FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
[Edited and adapted from Turnitin's Brochure and Turnitin's Plagiarism FAQ ]
Q : What is Turnitin?
A : Turnitin is a Web-based plagiarism detection service available to EIU faculty, staff, and students who are currently teaching, supporting teaching activities, or enrolled at EIU. The parent organization of Turnitin is Plagiarism.org.
Q : How does Turnitin work?
A : A technology developed by Turnitin, called document source analysis, uses a set of powerful algorithms to make a digital "fingerprint" of any text document and then compare it against millions of other sources held in the Turnitin database. By continually cataloging and indexing online academic works with automated web robots, Turnitin has compiled a massive database of digital material. Online paper mills are a major focus of the searches. A complement to the Internet data-mining capabilities is Turnitin's archiving function: papers from participating courses and other academic web sites are also indexed and stored in Turnitin's secure, in-house database.
Q : As a faculty member, how do I sign up for a Turnitin account?
A : Fill out the online form and allow up to five business days for account creation.
Q : If I am a student, how do I sign up for a Turnitin account?
A : Your instructor must give you a class ID number and a class enrollment password. Then, you visit www.turnitin.com to create your user profile and use the class ID and enrollment password to enroll in a class to submit an assignment.
Q : Where can I get support?
A : Turnitin is a commercial service made available to the EIU campus community. Because it is a commercial service, most support will be from Turnitin. However, the EIU Help Desk (217.581.HELP) can provide some assistance for both students and faculty. Faculty also have the support of their college ISS and the CATS office.
Q : What is plagiarism?
A : Plagiarism is the improper use, or failure to attribute, another person's writing or ideas. It can be as subtle as the inadvertent neglect to include quotes or references when citing another source or as blatant as knowingly copying an entire paper verbatim and claiming it as your own work. Turnitin Research Resources provides additional information.
Q : Is plagiarism really that big a problem?
A : Yes! According to a 1998 survey by Who's Who Among American High School Students, four out of five college-bound high school students admit to cheating on schoolwork, and a recent Center for Academic Integrity study reports that 80 percent of college students admit to cheating at least once. Additionally, the latest polls from the Gallup organization indicate respondents consider a crisis in education and a decline in ethics to be the top two problems facing America today. Additional information about current statistics is provided at Turnitin.
Q : What are the consequences of plagiarism for students?
A : The consequences can be severe. Since students must abide by formal rules of conduct, EIU Standards of Student Conduct Codes , committing plagiarism constitutes breaking one of academia's most fundamental rules. Consequences of plagiarism in higher education may include: a failing grade on a paper, a failing grade in a class, a formal university hearing, a mark on your transcript, probationary status, or even expulsion from the university. Turnitin provides additional Research Resources concerning the consequences of plagiarism.
Q : As a faculty member is there a way I can look up the enrollment password I created for my class?
A : Log in to Turnitin and locate the box with a line for each of your classes. Click on the green button under the heading "update" at the far right of the line for each class you have created. This process will show you the class name and enrollment password for that class. You can always change the class password from this view.
Q : How are papers uploaded?
A : The process is simple. Students or faculty log in to their Turnitin account, find the appropriate class, and then either: a) "copy-and-paste" their paper into a text box and click "submit," or b) browse for a file (just like an email attachment) and submit the assignment. Turnitin accepts file uploads in a number of formats which includes MS Word, plain text, RTF, PDF and Postscript. If the paper does not already exist in digital format, it can be scanned with OCR software and then uploaded by either of the two above methods. Turnitin offers tutorials and quickstarts.
Q : Are uploaded student papers kept confidential?
A :Yes. The EIU license with Turnitin specifies a privacy pledge in accordance with FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The U.S. Department of Education's FERPA Regulations give the requirements on the confidentiality of student records and information. If you are concerned about student privacy, you may use aliases for actual student names when submitting papers for review by Turnitin. Aliases are and additional optional measure to ensure student privacy. The paper will not be released without author or instructor permission.
Q : If I submit a paper for one class and then submit the same paper again for another class, can I correctly be accused of plagiarism?
A : Not plagiarism, but certainly a lower academic standard. If you do not properly reference yourself and the content extracted from your previous paper, then you are recycling work. Turnitin has additional Research Resources for more information about citing written works. Also, you may be in violation of the standards set by a college, department, or professor. You should get permission from the instructor to reuse your previously written paper.
Q : How long does it take to create an Originality Report?
A : The actual analysis takes seconds. Instructors can choose either "FastTrack" or "24-hour turnaround" for Originality Report generation. With FastTrack, reports appear in the instructor's inbox within three to four hours. The 24-hour turnaround option allows students to resubmit a paper as many times as they wish within a 24-hour window, giving students the ability to correct any errors or omissions that they may have made. Coming soon, FastTrack reports will be generated even faster -- normally within minutes of an original submission.
Q : Does Turnitin check against newspaper articles and books to ensure that students have not cut-and-pasted from them?
A : Yes. The majority of the world's newspapers and periodicals DO reside on the Internet. Manuscripts are checked against these digital sources along with the billions of pages on the Web. Unfortunately, not all literature resides on the Internet. However, if a book was to be placed somewhere on the Internet, Turnitin would be able to detect future instances of its use.
Q : How does Turnitin keep from having too many matches for common papers such as ones concerning frequently taught material like Romeo and Juliet or To Kill a Mockingbird?
A : Document source analysis is carefully calibrated to eliminate as many trivial matches as possible, while still identifying relevant matching passages. This calibration makes use of extensive analysis of language patterns, word frequencies, and other advanced techniques to minimize "noise" without losing key information.
Q : If a paper that receives a high similarity rating, is it necessarily plagiarized?
A : No. There are a number of perfectly legitimate reasons for a paper receiving a high similarity rating. For example, a properly cited paper with numerous references may show a high similarity. Likewise, a paper previously submitted to Turnitin by the student for self-checking prior to final submission (if an instructor allows that capability) will show a high similarity. A high similarity rating simply indicates to an instructor that this paper should be reviewed for possible plagiarism. The determination whether or not a paper is plagiarized is still left of to the judgment of the instructor.
Q : I am a faculty member. What should I do if I believe a student is guilty of plagiarism?
A : First and foremost, you must remember that students have rights and are entitled to due process. Faculty must familiarize themselves with those student rights and with EIUs judicial processes. General information can be found at the Judicial Affairs Office.
Q : I am a student. What can I do if I am accused of plagiarism?
A : To a great extent, the answer is different if you are guilty or innocent. In either case, you should be familiar with your rights as a student and with EIU's judicial process. General information can be found at the Judicial Affairs Office . Specific information and procedures are outlined in the Standards of Student Conduct Codes .