specific academic institution. 
  2. To obtain the most complete contact information for administration of the registrant's account.
  3. To inform the registrant of changes in Turnitin's functionality, Turnitin's auxiliary services, and Turnitin's promotions.


  1.  To identify the individual connected to any uploaded text. 
  2. To provide receipt and confirmation of successful text uploads.

According to Turnitin's privacy pledge

  • The type of information we request is connected to the above-noted purposes. For example, we collect personal contact information such as name, physical address, telephone number, and email address for a registered user in order to facilitate use of the Turnitin service and facilitate customer relations. In addition to the specific uses noted above, Turnitin also uses your personally identifiable information to process your requests and transactions.
  • Turnitin may also use your personally identifiable information to prevent harm or injury, to prevent fraud, to protect our legal interests, to comply with or respond to legal process, and to comply with applicable laws.
  • Upon registering, the account holder (13 years of age and older) will be able to choose whether Turnitin can use their personal information for uses beyond account management and whether they will accept contact for reasons other than that or if the information can be used in a personally identifying way. It will be up to the account holder to make that decision. This can include contact for the purpose of identifying sources in uploaded material (material submitted to Turnitin’s repository). For more information, see their privacy pledge.

 Personal information can be removed at any time (privacy pledge): 

  • You can access, correct, amend, or delete the personal information that you have provided us at any time via this Site by following these steps:
  1. Log in to your account using your user name and password.
  2. Click the "user info" link on the navigation bar to open your user profile and view, correct, amend or delete personal information.