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Preventing and detecting plagiarism guide for publishers

Please note that this guide is in the process of being updated

What is Turnitin®?

Turnitin® (pronounced “Turn–it–in”) is the world’s most widely used plagiarism detection solution. Recommended by Plagiarism Advice, it is used by over 90% of UK universities, a growing number of awarding and professional bodies (such as Edexcel, OCR, AQA and the IFS School of Finance), further and secondary education institutions.

How does it work?

Turnitin operates by comparing student work against eight billion pages of database content looking for unoriginal material. Several options are available to publishers for adding their content to Turnitin, such as FTP transfer and uploading files in formats such as Word, PDF files and Rich Text Format. To ensure security and peace of mind, this whole process is supported by a secure back end system. Once the initial process of contributing content to Turnitin has been set up by the publisher, it is automated, thus requiring minimal administrative effort. A number of publishers already contribute to Turnitin, which include:

  • Cengage Learning (InfoTrac OneFile)
  • Emerald
  • Coursework.Info

Why should publishers contribute their content?

Maintaining the highest standards in academic work is important to both institutions and the publishers of academic content. Institutional policy aims to ensure that all students within universities are fairly assessed, and that no one achieves an unfair advantage by plagiarising someone else’s work. The Turnitin service searches through its database to detect suspected instances of plagiarism and reports are produced based on these search results. This acts as a powerful deterrent to stop cheating before it starts. By making subscription content available to the Turnitin database, publishers can ensure that their content is correctly cited and referenced by students, and plagiarism is avoided.

It is important that Jisc, publishers and institutions work together to address the issues surrounding plagiarism to increase students’ knowledge in referencing material and confidence in using publishers’ content. In time such contributions to this database by publishers may become a requirement of our future agreements.

How will the content be used?

The content provided to the Turnitin database is used for checking against student works for the identification of plagiarism only. Turnitin does not provide users direct access to any of the material stored in its content database. Turnitin simply highlights the passages in the student work that have been included verbatim from a published source and names that source.

Why are institutions adopting Turnitin?

The availability of online journals and resources has had a positive impact on teaching and learning. With these new opportunities for enriching education and research, there is also the continued need to ensure that students correctly cite and reference material. Cutting and pasting text from an online source into a document only takes a few seconds. However as outlined earlier it is important that students are not tempted to either deliberately cheat or pass off published material and other sources of electronic information as their own work through poor academic practice. Institutions, awarding and professional bodies are now actively looking at strategies to prevent poor practice and detect plagiarism from the internet or online services such as those licensed by Jisc Collections.

What is plagiarism?

Essentially plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s work as though it were your own original work. The concept has been around for at least as long as the printed word and, as high profile court cases in the music industry have shown, is not confined to the world of education. However, there has been growing unease in recent years in universities and colleges worldwide about the impact of new technologies, such as the internet and email, and the ease with which plagiarism can be affected by their use. Further details available from Plagiarism Advice.

References and further information

Last updated: March 2016