Gill Rowell - Oxford Brookes University

Embedding Turnitin in policy and
Gill Rowell, Academic Advisor,
[email protected]
9 June, 2011.
© 2010 iParadigms, LLC
All Rights Reserved.
Aims of today’s session
• How things have moved on since 2009.
• Present a snapshot of policy and practice in UK institutions with
examples of good practice.
• Case study from one UK institution.
Quick and dirty survey
• Short 10 question survey sent out via closed TurnitinUK-usergroup
JISCmail list.
• Around 60 UK institutions represented on list.
• Total number of institutions (HE and FE) in UK using Turnitin is around
• Only 12 institutions responded!
• Response rate therefore 20% of institutions on list, around 4% of total
UK Turnitin population.
General view on plagiarism
How have we moved on?
• 47% increase in total submissions to Turnitin from 2008/9 to 2010/1
academic year.
• Anecdotal evidence suggests Turnitin more embedded in policy and
• Turnitin increasingly used as e-submission and e-marking tool.
Policy and procedure
• 82% of respondents are aware of regulations at their institution and
feel confident in their implementation.
• For 50% of respondents their institutional regulations provide specific
guidance on use of Turnitin.
• Martin King (Royal Holloway, University of London) in survey of users in
November 2010 (n=57) found 60% of those responding had policy in
place to guide use of Turnitin.(King, 2010)
“Policy works”...
“In developing the policy, make explicit the strategies that are
used to help identify possible instances of unacceptable
academic practice, including the role of text-matching tools...
It is helpful to have agreed guidelines on identifying unacceptable
academic practice and to establish a policy for using a tool, such
as Turnitin, that specifies why and how it is to be used by staff
and by students.” (Higher Education Academy, 2011)
Clarity in case processing.
Prevent ad hoc use.
Avoid isolated unsupported use of Turnitin.
Present a consistent and structured approach to students.
Ensure approach to using Originality Report is rigorous.
Many and varied
(Caselli, 2006)
UK models of use
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Some good practice pointers
What’s good...
• Emphasis on student submission rather than submission by tutors.
• No use of “profiling” model ie where work is submitted from particular
groups of students.
• Formative models widely used, formative demonstration model and
formative supported.
What’s surprising...
• No one using sampling approach.
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Formative vs summative use
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In practice
Whichever approach you choose ensure clear guidance is provided to both
staff and students:
– State aims of Turnitin use (formative and/or summative).
– Present pros and cons where there is a choice!
– When use is mandatory.
– When and where discretion in use is permitted.
– Any other specific conditions of use.
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Turnitin Originality Report
• “An Originality report should never be advanced as the sole reason for suspecting that a
piece of work is plagiarised, because the judgement as to whether work is plagiarised
must always be an academic judgement.” (University of East London)
• Only 3 institutions in survey stated they provide specific guidance on interpreting the
Originality Report to students.
• Originality Report is widely used as evidence for case processing.
− Encouragingly in majority of cases respondents stated that this must be supported
by academic judgement (referred to as “markers’ view” or “argument from
academic”) .
• Very useful video for students on interpreting the Originality Report by Oxford Brookes.
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A thorny question...
(Lieser, 2008)
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Setting thresholds
• 83% of respondents said they didn’t set thresholds of acceptability.
• “Carefully consider the potential impact of any matching text, for instance 20%
of matching text in a report may have more impact than 40% in another. For
instance, consider the impact of a 20% match from a final year dissertation of
15,000 words as compared with the same percentage from a level 1 1,500 word
essay. Also reflect on the implications of impact in terms of the work in hand, ie
a relatively small percentage of matching text may have a huge impact on the
work itself especially if it is from a key area of the work such as the discussion
or findings section where critical concepts are discussed. Again, many
institutions will take into account the potential impact of any plagiarised text, in
addition to the quantifiable measure when allocating a penalty.” (Rowell, 2009)
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• 82% have Academic Conduct Officer (or similar) at their institution.
• 83% offer training in use of Turnitin, but this is not a requirement.
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• Approaches to using Turnitin are as many and varied as the student
population itself.
• Transparency and clarity are paramount whatever your approach.
• If use is embedded is it now time to think about review?
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Theory into practice...
Simon Starr, Canterbury Christ Church University
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Caselli, A. (2006), Living colours. Flickr [Online] Available at:
(Accessed: 23 May 2011).
The Higher Education Academy (2011), Policy works [Online] Available at:
(Accessed:23 May 2011).
King, M. (2010) Turnitin: Student access to Originality Reports [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 23 May 2011).
Lieser, T. (2008), Thorns on its side # 1. Flickr [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 19 May 2011).
Oxfordbrookes (2011), Oxford Brookes University: How to interpret Turnitin reports. Available at: (Accessed: 19 May 2011).
Policy on the use of Turntin within UEL (2008), University of East London [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 19 May 2011).
Rowell, G. (2009) Interpreting the TurnitinUK Originality Report (internal report).
Zanzibar (2006) Clear waters. Flickr [Online] Available at:
(Accessed: 19 May 2011).
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