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Turnitin Web-Based Student Help Guide: What is Turnitin?


Quick Notes

1. Turnitin is text-matching software.
2. Turnitin helps students to demonstrate academic integrity in their work.
3. Turnitin does not detect plagiarism.
4. A student's work might be stored (anonymously) in a repository and compared against other students' work in the future.

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a text-matching software that compares the originality of a student’s written work against electronic texts from the Internet, published works (such as journal articles and books), and assignments previously submitted to Turnitin by other students, including past and present WITT students.

It is important to note that Turnitin does not detect plagiarism. This is because Turnitin cannot make a judgement about whether plagiarism has occurred, it can only tell you whether a particular piece of text matches text from another source. The tutor in charge of the subject will decide whether the text that has been identified as matching constitutes plagiarism.

Why does WITT use Turnitin?

At the heart of the matter, it is about academic integrity. Academic integrity in your learning requires you to treat others with respect, honesty and fairness.  You show academic integrity in your work by acknowledging other people’s ideas. 


Maintaining academic integrity includes the following:


  • Creating original work to submit


  • Acknowledging other people’s ideas in your work (referencing)


  • Not presenting someone else’s work as your own (plagiarism)


  • Working independently (unless you are required to submit team work)


  • Honesty in exams



Academic integrity is the cornerstone of your success as a student. Learning how to express original ideas, cite sources and work independently, are skills will be with you long after you leave your formal study.  If you have not been academically honest with your work, you could be penalised under the student code of conduct.  You could fail your assignment or your course.  The Learning Centre can help you develop the skills to avoid plagiarism.  You can also download the plagiarism handout that contains useful tips to prevent plagiarism.


Turnitin is designed to educate students to use appropriate referencing techniques. WITT uses Turnitin as a teaching tool to help students develop a range of skills such as critical thinking, paraphrasing and summarising, and citing and referencing. In particular, Turnitin helps students to demonstrate academic integrity (link opens in new window) in their work by teaching them how to use, generate and communicate information in an original, honest, and responsible manner.

What happens when you use Turnitin?

When assignments are submitted to Turnitin an Originality Report will be created. This indicates any text that matches to Turnitin’s database. The report also gives an indication of the overall proportion of matching text within an assignment, (the “similarity index”). More information about reading and understanding the originality report can be found under the originality report tab.

When submitted, your work will be stored in Turnitin’s repository for comparison against future student submissions.  When entered into the repository, your work will be anonymous (unless you have included personal information within the submitted document), and will only be available to your tutors. On rare occasions, other staff (at WITT or other institutions) can request a copy of your Turnitin report if another student’s work matches your submission, but access will only be granted if your tutor agrees.


The information in this guide has been adapted (with permission) from the Monash University Library guide to Turnitin