Turnitin at UP for Faculty

Why We Use Turnitin

Undergraduate plagiarism is a national problem. There are many ways faculty can discourage students from plagiarizing the work of peers or web sources: by making writing assignments very specific; by rotating assignments; by checking suspicious passages through such search engines as Google; and by actively defining and discussing with your classes the problems of intellectual theft.

But the University of Portland urges you take advantage of a campus resource that can save you time: Turnitin is a web-based authenticity-detection software available through Moodle, your class-management site. Along with UP, over 2,500 universities (and thousands more high schools) now use the service.

Here's how it works: in the beginning of the term, faculty set up the semester's written assignments in their online Moodle course. As the submission date approaches, students upload their papers to the site and Turnitin checks the text against existing web sources and previous submissions, creating an originality report for each paper. (In contrast to previous years, there is no longer any need for passwords or class ID numbers, since Turnitin has been bundled with Moodle).

The continuous archiving of papers through Moodle/Turnitin is the best way to ensure UP students do not submit assignments created by fellow students. One other advantage is the archive enables you to have access to these papers in future semesters (for assisting the specificity of rec. letters, for conceiving teaching examples, etc.).

Recent years of experience with Turnitin has shown that around 2% of papers submitted at UP merit looking into as suspected cases of some form of plagiarism. Therefore, Provost Donald Stabrowski expects that all instructors (full-time faculty, lecturers, and adjuncts) who measure class proficiency through writing assignments should be using the service to help promote academic integrity on campus.

How to Use It

First, set up the assignment in Moodle: Under your PilotsUP account, click onto Moodle, and click onto your class. Next (important step), click "Turn editing on" (upper right icon). Under your "Weekly Outline" locate the correct due-date week, and in the "Add an Activity" box, select from the drop-down menu "Turnitin Assignment."

Academic Technology Services offers a brief tutorial on this step: Turnitin Tutorial

Once you have set up a Turnitin Assignment, students can upload their papers (by attachment or cut-and-paste) on their own. A day after submission, you should be able to access the complete "originality report" for all submissions, which lists the percentage of matches between the paper and existing documents, and a list of those overlapping sources.

Do note that because Turnitin only detects exact phrases, sentences, or paragraphs, it will not catch more subtle or complex plagiarism, such as lifting ideas or concepts, and close paraphrasing. Similarly, Turnitin does not distinguish between cited quotations from primary sources and material from secondary sources directly pasted into the student paper. In other words, expect that even properly cited quotations and end-citations in a student's paper will be flagged in the originality report. (That's why many papers come back flagged with a 10-25 percent match. A quick check can confirm whether the flagged text is plagiarized or merely cited.)

The informative Turnitin Help Center can be found here:

For questions, contact campus Turnitin administrator Cara Hersh (hersh@up.edu or 503.943.7262) or academic applications specialist Tony Box (box@up.edu 503.943.8774).


University of Portland
5000 N. Willamette Blvd.,
Portland, Oregon 97203-5798