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Turnitin FAQ's

All answers reflect The University of Huddersfields policy. Click on the question you want the answer to this will then open the answer below the question.

Q.1. Why should we use Turnitin?

A. It is University policy that, where possible all written work should be submitted to and marked through Turnitin not only would this enable electronic submission but could also help to ensure originality of students’ work.

Q.2. What is Turnitin?

A. Turnitin is a web-based service that can be accessed through UniLearn it manages the process of student work submission, marking and feedback, Turnitin can also find and highlight matching or unoriginal text in a written assignment by searching through its index in a large database of electronically published works such as websites and journals it also checks against work submitted currently and previously to Turnitin by other students, both within our university and other institutions. The originality report can assist lecturers in identifying work which might have been plagiarised a Turnitin assignment must be set up by a lecturer through UniLearn to provide a space for students to submit their work.

Q.3. What are the benefits for staff in using Turnitin?

A. Some of the benefits to staff are:
  • No paper copies to be collected and organised.
  • Marking can be started as soon as the deadline passes instead of waiting to receive paper assignments.
  • Second marking and internal moderation processes can take place concurrently with marking.
  • No need for posting assignments to external examiners - they can access papers on Unilearn.
  • Easy identification of text within submitted written work that matches other sources, this could help identify instances of plagiarism and may also help tutors identify students who need additional help with their academic writing and referencing.
  • Discourages plagiarism as students are aware that their work will be checked for originality.
  • Provides the facility to do electronic marking through GradeMark and online peer evaluation through PeerMark.
  • Saves time while marking students’ work allowing audio and written feedback.
  • The ‘comments bank’ (QuickMark sets) of commonly used comments [for example: Awk – ‘Awkward: The expression or construction is cumbersome or difficult to read. Consider rewriting’; BadRef – ‘Bad referencing’] can also be customised and shared amongst markers to save time whilst marking.
  • It also provides the flexibility of giving customised comments and feedback [for example: Too many conclude(s) near each other. I'm being so picky because you are so proficient in your writing].
  • Optional rubrics feature provides greater consistency and transparency because all markers are working with the same criteria, students can see how their grade was arrived at which may lead to fewer queries.
  • Once students have submitted electronically their work is stored with the University and hence it is not required to maintain a separate copy of student work in the module boxes in Wisdom.
  • There is no issue if a student project is eventually published as a journal article, the version of Turnitin that publishers use is a separate system that does not check against the student database.
  • An anonymous marking facility is available but staff should seek advice from their School’s Learning Technology Advisor to understand the implications of using this.

Q.4. What are the benefits to student in using Turnitin?

A. Some of the benefits to students are:
  • Paperless submission allows students to submit within the deadline regardless of location.
  • All submissions receive an email confirmation so students are secure in the knowledge that there is a record of their assignment being handed in on time.
  • Students can engage with their feedback in private rather than with their peers around them.
  • If given the ability to see their own originality report, it may help them identify their need for improving their academic writing skills. However students may need some training to interpret this.

Q.5. What should staff be aware of?

A. Some of the facts staff need to be aware while using Turnitin are as follows:
  • Turnitin is NOT plagiarism detection software, it is only a tool to assist in the detection of plagiarism and produces an originality report however, it is an individual tutor’s responsibility to interpret this report and ascertain if plagiarism has taken place just because a student has a high percentage of similarity returned it does not necessarily mean that the student has plagiarised similarly, a student may only return a low percentage of similarity yet they may have clear evidence of academic misconduct.
  • Submission via Turnitin may increase student anxiety about assessment, students may be worried about being unjustly accused of plagiarism when that plagiarism was unintentional it is recommended that students should be given the opportunity of a formative experience of Turnitin before it is used summatively.
  • It is commonplace to allow all submissions to be added to the Turnitin database in order that future assignments may be checked against them however, please note that it is possible to configure Turnitin so that the submitted student papers are not included in the Turnitin database.
  • Turnitin can only check against its database for the similarity of text and not images.

Q.6. What file formats does Turnitin accept?

A. Turnitin can take documents in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, WordPerfect, PostScript, PDF, HTML, RTF, OpenOffice (ODT), Hangul (HWP), Google Docs and plain text, though Turnitin accepts PowerPoint files please note that they will be converted to a static PDF the text and images on the slides will be visible and available for feedback in the Document Viewer and Turnitin for iPad App; however any dynamic elements such as slide animations, transitions, presenter notes, and audio/video are not available.

Q.7. What is the maximum file size for submissions to Turnitin?

A. File size should be less than 20 MB and not more than 400 pages images used in submissions to Turnitin should be compressed in order to reduce the file size. This can be done using the image optimisation (compression) feature in Word or Adobe Acrobat. 

Q.8. Does Turnitin take files with page sizes above A4?

A. Turnitin can take PDF files with the page size over A4 size but the display may not be able to present the work to the level of detail that is required for assessment so tutors may need to download the original files to view the work in detail.

Q.9. How does Turnitin handle images?

A. Turnitin can accept images in a submission but it doesn’t recognise them and only identifies the text in the submitted file if text is converted into images in the file then it will not be detected by Turnitin, sometimes if any files that contain only images are submitted Turnitin may throw an error stating that submissions should contain at least 20 words within the file.

Q.10. What is included in the word count?

A. Since Turnitin checks for originality, it counts all the words in the file submitted including titles, headers, footnotes, etc and this may lead to the word count of the assignment being higher than what is found through traditional means, in order to ascertain the actual word count of a specific submission outside Turnitin the ‘original file’ can be downloaded alternatively, you could also ask the students to display their word count at the start of their file. 

Q.11. How do i submit student work that is only available as a print version?

A. Documents must contain text to be submitted through Turnitin files containing only images of text will be rejected during the upload attempt to determine if a document (e.g. PDF) contains actual text, copy and paste a section or all of the text into a plain-text editor (like Notepad or Textpad) If no text is copied over the selection is not actual text, users could use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to convert the image to a text document. Software such as Adobe Acrobat can apply OCR to an image to create a suitable PDF file for uploading to Turnitin, manual correction of the resulting document is highly recommended to fix any errors caused by the conversion software.

Q.12. Why do I see students that are no longer doing the module in my Turnitin assignment inbox?

A. This happens because students may have been attached to the module in UniLearn at some point during the year and would have been disabled as they are not doing the module any longer (for e.g. students changing courses/modules) However, Turnitin being another system embedded within UniLearn it can’t identify that these students are disabled in the module, these students can be ignored from the list as you can be assured that they will not have access to the module/assignment or receive any communication from this module.

Q.13. What shall I do if I don't see my current students under the Turnitin inbox?

A. If the list of students in Turnitin does not show the current students on the module clicking on the ‘Roster Sync’ link on the top right corner above the list of students should update your student list.

Q.14. What happens if Turnitin is down or unavailable at the time of submission?

A. University policy states that in the unlikely event of Turnitin being unavailable there will be an automatic extension period of two working days however, this will only be granted where there are documented instances of Turnitin outage, the two day extension period would commence at the point at which Turnitin service is resumed. Please note that the system will not automatically change the due date of your assignment in case of any outage, this will have to be updated on the assignment settings manually to allow submissions up to the newly extended due date alternatively, staff could make sure that the option to ‘Allow submissions after the due date’ is set to ‘Yes’, this will not only mark late submissions in red with the date of submission helping tutors decide which students have submitted after the extended due date but also allows students to submit within the 5 working day grace period (capped at 40%) as per assessment regulations.

Q.15. What if a student's Turnitin submission was unsuccessful?

A. Students should be made aware that a successful submission via Turnitin will always result in an acknowledgment email to their account confirming the date and time of submission, if they do not receive an email of the digital receipt they should email the assignment to their tutor as an attachment this would also apply when they get an error while trying to submit their work this is to make sure the student has had a genuine problem while submitting their work and also ensures that the student’s work is submitted within the deadline.

Q.16. What if the student can't submit their file as its size can't be brought down below the limit (20mb)?

A. Where practical all written work should be submitted to and marked through Turnitin as per the recommendations of the University Teaching and Learning Committee however, if the quality and quantity of images in the piece of assignment is of high significance as in comparison to the supporting text then Turnitin may not be suitable for this type of submission, such submissions can be made electronically using UniLearn’s Assignment tool this allows submissions up to 1GB file size however, this must be used with caution as the size limit may reduce with larger student cohorts.

Q.17. Do I have to be connected to the internet to mark students' work?

A. On a PC or Mac you have to have a continuous internet connection while you are marking, in August 2013, Turnitin launched an iPad app which allows you to download work and then take it offline to mark information on how to set this up is available at


iPark (no date), Teaching and Learning Innovation Park, [online] Available at: [Accessed on 31st May, 2013]

Turnitin (no date) Instructor Training, [online] Available at: [Accessed on 31st May, 2013]

Quick overview on Turnitin



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