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These Frequently Asked Questions are here to support students with their use of Turnitin plagiarism detection software at UCL. Unless stated otherwise these FAQs relate to the use of Turnitin via UCL Moodle. Staff should refer to the Staff Turnitin FAQs page.

Turnitin is one of the tools that UCL uses to help students learn about and avoid plagiarism and to help detect it when it does occur is Turnitin.

How do I access Turnitin?

Submission links/ inboxes will normally be placed on your  Moodle course; if you do not know where submission links are, please contact your course administrator or tutor.

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Pop-ups - and accepting the terms and conditions.

To use Turnitin on Moodle, you need to allow pop-ups for the Moodle site. Please make sure you allow pop-ups for "moodle.ucl.ac.uk" in your browsers and any pop-up blocking software you are using.

How do I upload an assignment / dissertation to Turnitin?

To upload your assignment in to Turnitin via Moodle:
1. Navigate to your UCL Moodle course.
2. Click on the assignment.
3. Click on the My Submissions tab.
4. Fill in the assignment details, browse for your file, agree to the declaration and click Add Submission.

Note:  If submitting a PDF file, please create the file via Adobe software or Microsoft Word (using File > Save As, then selecting the PDF file type.)

Turnitin cannot process 'image PDFs' therefore you will not receive a similarity score if your file was created by taking a screenshot.

Use Adobe software or Microsoft Word to save a 'text' based PDF file, which Turnitin can search and process for similarity.

Please refer to the following document for further information on using Turnitin via UCL Moodle: Guidance for students submitting work via Turnitin in Moodle.

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How do I view my Turnitin assignment grade and feedback in Moodle?

To view your Turnitin assignment grade and feedback via Moodle:
1. Navigate to your UCL Moodle course.
2. Click on the assignment.
3. Click on the My Submissions tab.
4. Your grade will be displayed in the Grade column (alongside the apple).
5. Click on the apple icon to view any feedback your tutor has left for you within Turnitin. The right-hand column will display any feedback your tutor has left - you can navigate through the different types of feedback using the 3 buttons below this column:

  • The 'General comments' button is selected by default and will display any comments the tutor has made about your submission overall.
  •  Clicking on the second 'QuickMarks' button will show you any in-text comments the tutor has left. Comments within the document (in-text comments) will be also displayed when you place your mouse over the speech bubble icon alongside the highlighted text.
  •  The third 'Rubric' button will show you how your assignment was graded against each criteria (if used).

6. To return to Moodle, close down the assignment window.

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What percentage similarity score is sufficient to indicate plagiarism?

The similarity score indicates text matches with other documents, including for example quotations that are used. We advise students that there is no score they should aim for as a target. The important thing is to ensure that ideas and quotations used are properly referenced in an appropriate academic style, not to aim for a particular similarity score.

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A piece of work has a similarity score of 0%. Does this mean it is not plagiarised?

No, a similarity score of 0% does not guarantee the work is not plagiarised. Turnitin has a large database of web sites, books, journal papers and other sources, but does not (and cannot) include everything ever written.

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If I resubmit an assignment, won’t it show up as a 100% match?

No, work submitted within a single assignment by a particular student will never match another submissions within the same assignment made by the same student. An assignment will only match work by the same student across multiple assignments (unless your tutor has set it as a draft assignment that doesn't submit your work to Turnitin).

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Why has my similarity score increased after the due date?

Instructors have the option to allow students the ability to resubmit papers to an assignment and get updated similarity Reports for the newly submitted drafts (e.g. the assignment must be set to “Generate similarity Reports for student submissions: immediately (can overwrite report until due-date).”
The report that is immediately generated and provided to the student (i.e. *before* the due date of the assignment) does NOT include matches to other student papers in the SAME assignment. Before the assignment due date passes, the report only includes matches to existing student papers on the Turnitin database, journals and publications, and internet sources. The similarity Report is completely and automatically re-generated for ALL papers in the assignment after the due date has passed, thus comparing papers between students in the *same* class/assignment. This may result in the Similarity Index (percentage), displayed to the student at the time of submission, to be different to that which is displayed after the due date has passed. 

If late submissions have been allowed to be made after the due date of the assignment, the late-submitted paper will be added to the database immediately. The report generated for that late submission *will* search every other paper already submitted to the assignment (i.e. the papers submitted on-time). The assignment will *NOT* regenerate reports for the already-submitted papers just because a student submits late. So, the reports for the "submitted-on-time" papers will not consider or include the late-submission in their assessments.
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What file formats will Turnitin accept?

Turnitin will accept most common word-processing formats, including: 

  • Microsoft Word® (.doc/.docx) *
  • text-based PDF (.pdf)
  • Microsoft Powerpoint
  • OpenOffice Text (.odt)**
  • WordPerfect (.wpd)
  • PostScript  (.ps)
  • HTML
  • RTF (.rtf)
  • Excel documents (.xls. .xlsx)***
  • formats for computer programming languages
  • plain text (.txt)

Turnitin cannot check the following file types for similarity, and depending on the settings of your Turnitin Assignment, you will either be prevented from submitting such file types or your similarity Report will not generate:

  • Apple files, including Microsoft Word for Mac.  Documents created on Microsoft Word for Mac will need to be saved as a text-based PDF or RTF before submission, or opened with Microsoft Word for PC and re-saved.
  • Image-based PDFs (e.g. scanned files, or files which do not contain highlight able text. If you need to include scans as part of your submission, we recommend you include the scans as images within a word document, and ensure there is a minimum of 20 words, and the file size is less than 40mb).
  • Google Docs created documents - We recommend that such documents are saved in a different format.

*We would advise that the students access the check for issue area within Microsoft Word (go to File -> Info -> Check for issues -> Inspect document), inspect the document and look for any custom XLM errors and then click on the 'remove' button to see if this removes the areas and try submitting the work again.  This may allow the report to be generated.

** Except where a .odt file is created in Google Docs

***The file will display to the marker as if the Excel file was saved as a PDF. 

Where to find more information

If you need more information, please see Turnitin's official advice on accepted file types and sizes.

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Will Turnitin accept documents containing equations?

Equations created in other applications and then converted to PDF are likely to cause problems when the document is displayed in Turnitin®. As long as you use Word (with Microsoft Equation) to create your document, Turnitin® should have no trouble displaying your assignment. Word is available to all students free of charge, see Software for students

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What is the maximum file size that can be submitted to Turnitin?

The maximum file size is 100MB and 800 pages. (See: Turnitin's compatible File types and size)

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Will Turnitin accept documents containing images?

Turnitin only accepts documents containing images if those documents also contain some text.

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How can I minimise the file size of my submission?

It may be necessary to compress a document so it is small enough to be uploaded to Turnitin. This is especially true for long documents (such as dissertations) and documents that contain many images.

If you are submitting a Microsoft Word document then you may need to compress the images within this document in order for it to meet the requirements of Turnitin. Advice on how to reduce file size do this can be found on the Microsoft Office website.

Additionally, saving Word documents to PDF format will often compress the document to a small size, but if your file is still above the maximum upload limit you can follow these instructions to compress the PDF further.
To compress or minimise the file size of large PDF documents:

On a PC:

If you don't already have software to compress PDF documents you can install the following free software and then follow the steps below.
1. Download and install PDFCreator from pdfforge
2. Launch the PDFCreator.
3. Drag your document on to the PDFCreator window OR click Document > Add and locate and open the file.
4. Click OK when the message appears saying: "It is necessary to temporarily set PDFCreator as default printer".
5. Click save.
6. Change the filename if you want to retain the original uncompressed version.
7. Once the file has finished compressing the default printer will be changed back and the compressed PDF file will open.

On a Mac:
1. Open the PDF in the Preview application.
2. File > Save As... or if this isn't an option File > Export...
3. In the Quartz filter drop-down menu choose 'Reduce File Size'.
4. If you want to keep the original uncompressed version, change the file name.
5. Click Save.

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Why can't I see my Turnitin assignment?

In some cases your tutor will set up the assignment submission box so you are unable to view your similarity Report. Please check with your tutor if this is the case.
If your tutor has not enabled you to view your similarity Report then UCL provides a centrally available assignment draft checking service on it's Plagiarism and academic writing Moodle course that you can use instead.
If your tutor has enabled students to viw their similarity Reports then please check you are using Internet Explorer 8 or later or Firefox web browsers. The new Turnitin 2 document viewer is not compatible with older versions of Internet Explorer.

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Why won't the new title of my submission appear when I rename it?

Sometimes if you have named your assignment submission title incorrectly (forgetting your candidate number, or including your name for an anonymous assignment) you will need to rename it when you next upload a version of your submission to Turnitin. This must be done before the due date, otherwise you will need to ask your tutor or course administrator to do this on your behalf.
Turnitin will only display the new assignment title when the next report is generated. As Turnitin will only generate a new report every 24 hours, it may take up to 24 hours for the new assignment title to display.

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How do I resubmit my assignment?

In the past, students had to delete old submissions before resubmitting. Now you just upload over the top of your old submission instead. When you do this the submitted date should update to show the date and time of the latest submission. You will only receive a new similarity Report every 24 hours, so if you submit multiple times within a 24 hour period you will not see the new report immediately.

Once the due date has passed, you will not be able to resubmit your work. Only those students who have submitted nothing will be able to submit (if your tutor has enabled late submissions). To resubmit after the due date, your tutor will need to delete your existing submission first, so you can then upload the new file.

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I have uploaded my work again (re-submitted), but no similarity Report has been generated, why?

Re-submissions made after your 3rd submission to the same Turnitin assignment, will require 24 hours to generate a similarity Report.

You can now view your initial similarity Report from your first submission within 15 minutes, then revise and resubmit your work up to three times to the same Turnitin assignment, without having to wait 24 hours for an updated report. After three resubmissions have been made, the 24-hour report generation wait time will be restored.

For example, if you re-submitted your assignment for a fourth time say, at 08:00 on Tuesday it will take until at least 08:00 on Wednesday for the new similarity Report to be generated. In this example if you initially re-submitted at 08:00 on Tuesday, but then made another re-submission to the same submission inbox at 09:00 on the same day it would now take until at least 09:00 on Wednesday for a new similarity Report to be generated.

While you are waiting for Turnitin to generate your similarity Report, you may see the word 'Pending' displayed. When it is ready you will see a percentage value and a coloured rectangle.

If the word 'Pending' is still displayed after 24 hours contact your Tutor or Teaching Administrator or the ISD Service Desk - Email: servicedesk@ucl.ac.uk or Phone: 020 7679 5000 (internal 25000) for assistance.

Instantaneous similarity results should give you the formative support you need to master paraphrasing and citation conventions efficiently.

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When I click to accept the agreement prior to submitting my work, nothing happens?

In the new version of Turnitin (launched September 2014), you now need to accept an agreement prior to submitting your work.  In order to do this, you need to have pop-ups enabled on your browser.  For information on how to enable pop-ups on different web browsers, please click here.

I have uploaded my work, but I get the error ''the similarity service is not available for this paper: a problem occurred when processing the application URL"

In order to resolve this, you will need to file type issues (see  What file formats will Turnitin accept?  above)  and resubmit your work.  Do note that only one Similarity Report is generated every 24 hours, so you will need to allow enough time before checking again.

When I click on the pencil icon to view my graded submission, I get a notice 'Loading error: This paper is not available. M14: 11'

There is currently a bug which will not allow you to access your work this way.  Please click on the title of your submission, this will load your work correctly.

I have received an digital receipt for a submission that I did not make

Occasionally, you may receive an email digital receipt for an assignment that you did not make.  This can happen when a marker of a Turnitin assignment clicks on the grading pencil next to your name accidentally.  You can disregard this message, but if you would like reassurance, please contact your course administrator. 

I am a Mac Word user and my track changes are showing up on my similarity Report

Even if you save your document as a 'Final' copy, you may find that the track changes are shown in the similarity Report.  You will need to either save your 'Final' document as a PDF or accept all changes if you do not want this to happen.

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