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Referencing & Plagiarism Awareness: 11. How to interpret your Turnitin similarity report

Interpretation

What is the Similarity Report?

A Similarity Report shows textual matches or similarities between your assignment submitted to Turnitin and a range of online sources including Turnitin’s own bank of previously submitted work. Turnitin's online sources include: web pages, essay mills, online journals, articles and publications. The scan is generated once you have submitted your assignment to Turnitin.

What does the Similarity score indicate?

Most original student assignments will contain some text matches. There is no ideal percentage to aim for as percentages are dependent on the subject and requirements of the assignment. This ‘at a glance’ guide should not be used as a measure of plagiarism as even a 1% score could potentially indicate plagiarism.

Filters

This function allows you to filter out certain matches 

  1. Click on the Funnel style Filter icon on the right-hand panel in Feedback Studio
  2. Choose whether to exclude Quotes or Bibliography
  3. Choose whether to exclude matches that are less than either a percentage of the whole text or are less than a specific number of words.
  4. Click “Apply Changes”.

What is the Similarity score?

The Similarity Score is the percentage of text in the assignment submitted to Turnitin that matches or is similar to online sources. A score of 0% indicates that no matches have been found whilst a score of, 100% means that all the text is matching. Note that matching text is likely to include correctly referenced and quoted text as well as text which has not been referenced at all.

Accessing the Similarity Report

The Similarity Report can only be viewed after you have submitted your assignment and if the assignment has been set up by your department to allow you to see the associated Similarity Report.

To view your Similarity Report on an assignment you have submitted (whether it has been marked on not):

  1. Log in to Blackboard and open My Modules.
  2. Go to the module you submitted your assignment to.
  3. Navigate to the Turnitin submission point that you submitted your assignment to.
  4. Click on the Similarity score or click View to open your assignment with the Similarity score:
  5. Your assignment will open in Feedback Studio
  6. To view the Match Overview, click on the red, numerical similarity score from the toolbar
  7. You will now see your Similarity Report.
  8. Text matching will appear in the body of your assignment.
  9. Text that is matched from different sources will be highlighted.

Other Report functions

  •    The button on the right side gives you information such as submission date, filename etc.
  •    The word count and page count can be found at the bottom of the Report.
  •    The slider tool at the bottom of the Report allows you to increase or decrease the text size in the document

Is it a plagiarism detector?

Turnitin does not check for plagiarism in a submitted assignment. The software cannot tell whether a submitted assignment has been plagiarised, it can only state how much text has been matched or is similar to external and other sources.

The Similarity Report is useful for checking that online sources in an assignment have been properly cited and referenced as well as for deterring plagiarism and encouraging good academic practice.

To establish whether unfair means have occurred, the Similarity Report must be interpreted by an appropriate member of staff in your department.

Interpreting the Similarity Report

  1. Locate Match Overview: The right-hand side panel shows matches found from either websites, journals, articles or other student submissions.
  2. Click the chevron to the right of a particular source. This will open up a pop-up text box which shows the matching text and direct links (where available) to that source. Each match has its own corresponding colour.
  3. You can also click directly on one of the matches in the student submission itself to bring up the pop-up text box
  4. Match breakdown: You will now enter the match breakdown. This will show all further sources that contain the same portion of matching text
  5. Click Full source view to view a particular match in the sidebar, this also allows you to scroll through the further source matches using the <> arrows.

Further Help

See Turnitin’s Help pages for more information on viewing and interpreting the similarity report. Turnitin also have a useful interactive demo where you can try the Feedback Studio and find out more.

Turnitin FAQ's: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?search=turnitin 

Aberystwyth University. (2019) Better Marks with Good Referencing. Turnitin: interpreting the similarity report. Available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/library-services/infoskills/good-referencing/#turnitin:-interpreting-the-similarity-report (Accessed: 22 July 2020).