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This FAQ is to support staff with their use of Turnitin plagiarism detection software at UCL. Unless stated otherwise these FAQs relate to the use of Turnitin via UCL Moodle. Please refer your students to the Student Turnitin FAQs page.

Overview

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a third party tool, hosted externally and integrated with Moodle. It has a number of possible uses in different combinations here at UCL.

  • to support students in developing their academic writing, including how to use and reference sources;
  • to help detect poor academic writing practice, including plagiarism, when it does occur;
  • as one alternative via Moodle to manage all stages of the assessment process, including submission, marking and returning work;
  • to provide legible and contextualised feedback which students can refer to in future work. These can be 'bubble comments', and/or from a set of frequently-made comments, and/or an optional recorded spoken message.
  • for record keeping (both for students and staff).

Read more...

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What are the benefits?

Turnitin is most helpful when it is used to streamline assessment procedures, give and receive feedback and support good academic writing. The full benefits of all forms of e-assessment becomes apparent when the process is entirely digitised, without requiring paper copies.

Benefits which Turnitin shares with other forms of e-assessment are:

  • provision of feedback which is typed and therefore legible (this overcomes a major obstacle preventing students taking up feedback);
  • provision of a record of feedback available to students online in a timely way, encouraging them to consult it for future work;
  • the goodwill of students who no longer have to travel and queue to submit work;
  • many support staff hours saved from receiving, sorting, allocating, and posting scripts to assessors and examiners;
  • assessors no longer have to wait for the post - this either gives them a longer period in which to mark or it reduces the marking lead time;
  • automation of record keeping, reducing the burden on office staff;
  • ability to download and mark offline;
  • easier access to scripts in the event of a query;
  • a saving of space allocated to storing paper copies.

Benefits specific to Turnitin:

  • anonymous submission (as of summer 2013, Moodle too will offer anonymity in its Assignment tools)
  • contextualised feedback in the form of 'bubble comments', which are attached to the part of the work they pertain to;
  • marking directly onto the script without needing to save or upload files;
  • an integrated summary audio comment tool which is very easy to use;
  • the ability for staff to see whether students have looked at their feedback;
  • an Originality Report highlighting parts of a student's work which match other sources, based on a wide-ranging (though not exhaustive) search of digitised publications and work submitted by students.
  • students have the opportunity to submit draft work and obtain their own confidential Originality Report which helps them to understand quoting, paraphrasing, and referencing. It can flag inaccurate quoting, over-quoting, patch writing, and other poor practice.

How do I access Turnitin?

Via Moodle. Staff set up Turnitin Assignments in the appropriate Moodle course area, and give students the necessary guidance about how to use them.

For students a confidential self-check is available in the Moodle area titled 'Plagiarism and Academic Writing'.

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How can I set up a Turnitin Assignment?

How can I set up a Turnitin Assignment, step-by-step?

See our step-by-step guidance to setting up Turnitin Assignments in your Moodle area.

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How do I set up Turnitin for drafts, separate from the final submission?

This is straightforward - but the important thing is to avoid students' work being checked against itself - this would necessarily yield a very high or 100% match.

So, set up a separate Turnitin Assignment as outlined in the step-by-step instructions above and make sure that in its settings you set Store Student Papers to No Repository.

This means that student submissions

  • will be checked against papers stored in Turnitin and other material on the Internet;
  • but won't themselves be stored in Turnitin. 

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Plagiarism

What percentage of the originality score is sufficient to indicate plagiarism?

The Similarity Score, expressed as a percentage match, simply indicates the proportion of text in a submission which matches text elsewhere. Detecting similarity is what Turnitin does, but similarity isn't the same thing as plagiarism - similarity can be entirely legitimate. It can reside in quotations, or in the language of a discipline. Work may have a high score because its author lacks confidence or knowledge and has over-quoted as a consequence. Work may have a low score but have used somebody else's idea or phrase without attribution - this becomes an even more significant concern if that idea is central to the work. For these reasons it's impossible to point to a definitive threshold.

That said, a very high score mean that the student's own words and original ideas are proportionally less. The principle of essay writing is that students need to evidence or illustrate their points with well-chosen quotations, but the more of their own ideas, expressed in their own words, they get into their work, the more chance they have to earn credit. 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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How does Turnitin handle quotes?

You can set up a Turnitin assignment to exclude quotes, or you can filter these out when viewing the submission. However it is important to note that Turnitin will consider quoted material to be anything within double quotation marks only ("), anything within single quotation marks (') will not be considered a quotation. This can cause problems as the Harvard system of referencing, which is commonly used at UCL, requires double quotations for direct speech and single quotations for direct text. This means that a human eye will still be required to check references are accurately given at the end of quoted text, at which point they can then be disregarded. Turnitin is a text matching system based on a computerised algorithm and not a judgement engine, so human interpretations of results are always required regardless of quotes materials. 

A piece of work has a similarity score of 0%. No plagiarism?

No, a Similarity Score of 0% does not guarantee originality. Turnitin uses a large database of web sites, books, journal articles and other sources, but does not (and cannot) include everything ever written. Although Turnitin can help with highlighting areas of poor academic practice, it can't substitute for academic knowledge and judgement.

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Can I put one student's work through Turnitin, without putting all students in the class work through as well?

No, all students in the class must use the same submission method to ensure fair treatment.

All papers should be treated equally throughout the submission process.

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Can I submit work on a student’s behalf without them knowing?

No, students must be informed of the method of submission. If you wish to run the papers through Turnitin after receiving them from a different submission method then students must be informed. Usually, they are informed of the submission method in the handbook for their module / programme.

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How can I tell what is in the Turnitin database?

Details of what Turnitin checks against can be found here - http://submit.ac.uk/en_gb/features/originalitycheck/content

If you would like to check if a particular book or journal is in the Turnitin database then you can check this on the iThenticate website. 

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Technical

If students 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 you have set it up as a draft assignment to not submit work to Turnitin).

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What file formats will Turnitin accept?

Most common word-processing formats are accepted. Turnitin will accept documents in Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, PostScript, PDF, HTML, RTF, and plain text. Turnitin will not accept Microsoft Powerpoint and Excel documents, image based PDF and formats for computer programming languages.Turnitin will not accept compressed or zipped files.

Note: equations created in Word using Microsoft Equation are compatible with Turnitin, but equations created in other applications and then converted to PDF are likely to cause problems when the document is displayed in Turnitin. If students need to submit documents containing equations to Turnitin please pass on the advice below: Will Turnitin accept documents containing equations?

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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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Will Turnitin accept documents containing equations?

As long as students use Word (with Microsoft Equation) to create their documents, Turnitin should have no trouble displaying their assignments. Word is available to all UCL students free of charge via WTS:  http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/students/windows/wts/access

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

* *The maximum file size is approximately 20MB, though tutors may choose to reduce this for an individual assignment.

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How can students minimise the file size of their submissions?

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. 

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: http://download.pdfforge.org/download/pdfcreator/PDFCreator-stable
  2. Launch the PDFCreator.
  3. Drag your document on to the PDFCreator window OR click Document Add and locate and open the file (change "postScript files (.ps)* to All files (.) in the bottom, right to see your documents).
  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...
  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 mark or add comments to the assignments?

If you can't add comments to or grade assignments, this is usually caused by the Post date having been reached. The Post Date is the date students receive their feedback and marks and anonymous assignments become un-anonymised.

To mark or add comments you need to change the Post Date to a date in the future:

  1. Click on the assignment name in Moodle
  2. In the Summary tab click the pen icon on the right.
  3. Change the Post date to a date in the future.
  4. Click the tick icon to save the change.

You should now be able to mark and comment on assignments.

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How do I bulk download Turnitin assignments?

It is now possible to bulk download Turnitin assignments from within Moodle. You can bulk download the original files, PDF versions of the original files and grades (along with the matching scores). If you need to bulk download the papers along with the feedback you have provided using Grademark you will need to log into submit.ac.uk directly.

  1. Click on the assignment name in Moodle.
  2. In the Summary tab you will see 3 file icons in the Export column:
    • Word icon - downloads the original file (usually either Word or PDF formats).
    • PDF icon - downloads a PDF version of the original file.
    • Excel icon - downloads a spreadsheet containing each student's assignment grades and the overlap scores (or similarity match score).
  3. When the Download File page has loaded, click on the link to download the assignments in zipped file format.
  4. To unzip, locate the* turnitinuk_zip_download* file on your computer and follow the instructions below for the operating system you are using:

Windows XP

  1. Right-click on the file and choose Extract All..., then click NextNextFinish.
  2. A new folder with the same name will appear containing all the assignment files.

Windows 7

  1. Right-click on the file and choose Extract All... and click Extract.
  2. A new folder with the same name will appear containing all the assignment files.

Apple Mac

  1. Double click on the file.
  2. A new folder with the same name will appear containing all the assignment files.

Downloading Grademarked papers (from submit.ac.uk)

It is not yet possible to bulk download Turnitin assignments with Grademark feedback from within Moodle. You need to log in to Turnitin directly. Follow these steps to bulk download grademarked assignments directly from Turnitin:

  1. In Moodle make sure you are the class owner for the assignment (check the turnitin assignment's summary tab).
  2. If you are NOT the class owner for that assignment, click the pen (edit) icon alongside the current class owner and change it to your name. Turnitin will update so that you will now have access to the assignment via submit.ac.uk
  3. Visit www.submit.ac.uk in your web browser.
  4. Log in using your UCL email address and Turnitin password. If you have forgotten (or never received) your password you can use the *Forgotten Password? *link to retrieve it.
  5. Once you have logged in, click on the Instructor tab in the top, left corner of the page. All your Moodle courses that contain Turnitin assignments will be listed. 
  6. Click on the relevant course (you may need to click on the [All classes] tab to see it).
  7. Click on the name of the Turnitin assignment for which you want to bulk download submissions.
  8. Click View to see each student's submission.
  9. Click on the first checkbox alongside author to select all the assignments.
  10. Click Download > Original File* or* Grademark paper *(the latter will contain any feedback you returned to the student via Grademark).

* *If you don't get the option to download the original file you need to ensure the *Post date is set to be in the past. You can change this in Moodle using these instructions.

E-Learning Environments does not support the use of Turnitin when used directly from submit.ac.uk.

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How do I backup Turnitin assignments?

Because Turnitin assignments are stored in an external system it is recommended that assignments are bulk downloaded at the end of term and securely archived in line with current practice for electronic assignment storage within your department.  For undergraduate courses, all submissions made in the course of the academic year will be captured in the Moodle archive.  This takes place mid-June.  As postgraduate courses have different timetables, not all submissions are captured in archiving process, so we recommend you manually archive your Moodle course to retain submissions, please click here for more information about manual archiving.

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How do I reset my Turnitin assignments ready for the next academic year?

  1. Navigate to your Moodle course.
  2. In the Administration block click on Reset.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Select default button.
  4. The default option Copy Turnitin Assignments (Create Duplicates, New Turnintin Class) is the only option ELE recommended for course resets.

The three Turnitin assignment reset options are described here:
Copy Turnitin Assignments (Create Duplicates, New Turnintin Class)
This will create a new Turnitin class and a new assignment within the class for the assignment link in Moodle. The old class and assignment will remain associated with the Moodle editors' Turnitin accounts, so can still be referred to in future via Turnitin and the Moodle archive. This is the most appropriate option for a new cohort of students (e.g. a new class).

Replace Turnitin Assignments (Replace Assignment Parts, Reuse Turnitin Class)
This will add a new assignment in the same Turnitin® class and removes the pre reset assignment from view in the class. This option does not create a new class, so the students from the previous year would have access to this new assignment.

Leave Turnitin Assignments Untouched
This will leave the assignment link in its current state and not remove any associated users. This would mean that when students are removed from the Moodle course during a reset their submissions in the Turnitin® assignment will still be displayed as non enrolled users, hence not really resetting the course properly. You will need express permissions from students to retain their work in this manner. 

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How do I change the due date of a Turnitin assignment?

  1. Go to the Turnitin assignment in Moodle.
  2. Click on the Summary tab.
  3. Click the edit (pencil) icon. 
  4. Select a date and time for each setting:
    • Start date: when the students can start submitting 
    • Due date: when the students should submit by
    • Post date:  when the students will receive their marks and the names of students are revealed for anonymised assignments (must be after the Due date)
  5. Click the tick icon to save the dates.

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How do I request to see the source of a matching assignment in Turnitin?

  1. Go to the Turnitin assignment in Moodle.
  2. Click on the Submission Inbox tab.
  3. Click on the similarity score (shown as a % with a coloured bar alongside it)
  4. Click on the highlighted text in the document that shows a match to another source.
  5. Click on the name of institution the matching assignment was submitted to (e.g. Submitted to University College London)
  6. A note will appear explaining that you need to request this document from the author's instructor. 
  7. Click [send a request to view this paper] to submit the request.
  8. An email will be sent to all instructors connected to that assignment in Turnitin. For an assignment submitted to UCL Moodle that means all course administrators and tutors will receive the request via email.
  9. If the request is accepted you will receive the paper to your UCL email account. The document will be sent in plain text within the body of the email.

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Can I double blind mark work submitted to Turnitin using GradeMark?

There is no way to double blind mark using GradeMark in Turnitin. One way to double mark using GradeMark is to put initials such as M1 and M2 next to comments made by each marker. However, this is not blind as the markers will be able to see the previous markers comments. Students will be able to see these comments when their marks are released, unless they are deleted first.

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Why does the Turnitin submission box take so long to load?

The submission inbox can take time to load as it has to synchronise data with the Turnitin servers and check all of the originality reports. This is a particular problem when there’s a high number of students enrolled on a Moodle course. There are two ways to reduce the loading time, either preventing the submission inbox from auto refreshing or setting up multiple inboxes.

To prevent the submission inbox from automatically refreshing each time you enter it, go into the Turnitin assignment and then click the ‘Options’ tab (located next to the Submission Inbox tab). Located the ‘Auto refresh Grade/ Score’ setting, and from the drop down menu (which should be set to ‘Yes, automatically refresh originality scores and grades’ by default) select ‘No, I will refresh originality score and grades manually’. Once you have done this you should click ‘Save Changes’.

NB This will change the setting for the submission inbox for everyone using it. Make sure that other tutors/ administrators know to click ‘Refresh Table’ at the top of the submission table to refresh the grades/ originality reports.
If you set up multiple inboxes then ensure there are no more than 100 students submitting to one submission inbox. You will also need to set up a new Turnitin assignment for each inbox, and clicking the duplicate button will simply produce multiple links to the same inbox.

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Can I use Turnitin with Windows 8?

Windows 8 is currently unsupported by Turnitin. Advice to users is to use Internet Explorer in conjunction with Windows 8 for best performance.
Firefox and Chrome do not allow the marker to select text to make comments.

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Troubleshooting

Why do I get an error when I bulk download Turnitin assignments in Moodle?

If you get the following error when you try to bulk download assignments from Moodle, you are probably not specified as a Turnitin tutor for that Moodle course.
Error: 241
The user does not have the specified role in the class.

To add yourself as a Turnitin tutor for assignments on a particular Moodle course:

  1. Go to the Turnitin assignment.
  2. On the Options tab, click on the edit icon alongside Turnitin Tutors.
  3. Under Turnitin Tutors, select your name from the list and click [Add Turnitin Tutor].

You should now be able to bulk download Turnitin assignments.

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Why do I get an "unable to download page" error when I try to download a Turnitin assignment from Moodle using Internet Explorer 8?

This is a known issue with Internet Explorer 8 with no available workaround. Please use Firefox instead or upgrade to Internet Explorer 9.

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I get a notice about duplicate copies of a Turnitin assignment with a link to another Turnitin assignment. How do I fix this?

If you restore a backup containing Turnitin assignments or import them from a Moodle course you will see the following warning message:

Duplicate copies of the same Turnitin assignments were found, duplicates occur when one or more Moodle Direct assignment is connected to the same one Turnitin assignment via the Turnitin API. This is known to cause issues, most notably submissions made to one of the duplicates will show up in the submission inbox of the others. To fix this you should either delete the duplicate assignments or reset the course where the duplicate assignments are.
The following duplicates were found:
...

Notice

To fix this you need to either:

  1. Remove one of these assignments. You can recreate a new Turnitin assignment manually to replace it if required. OR
  2. Reset your course (with only the default Turnitin reset option selected!) so that Turnitin copies all the assignments on the course and creates new ones. NOTE: *DO NOT do this if you have any current assignments with submissions* anywhere in the course. After you reset, the links to all assignments in the course will be lost and new assignments will be created in their place.

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Why do grades I enter in GradeMark not appear in the Submission inbox?

  1. Go to your Turnitin assignment in Moodle.
  2. Click on the Options tab.
    Check that the Use GradeMark? option is set to* Yes, use GradeMark to grade submissions*.
  3. Click Save Changes.
  4. Go back to the Submission Inbox.

You will notice that the yellow pencil icon will have changed to a blue pencil indicating that GradeMark is now being used.

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Why can't I (or some of my students) see the Turnitin assignments?

The new Turnitin 2 document viewer is not compatible with older versions of Internet Explorer. Use a more recent version of IE8+ or use Firefox instead.

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Why won't a student's renamed assignment submission display the new title?

Sometimes students may not name their submission title correctly (forgetting their candidate number, or including their name for anonymous assignments).

When they next upload their assignment they can rename it (providing this is done before the due date).

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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Helping Students

If the assignment is set to Anonymous, how can I contact students who haven't submitted?

Good point - you may need to know this so, for example, you can contact the students and find out if they are having difficulties. Fortunately, finding out who has or hasn't submitted is straightforward - though not terribly obvious - and won't compromise anonymity (except by a process of elimination if the group is small, and that's a trade-off to decide about within your department).

  1. Log in and navigate to the Moodle area with the Turnitin assignment you need to monitor.
  2. From the Navigation menu select Reports, and from the Reports sub-menu select Course Participation; the Participation Report page then loads allowing you to filter your search as follows.
    1. From the Activity Module menu, select the Turnitin assignment you need to monitor.
    2. Choose a period of time to 'Look Back' over.
    3. 'Show Only' student reports.
    4. And finally, for 'Show Actions' select Post - which will show only students who have uploaded.
  3. When you're ready, click the Go button; the results then display.
  4. By clicking each column heading, you can sort the results for Post by Yes or No.
  5. Once you have identified the students who haven't submitted, the Participation Report gives you the opportunity to select their respective checkbox and send them a message - scroll to the bottom of the Report page for these options.

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How do I submit an assignment on behalf of a student?

  1. Go to your Turnitin assignment in Moodle.
  2. Click on the Submit Paper tab.
  3. Choose the student from the drop down list, fill in the assignment title, browse for the student's file and click* Add Submission*.
  4. The student will now see this submission in Moodle as though they had uploaded it themselves.

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How do students upload an assignment / dissertation to Turnitin?

UCL recommend using Turnitin via Moodle, rather than directly, as it is the easiest way to enable multiple staff to access an assignment.
Note: UCL support staff are unable to support direct access to Turnitin. 

To upload an assignment in to Turnitin via Moodle students need to follow these steps:

  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.

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

Further detailed information is available here: TiiUK_Moodle_Integration_Student_Manual.pdf

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How do students view their Turnitin assignment grade and feedback in Moodle?

To view Turnitin assignment grades and feedback via Moodle students need to follow these steps:

  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 pencil).
  5. Click on the pencil 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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How do students resubmit their assignments?

Ensure you setup the assignment to accept multiple submissions and generate multiple reports by setting Report Generation Speed to Generate reports immediately, reports can be overwritten until due date.

In the past, students had to delete old submissions before resubmitting. With the new version of the Turnitin plugin they now just upload over the top of their old submission instead.

NOTE: Once the due date has passed, students will not be able to resubmit. Only those students who have submitted nothing will be able to submit, assuming you have enabled late submissions in the settings. To allow a student to resubmit after the due date, you will need to delete their existing submission first using the delete (rubbish bin) icon and they can then upload another file (or you can do this on their behalf).

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Do students receive an email notification on the Post Date?

No, there is no automatic notification. If you set the Post Date to the expected Post Date, and stick to that, then students will know (from the Turnitin Assignment's landing page aka Summary) when to check back. Otherwise, tutors can always send a News Forum post saying ‘Your marks are now available to view’.

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