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Several British colleges utilise Turnitin, a web-based plagiarism detection and prevention system. In general, Turnitin is put to three uses:

As a disincentive against copying the work of others.
To give reports which may assist detect cases of plagiarism.

The goal is to provide students with a resource that will help them avoid plagiarising their own work and improve their academic writing skills.

Just how does Turnitin function?

A Turnitin assignment is set up by a professor, either via a university’s online learning environment or directly on Turnitin’s own website (www.turnitinuk.com) (www.turnitinuk.com). Then, before the deadline, they may access the assignment online and submit it. Upon submission, Turnitin will do a few minutes’ worth of analysis to determine whether or not the submitted work has any textual similarities to other sources. The submitted work may be seen by the staff, and grades and comments can be entered and delivered to the student when online marking has been completed.

Turnitin offers two features for each submitted piece of work:

Similarity index highlighting the proportion of the submitted paper that was found to be plagiarised by Turnitin.
A report on the originality of the paper, including each similarity and the works cited by Turnitin. They may be webpages, books, journals and articles, or material that has already been submitted via Turnitin.

Insights you need to have

Importantly, Turnitin does not itself detect instances of plagiarism, but rather generates a report that shows instructors and students where such instances may have happened. No student would be accused of plagiarism without a thorough evaluation of the report by a member of staff to ensure there are legitimate academic grounds for the claim.
Work submitted to Turnitin is often archived in the service’s database, where it may be compared to similar submissions made by students at other UK institutions in the future. Any submissions you make remain your property and are protected by copyright laws. The producers of Turnitin also work closely with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office to guarantee that your work is utilised fairly and lawfully.
Turnitin’s library of information is massive and expanding. When new books, journals, or conference proceedings are released, Turnitin automatically adds them. More back-catalogue and out-of-print books and articles are being added to the collection as well. Even in cases when material has been plagiarised, Turnitin may fail to detect all instances of similarity since it does not have access to every word ever written.
Although while a low originality score might sometimes suggest original work and a high originality index can sometimes indicate suspected plagiarism, these conclusions should not be drawn with absolute certainty. It is quite probable – and possibly even desired – that some matches will occur, since mastering the ‘language of the field’ is an integral component of the university academic process in many areas. The depth to which this occurs is determined on the complexity of the topic, the number of quotes used, and the writer’s preferred academic tone.
Do not try to get some arbitrary originality index that you hope will be low enough to pass undetected. Even if just a little quantity of material is copied, accusations of plagiarism might be made. Instead, strive for scholarly-level writing in which you correctly cite all of your sources.
Turnitin is only one of several programmes that may help you avoid plagiarising accidentally. Don’t forget that your work will also be reviewed by topic specialists with years of expertise in grading student work. They are able to discover instances of plagiarism even when computerised methods such as Turnitin do not.

What students say

Genomics Major Wilson Wong

I fully endorse the use of Turnitin. It creates a fair playing field for all students to earn their excellent scores without believing that other students have achieved them via plagiarising their work.”
Wilson Wong \sGenetics student \sQueen Mary, University of London

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