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Practising and ensuring good scientific practice in academic writing with the support of the Turnitin system

The Turnitin Feedback Studio system is used in supervising and practising academic writing in different phases of studies. The system helps with profiling the use of sources in texts. It compares the text to extensive publication databases and Internet content. In addition, it offers automated tools for language proofing.
Turnitin is a system for providing feedback. Teachers can add comments and corrections directly onto the text that is being evaluated or attach oral evaluations to it as voice recordings. As for numerical grading, Feedback Studio offers several matrix models.
Students can carry out intermediate checks of their assignment and thesis texts using Turnitin Feedback Studio. Teachers can collect the course work using the Turnitin assignment according to their discretion. Researchers can use Turnitin to ensure the validity of the reference system in their article manuscripts.

Video: Turnitin Feedback Studio Walktrough

Turnitin identifies intentional and unintentional mistakes. Borrowing material produced by another person and presenting it as your own work is plagiarism. It breaks the ethical principles of research that make up the so-called good scientific practice. At the University of Turku, an electronic originality check is required of all theses concerning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and postgraduate degrees in order to ensure the realisation of good scientific practice.
There are separate procedure instructions for the checking process of all degree levels. They are presented here along with the general instructions for checking the originality of research plans concerning Graduate School applications. It is recommended to use Turnitin for checking all texts that will be published.
A Moodle course equipped with the Turnitin function can only be requested by a member of teaching and research personnel of the University of Turku. For the Moodle course, students can ask the teacher to open an independently used Turnitin assignment for analysing manuscripts so that they are not stored in the database.

Checking theses concerning Bachelor’s degrees
How to access Turnitin?

[Instructions for teachers]
The Turnitin Feedback Studio plagiarism detection system is a supplement function of the University of Turku’s Moodle virtual learning environment. It is always used via Moodle.
When preparing for checking theses, a Moodle course with a readily-installed Turnitin function must be requested. In order to check theses concerning Bachelor’s degrees, a Moodle-Turnitin course must be requested from utu.fi/tilaaturnitin.

In the request form’s Reasons for wanting this course field, mark that the purpose is to check a Bachelor’s thesis. The abbreviation “Turnitin, Bachelor’s” may be used.  

Cource Request, Bachelor's

In the request form’s Reasons for wanting this course field, mark that the purpose is to check a Bachelor’s thesis. The abbreviation “Turnitin, Bachelor’s” may be used.


Benefits of using Turnitin throughout the writing process

[Instructions for teachers and students]
You will get a link by email to your new Moodle-Turnitin course. Send the link in time to students writing their theses. It is recommended that students save their texts into the system themselves so that it is certain that the texts are saved under their names. Use e.g. Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, or Safari as the browser. Internet Explorer does not fully support the use of Turnitin. The course’s Turnitin assignments are marked with the "Turntin icon"-icon.

Cources screen

One freely accessible Turnitin assignment is included in each Moodle-Turnitin course and it is delivered according to request for checking unfinished texts. Encourage students to use it independently!

Submint paper screen

How to process the similarity report?

[Instructions for teachers and students]
Bachelor’s theses checked in Turnitin are not stored, i.e. they will not remain as visible reference material in the UTU reference repository in the Turnitin system (Vice Rector’s decision on 13 Aug 2013).
Turnitin produces a similarity report on the basis of which teachers can give additional guidance or the certificate for the originality check. 
The University is collaborating with Aalto University on developing the use of Turnitin Feedback Studio. Instructions on interpreting the similarity report and giving feedback are available on Aalto University's website. NB! Instructions on pages that are not directly linked from this site do not apply to the University of Turku.

See: 

For Students:

Students may have intermediate versions of texts included in their theses saved in different Turnitin assignments. As the teacher, you may filter out these version overlaps and the “referencing your own work” cases easily from the similarity report.

Originality_report - example of filtering

Example of filtering: The fifth article of the doctoral dissertation has already previously been published in a scientific periodical. When the original copy of the article is fed into Turnitin, the report shows the address where the text’s duplicate is found. The correspondence is not 100% as hyphens show in the PDF copy as additional codes, and words divided by hyphenation are not identified. 
It is a question of permissible “referencing your own work” cases that can be filtered out by the teacher not to prevent the examining of other correspondences. When filtering 1) choose All sources, 2) choose Exclude sources, 3) choose the sources you want to delete, 4) click Exclude. Also a www.utupub.fi correspondence of 25% refers to the writer’s own earlier publication.


Content and significance of originality certificate

[Instructions for teachers and students]
The checking certificate does not include numerical grading or textual evaluation of the work. The certificate can be granted when the manuscript has been written according to those ethical principles of research that have been described in the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity's guideline Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland and in the University of Turku’s Ethical guidelines for learning.
The certificate provided by the supervisor on the ethical quality of the work describes the situation on the date of checking, thus limiting the reviewer’s responsibility. Checking the same text later against rapidly complemented comparison databases may provide a different result. However, the reviewer is not responsible for its evaluation concerning research ethics.
Already in the writing phase, students must be reminded that information on the originality check required by the University of Turku must be added onto one of the first pages of the theses. Without this information and the checking certificate, the faculty will not accept the thesis for grading.


Links:
FairUTU Certificate
Control mark

Checking Master’s degree works

The originality check is carried out for Master's theses / advanced studies’ final projects concerning Master’s degrees according to the separate UTUThesis process. The phases of the thesis process are plagiarism detection, evaluation and approval process, electronic publishing, and electronic archiving.
The instructions of the UTUThesis process can be found at https://utuguides.fi/ututhesis. The UTUThesis service is only used for evaluating and publishing Master’s theses.

Master’s theses are stored as reference material in the University of Turku’s reference repository in the Turnitin system.

Checking postgraduate theses and dissertations
How to access Turnitin?

[Instructions for teachers]
In order to check postgraduate theses and dissertations, a Moodle-Turnitin course must be requested from utu.fi/tilaaturnitin.

In the request form’s Reasons for wanting this course field, mark that it is a dissertation concerning a postgraduate degree that must be checked. The abbreviation “Turnitin, diss.” may be used. 

Cource request, diss.

All students do not need an individual Moodle Turnitin course, as the same assignment for the postgraduate thesis course can be used for all students writing their theses. In the Turnitin assignment, students only see their own documents, evaluation reports, and the possible feedback.


Benefits of using Turnitin throughout the writing process

[Instructions for teachers and students]
You will get a link by email to your new Moodle-Turnitin course. Send the link to your students writing their theses. It is recommended that students save their texts into the system themselves so that it is certain that the texts are saved under their names. 
One freely available Turnitin assignment is included in each Moodle-Turnitin course that is delivered according to request for checking unfinished texts. Encourage students to use it independently from the beginning of the thesis process! 
If the licentiate thesis or doctoral dissertation is based on articles, the originality check must be carried out separately for each of the articles. In the Turnitin function of the requested Moodle course, there are five standardised submit sections for different articles. If you need several parallel submit sections for the articles, specify this already when requesting the course.
Theses concerning postgraduate degrees are stored as reference material in the University of Turku’s reference repository in the Turnitin system. Saving the texts, students approve this procedure that simultaneously strengthens the copyright protection of the theses.


How to process the similarity report?

[Instructions for teachers and students]
Turnitin produces a similarity report on the basis of which the teacher can give feedback or the originality certificate. 
The University is collaborating with Aalto University on developing Turnitin Feedback Studio. Instructions on interpreting the similarity report and giving feedback are available on Aalto University's website. NB! Instructions on pages that are not directly linked from this site do not apply to the University of Turku.

See: 

For Students:

Students may have intermediate versions of texts included in their theses saved in different Turnitin assignments. As the teacher, you may filter out these version overlaps and the “referencing your own work” cases easily from the similarity report.

Originality report, example of filtering

Example of filtering: The fifth article of the doctoral dissertation has already previously been published in a scientific periodical. When the original copy of the article is fed into Turnitin, the report shows the address where the text’s duplicate is found. The correspondence is not 100% as hyphens show in the PDF copy as additional codes, and words divided by hyphenation are not identified. 
It is a question of permissible “referencing your own work” cases that can be filtered out by the teacher not to prevent the examining of other correspondences. When filtering 1) choose All sources, 2) choose Exclude sources, 3) choose the sources you want to delete, 4) click Exclude. Also a www.utupub.fi correspondence of 25% refers to the writer’s own earlier publication.


Content and significance of originality certificate

[Instructions for teachers and students]
The checking certificate does not include numerical grading or textual evaluation of the work. The certificate can be granted when the manuscript has been written according to those ethical principles of research that have been described in the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity's guideline Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland and in the University of Turku’s Ethical guidelines for learning.
The certificate provided by the supervisor on the ethical quality of the work describes the situation on the date of checking, thus limiting the reviewer’s responsibility. Checking the same text later against rapidly complemented comparison databases may provide a different result. However, the reviewer is not responsible for its evaluation concerning research ethics.
Already in the writing phase, students must be reminded that information on the originality check required by the University of Turku must be added onto one of the first pages of the theses. Without this information and the checking certificate, the faculty will not accept the thesis for grading.


Links:

Add a Turnitin assignment activity (submission inbox)
FairUTU Certificate
Control mark

Checking research plans in graduate school applications

The originality of the research plan of the applicants to the University of Turku Graduate School is checked. For the check, Moodle-Turnitin courses are offered for each doctoral programme. Each reviewer will receive their own assignment. The doctoral programme coordinators are responsible for organising and supporting the originality check.

Checking manuscripts for publications, presentations and project works

[Instructions for teachers, researchers and students]
Teachers and researchers can use the University’s Turnitin Feedback Studio for checking their own research articles, presentations and other manuscripts.
When activating a Turnitin assignment for this purpose on the Moodle course, change the default setting on storing to “No Repository”. If a preliminary examiner or peer-reviewer has to evaluate a text produced at another organisation, it is recommended to request the originality report primarily from the author’s higher education institution. If the University’s Turnitin is needed for the checking, it has to be ensured that the assignment's repository setting is set to “No Repository”.
Students can also be offered an opportunity to use open Turnitin assignment on the Moodle course as a tool in using references in their manuscripts while not storing the text.

The University is collaborating with Aalto University on developing Turnitin Feedback Studio. Instructions on interpreting the similarity report and giving feedback are available on Aalto University's website. NB! Instructions on pages that are not directly linked from this site do not apply to the University of Turku.

See: 

Students may have intermediate versions of texts included in their theses saved in different Turnitin assignments. As the teacher, you may filter out these version overlaps and the “referencing your own work” cases easily from the similarity report.


 

Similarity is not always plagiarism

Each discipline has its own conventions in academic writing which are also reflected in the text’s similarity to other works in the similarity report. In describing the research, there is a larger variety of expressions available, for example, in human sciences than in natural sciences. The descriptive language of experimental research can be strongly standardised so that different studies are well comparable. This produces acceptable and even required similarity in researchers’ texts. The context where the similarity takes place defines its significance in each separate case. Therefore, no reference values for an acceptable similarity percentage can be given for texts. 

The next instructions are based on Kari Silpiö’s article on plagiarism ("Plagiarismin hallinnan yhteiset peruskäsitteet" in Sähköinen plagiaatintunnistus Suomen korkeakouluissa 2013) With the author’s permission, a shorter parallel version of the article was edited for this guide: 

Ethical writing and permissible citation

According to Roig, an implicit contract underlying  ethical writing allows the reader to assume the following: (a) that the author is the sole originator of the text, (b) that any ideas and texts borrowed from others are clearly identified as such by way of appropriate references, and (c) that the aim has been to include any indirect citations without distorting the factual content of the original.1 

References required by ethical writing are included in a systematic manner in accordance with the rules of a generally known reference system2. The basic elements of a reference system are a bibliography and references included in the text. The systematic use of a reference system requires the following:

  • All direct and indirect quotes are indicated with references
  • References are marked with the required annotation.
  • The bibliography is compiled in accordance with requirements. 
  • All sources mentioned in references are included in the bibliography
    (or, depending on the reference system used, in footnotes).
  • The text includes references to all sources mentioned in the bibliography.

Permissible citation3 requires that

  • all quotes are marked with the appropriate reference
  • the reference indicates the extent of the quote so that it is distinguishable from the author's own thinking/knowledge
  • in the case of a direct quote included without permission by the author of the source, the right to quote applies.

In accordance with the right to quote, a direct quote may be included in the text without the author's permission if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The work used as source is published (made available to the public by permission of the author).
  • The quote is made in accordance with good practice, which requires that (a) the quote is clearly separated from the personal rendering of the person making the quote, (b) the source is mentioned in the appropriate manner, and (c) the contents of the quote are acceptably connected to the personal rendering of the person making the quote.
  • The quote is only made to the extent required for the purpose.

Basic problems related to deficient references to sources include the following: 

  • poorer quality of the author's own presentation
  • distortion of information (as one's own and quoted information become mixed)
  • violation of copyright (depends on the case)
  • plagiarism (when a quote is presented in one's own name)4

___________________________

Roig, M. 2006. Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices. A guide to ethical writing. https://ori.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/plagiarism.pdf

2 Depending on the branch of science and/or publisher, the reference system used is either one in which references are given as numbers or one in which the reference mentions the authors, year of publication and page numbers in brackets. 

Permission given by the original author does not as such suffice  to meet the criteria of the concept “permissible citation”.

4 Specific harm caused by plagiarism is analysed in the source Silpiö 2012, 93.

Three perspectives for examining the concept of plagiarism

The following three perspectives were specified for analysing the concept of plagiarism: the general perspective, the perspective of research and the perspective of teaching.

 

The general perspective focuses on the goals, common for all perspectives, of respecting authorship and copyright. The following dictionary definitions by the Institute for the Languages of Finland1, represent the general perspective:

  • plagiarise   to present another author's text, music or other such artistic or scientific production as one's own, to steal
  • plagiarism  a literary or artistic theft, a plagiarised piece of work; a work or part of it based on such

 

In the narrowest sense of the word, a plagiarised piece of work may comprise one quote without quotation marks.

* * *

Note about the terms “plagiarism” and “a plagiarised piece of work”: that they are not legal terms used in Finnish legislation. They are not present in the Criminal Code, Copyright Act, Universities Act or Polytechnics Act in Finland. Legal terminology defines “theft” as an act that involves movable property. From the viewpoint of copyright, plagiarism may expressly involve a violation of intellectual property rights.

The perspective of research places particular emphasis on the production of scientific information and scientific writing. In the RCR guidelines2 drawn up by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity and prepared for the purposes of scientific research3, plagiarism is classified as one of the four subcategories of research misconduct. The others are misappropriation, fabrication and falsification (misrepresentation). The following definition in the RCR guidelines represents the perspective of research in defining plagiarism:

  • Plagiarism, or unacknowledged borrowing, refers to representing another person’s material as one’s own without appropriate references. This includes research plans, manuscripts, articles, other texts or parts of them, visual materials, or translations. Plagiarism includes direct copying as well as adapted copying.

In the RCR guidelines, representing another person's unpublished material as one's own is included in the subcategory of misappropriation as follows:

  • Misappropriation refers to the unlawful presentation of another person’s result, idea, plan, observation or data as one’s own research.

In the RCR guideline, self-plagiarism is classified as part of the concept of “disregard for the responsible conduct of research”4 and defined as follows: “publishing the same research results multiple times, ostensibly as new and novel results (redundant publication, also referred to as self-plagiarism).”

The perspective of teaching places particular emphasis on learning, the assessment of learning and competence, and the assessment of study attainments5. If a student has not performed the work he or she represents as his or her own, the evaluation does not in this respect target the personal learning and competence of the student in question. Theses constitute a special intersection for the perspectives of teaching and research.

The teaching perspective can be regarded as involving the strictest requirements of all of the three perspectives studied above, because it covers all types of output represented by the student for the purpose of assessing the study attainment and in addition to reviewing the output, it emphasises the question of who performed the actual work resulting in the output presented for assessment.

___________________

Kielitoimiston sanakirja 2019

2 Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity 2012. Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland.

3 Suspected violations of RCR in scientific theses are also examined in line with the RCR guidelines from higher university degrees upwards. In addition, the RCR guidelines apply to the work of teachers and teaching materials. The guidelines oblige higher education institutions to teach good scientific practices and research ethics in both basic and further university education. However, the RCR guidelines were not prepared for the assessment of actual study attainments of basic university degrees.

4 “Disregard for the responsible conduct of research manifests itself as gross negligence.

5 The term “assessment” as used in this chapter covers both diagnostic, formative and summative assessment and the assessment of study attainment as referred to in the Polytechnics Act and the Universities Act. 

Plagiarism in a study attainment

The concept of plagiarism in a study attainment is defined as follows:

  1. the intentional or unintentional representation of work performed by another as one's own in a manner that misleads the assessor of the study attainment,

  2. representing the same work for assessment as part of more than one study attainment in a manner that misleads the assessor of the study attainment.

The expression “work performed by another" expands the number of sources related to plagiarism in a study attainment beyond scientific and artistic production and it does not require the source to be of a standard that exceeds the threshold of work. The expression “intentional or unintentional" is added to the definition to emphasise that the act considered as plagiarism can also take place unintentionally. Even unintentional plagiarism produces a plagiarised piece of work.

The expression “in a manner that misleads the assessor of the study attainment" is intended to emphasise the fact that even a careful assessor of a study attainment may end up with an incorrect notion of the authorship of a work or part of a work represented by a student for assessment. It also excludes situations in which an unfinished intermediate version of work is assessed or the assessor of a study attainment otherwise finds the presented work to be so incomplete that it is not subjected to more detailed review before the student has completed it to a sufficient degree, for example. In addition, the assessor of a study attainment may consider the context1. The text of an exercise written by a novice (which includes errors) and that of a completed doctoral dissertation (must be precisely in order) are to be read and evaluated in different ways. 

The definition of the concept “plagiarism in a study attainment” also includes so-called self-plagiarism as follows: “representing the same work for assessment as part of more than one study attainment in a manner that misleads the assessor of the study attainment.” The principle followed in higher education institutions allows students to use the same work in more than one study attainment only subject to a case-by-case agreement with the assessor of the study attainment on the possible way of utilising the work. Even when quoting one's own work with permission, the origin of the quote must be indicated.

______________

1 Such as the initial skills of a student group and the requirements applicable to each study attainment and exercise. 

Student cheating and plagiarism as misconduct
Student cheating

student cheating    a dishonest method or act in order to mislead the assessor of a study attainment

In the case of student cheating, the aim of misleading the assessor of the study attainment is to gain benefit for oneself or another student related to the assessment of the study attainment.

Some acts regarded as student cheating1 can be unambiguously considered as intentional, including cheating in an exam, taking an exam on behalf of another student, falsifying attendance and representing an answer to an exercise problem or assignment performed by another student in one's own name.

plagiarism as misconduct

Both intentional plagiarism and plagiarism resulting from aggravated disregard are classified as plagiarism as misconduct, excluding plagiarism resulting from minor negligence, plagiarism resulting from a justified misunderstanding and plagiarism resulting from the lack of skills and knowledge exceeding the minimum requirements specified for a study attainment, for example2.

The examination of an act meeting the characteristics of plagiarism involves the assessment of the author's intent and compliance with the obligation to act with due care. Some acts regarded as plagiarism can be unambiguously considered as intentional. Such acts include representing work commissioned from another person3 as one's own, representing work copied from another student as one's own, and representing work copied from another source, unchanged, as one's own. 

Graph 1 presents the relation of plagiarism and student cheating as a Venn diagram. The scope of plagiarism as misconduct is at the intersection of actual plagiarism and student cheating. Electronic detection of plagiarism only extends to such acts of plagiarism in simple text format whose sources are accessible to the PD software.

Plagiarism, as academic misconduct, student cheating.
 

Graph 1: Plagiarism, plagiarism as misconduct and student cheating.

In the case of an identified act of plagiarism, it must be examined whether it is a question of plagiarism as misconduct. This examination can be performed through the concepts of legal assessment of intent, for example (Table).

Unintentional act, negligent act, intentional act.

Table: Scale for grading the degree of intent in an act or attempted act

When assessing intent, it is very challenging to establish the boundaries between intent and negligence and care and carelessness. It is not always possible to gain sufficient information about the intent of the person committing the act, or whether he or she realised that the act would result in a consequence.

__________________

1 Acts regarded as student cheating are listed in the source Silpiö (2012, 46–49).
In the case of a novice, the minimum required level may involve mentioning of the source, for example, while the use of the technical details of a reference system is being practised.
In this context, the concept “work” includes both the work required for producing the end result, and the end result (e.g. text) itself or part of it.

 

Forms of plagiarism related to study attainment

Common forms of plagiarism related to texts include:

  • The source of a direct or indirect quote is not referenced.
  • A direct quote is represented as is, marked as an indirect quote.
  • A superficially modified1 direct quote is marked as an indirect quote.
  • A reference is given so that its scope in one's own text does not cover the quoted section in full.
  • A reference is marked as referring to the primary source, even though a secondary source was used as the source of the quote in question.

The following examples represent some of the most common errors and defects in references that do not as such constitute forms of plagiarism:

  • The reference covers the scope of the quote but it refers to an incorrect source of the incorrect point in the correct source.
  • The details of the source given in the reference are not included in the bibliography.
  • Information provided in the bibliography about the source is deficient or incorrect.
  • The reference covers a section in one's own text that is larger than the quoted section2.
  • A direct quote does not meet the criteria of the right to quote.

Plagiarism in a study attainment does not require the plagiarised source to be of a standard exceeding the threshold of work, and targets of plagiarism may include not only published but unpublished sources as well. For example, in a typical case of peer plagiarism, a student presents as his or her own a work performed by another student for the same or a corresponding assignment. In the case of dishonest cooperation (collusion), a student presents work performed in collaboration with another person as his or her own individual attainment. In addition, freeriding in teamwork results in a situation where a student presents work performed by another student as his or her own.

The form of presenting common knowledge is protected by copyright. Therefore, in the case of a direct quote of a word form, appropriate reference is required by copyright. For instance, in accordance with Hirsjärvi et al.,3 “–– ideas, lines of thought and word forms directly taken from another must be marked with references in the appropriate manner." In addition to texts, plagiarism may target various visual and audiovisual productions, compositions, choreographies, speeches and other performances, product models, concepts, graphs and the codes of computer software and similar creations4.

Some of the acts considered as plagiarism in study attainments can be regarded as unambiguous plagiarism as misconduct, regardless of the situation. Such acts include representing work commissioned from another person5 as one's own, representing work copied from another student as one's own, and representing work copied from another source, unchanged, as one's own.

This guide divides the forms of plagiarism in study attainments into the following subcategories:

  1. Direct copying 
  2. Copying by way of paraphrasing
  3. Freeriding in a teamwork assignment
  4. Collusion
  5. Self-plagiarism.

Graph 3 presents the continuum of plagiarism in connection with study attainments. The principles of ethical writing6 are supplemented in the graph by mentioning the right to quote. The scope of the concept of plagiarism in a study attainment includes both unintentional plagiarism and plagiarism as misconduct. Intentional plagiarism or plagiarism resulting from aggravated disregard are regarded as plagiarism as misconduct. Ethical writing is the method that complies with good scientific practice. In the case of plagiarism as misconduct, the misdemeanour is a serious one that violates the principles of good scientific practice.

 

eettinen kirjoittaminen

Graph 3: Continuum of plagiarism related to study attainment. 

When examining the scope of the concept of plagiarism in a study attainment, self-plagiarism, freeriding in a teamwork assignment and collusion are at least to a certain extent border concepts. As such, they are not compatible with the highly general definitions of the concept of plagiarism. However, they are often included in the scope of the concept of plagiarism in international reference literature, particularly in the context of higher education.

In the case of self-plagiarism, the original source is not used and mentioned in the appropriate manner. In the case of freeriding in a teamwork assignment and collusion, it is a question of adopting another person's work in one's own name. The inclusion of these three subcategories in the scope of the concept of plagiarism in a study attainment emphasises the importance of understanding the issue and guides students to adopt procedures compliant with good scientific practices.

 ________________

For instance, changes to the word order and/or the direct replacement of a few words with others constitute superficial modification.

The reference covers e.g. an entire paragraph in one's own text, even though only one sentence in the paragraph in question includes a quote.

3 Hirsjärvi, Remes & Sajavaara 2006, 111.

4 Peer plagiarism of computer software code is a typical example of the forms of plagiarism as misconduct related to study attainments. The issue is analysed in the following source: Silpiö (2012, 75–77).

5 In this context, the concept “work” includes both the work required for producing the end result, and the end result (e.g. text) itself or part of it.

6 Roig 2006.

 

How does Turnitin work?

In its basic function, Turnitin is a full-text search engine. It compares the uploaded material to three databases:
Ref. 1) the indexed websites on the open internet,
Ref. 2) published publications, publication series and research databases requiring a subscription, and
Ref. 3) the manuscripts that have been saved in the Turnitin system.
The system breaks the text down into smaller units which it uses as search phrases.

On the basis of the search result, the system creates a similarity report where the similarities are described as a descending list. In the report view, the users can browse the identified comparison materials. The view also includes several utility functions for annotation, feedback and evaluation.

Turnitin process: The Teacher’s Moodle course with the Turnitin function, The student submits a file to an assignment on Turnitin, The similarity report, The Teacher interprets the Report.

 

Comparison data

Turnitin operates globally. Contents related to education and research are indexed from the internet from over 130 countries.

As of March 2019, 67 billion webpages were indexed in the Turnitin database. Due to the wide extent, the latest updates to pages are not immediately shown on the report. There are 178 million journal articles subject to subscription in the database. Furthermore, 927 million text manuscripts have been saved to the database by Turnitin users. 

Turnitin also identifies synonymous and direct similarities between languages. This comparison between languages functions in technical descriptions between the world’s largest languages and especially between, for example, Romance languages. Smaller languages, such as Finnish and Estonian, do not benefit from this function.

The international partners providing Turnitin an access to published subscription content are ABC CLIO, Cengage Learning, EBSCOHost, Emerald Journals, Gale, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Wiley, ProQuest, PubMed/MedLine, and SAGE. Of the Finnish publishers, Duodecim, for example, has included the Turnitin indexing in their publication process. 

Structure of the similarity report

In the similarity report, Turnitin marks the parts of original text with colour codes which have a match or a partial match with another text. The address links to these references are listed in the right sidebar in a descending order.

The functions of the similarity layer are selected from the red layer switch
The functions of the grading layer are selected from the blue layer switch. The functions are: 1) quick feedback with a drag-n-drop text field, 2) general feedback as text or voice message, and 3) feedback and grading matrices.
Select from the black layer switch whether the similarities and grading are displayed in the same view or separately.

The top bar displays the similarity match (e.g. 80/100) and users can move from one report to the next <->. From the buttons at the bottom of the right sidebar, users can download the text to their desktop and view the metadata of the document.

Turnitin Feedback Studio can be used for general originality checks of texts as well as for annotating and grading manuscripts and course work in many different ways. It also possible to comment on texts that include images. However, Turnitin does not check the originality of images.

Info corner top right in the Repport view.

Turnitin Feedback Studio can be used for general originality checks of texts as well as for annotating and grading manuscripts and course work in many different ways. It also possible to comment on texts that include images. However, Turnitin does not check the originality of images.

Interpreting the similarity report

The user instructions of the report are available at Turnitin.com:

In addition to the processing and interpretation instructions of the similarity report, the University's Ethical Guidelines and Guidelines for Misconduct and Fraud are applied: 

When viewing the report, please use Mozilla Firefox, Chrome or Safari as a browser. Internet Explorer does not function properly! On Moodle courses, Turnitin assignments can be recognised from the  "Turnitin icon" icon.

 

If you suspect misconduct or fraud

The University of Turku has joint guidelines and faculty-specific support persons for suspected cases of misconduct and fraud. In questions related to the use of the Turnitin system, the main users of Turnitin, Moodle, and UTUThesis provide instructions. The Research Integrity Advisors assist in questions related to evaluation. In the faculties, the investigators (usually the Head of Academic and Student Affairs) organise the necessary procedure and support the University’s staff and students in the process.

Guidelines for teachers

If you suspect that the checked text includes plagiarism, contact the author of the text first. Based on the Universities Act, students have the right to be heard but they do not have a binding obligation to give a statement concerning suspected misconduct. There might be a natural and acceptable explanation for a suspicious find in the similarity report. 

Suspected misconduct challenges the trust between teachers and students. The investigation process can be mentally stressful for both parties. It is recommended that the initial investigation takes place face to face so that the problematic parts of the text can be discussed in more detail and avoiding misinterpretations.

Processing minor cases is guided by the principle that the suspect is first being guided in using sources correctly and they are asked to correct the noticed shortcomings and mistakes. Academic writing skills and requirements for good scientific practice are learnt throughout the studying career. It is recognised that students can make mistakes without strict sanctioning.

Evaluating whether the mistakes are intentional or not is crucial, but it can be challenging. Target-oriented and serious attempted fraud is investigated according to the joint guidelines for misconduct and fraud of all faculties of the University of Turku, committing to good governance. Recurring studying misconduct or fraud is interpreted as severe and can lead to e.g. temporary suspension.

Suspected plagiarism cases concerning theses are always investigated as serious attempted misconducts in studying. Using the form, the teacher/supervisor notifies their faculty’s investigator of the suspicion. Based on the similarity report and other necessary documents and after having heard the different parties, the investigator prepares an investigation memorandum to the faculty’s dean. If necessary, the processing of the matter proceeds from the dean to the rector.

The University’s faculties report cases of misconduct in studying to a follow-up statistics two times a year. Annually, the Rector of the University reports the investigated violations of the responsible conduct of research to the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity.

Guidelines for students

If you are suspected of plagiarism, you always have the right to be heard based on the Universities Act. Discussing the matter openly will help the teacher to give the necessary revision instructions for the text. There might be an acceptable reason for suspicious similarities that you may disclose to the teacher, or, in a process concerning a thesis, directly to the faculty’s investigator.

Suspected misconduct challenges the trust between teachers and students. The investigation process can be mentally stressful for both parties. It is recommended that the investigation takes place face to face so that the problematic parts of the text can be discussed in more detail and avoiding misinterpretations. If necessary, a support person can be asked to join the investigation session, e.g. the Student Union’s Academic Affairs Specialist (tyy-koposihteeri@utu.fi). 

Guidelines for misconduct and fraud -> 6.1 student’s legal protection

When finalising your thesis and suspecting plagiarism in an important source you have used, tell about the observation to your teacher for instructions on how to proceed in the matter. Even a problematic source may be used if source criticism is properly implemented.

Guidelines for misconduct and fraud at the University of Turku

University’s Ethical Guidelines for Learning for teachers and students

Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity:Responsible conduct of research and handling alleged violations