Academic Integrity and Turnitin

Group of students in Lismore Library
screen shot of intro for academic integrity video

Welcome to Southern Cross University.

Starting university study is really exciting. There are a lot of new ideas, people, traditions and expectations to learn about, while also fitting study into your life.

When joining a new community it can be hard to know what is expected and how to do the right thing. But everyone at SCU wants to welcome new students, and help set you up for study success. Most new students experience waves of excitement, moments of challenge, and have lots of questions. For example, students know that academic integrity is important, and want to do the ‘right thing’ and follow the rules. At the same time, academic integrity can be a confusing idea at first, and most new students are not sure what they need to do to practise Academic Integrity.

As a new student, you may not realise if you have breached academic integrity, and that there can be serious penalties. At Southern Cross University, success as a student depends, in many ways, on your Academic Integrity, particularly when completing assessments It involves being honest about what is your work, what is influenced by other people's work and what is directly borrowed from someone else.

The rules and practices of academic integrity at SCU could be very different to the ones you know from previous studies and workplaces. So, it is important you learn about what it means in the SCU context.

At SCU, we want to help set you up for study success. We understand that new students need to be given opportunities to learn about academic integrity This is why at SCU we give new students, in their first study session, the opportunity to learn how to practise academic integrity. You will find lots of academic integrity support, including in-class and online activities, assessment feedback, Learning Zone resources and options to talk with the Learning Coaches.

We have developed an Academic Integrity Module to help you understand the rules and expectations and how to practise integrity in your academic work. But ultimately, you are responsible for the academic integrity in your work. You will also need to continue to be honest and ensure that you do the right thing when submitting your assessments. As you study, keep developing your toolbox of assessment skills. Practising academic integrity is important.

These integrity skills will set you up for success at university, and in your future professional role.

Make sure you use your first study session to access academic integrity support, talk to your teachers and other students, ask questions, act on feedback, and develop your toolbox of skills.

So, let’s get started!

Academic Integrity means behaving with the values of honesty, fairness and respect in an academic setting. The main place students practise academic integrity is assignments and exams. You do this by submitting your own work for assessment.

All Southern Cross University commencing students must complete a Mandatory Academic Integrity Module in their first study period or session. We strongly recommend that you complete this module as soon as possible or at the latest by week 2. It is something that you can get out of the way before you commence classes, so why not work your way through this now?

It typically takes students around 1 to 2 hours to complete.

Complete the module

On this page

Turnitin

Students at Southern Cross University are asked to submit their assignments for similarity checking using Turnitin. Accessed via unit Blackboard sites, Turnitin is a web-based text-matching system that compares your submission to sources held in its repository. The Turnitin repository is updated every day and contains:

  • student papers submitted at Southern Cross University and universities around the world that use Turnitin
  • internet pages
  • online books
  • journal articles
  • conference papers.

Turnitin cannot detect plagiarism. Instead, it detects ‘matched-text’, or text your submission shares with sources held in its repository. Even so, the Similarity Report contains useful information about your writing, and is a great editing tool.

Using generative AI tools such as ChatGPT

What are generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools?

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) tools are a type of artificial intelligence that creates content such as text, images or music. ChatGPT is an example of a GenAI tool. GenAI tools use information that is freely available online to predict patterns and structure.

For text, GenAI tools statistically predict a likely sequence of words. In the case of ChatGPT, it is remarkably successful in writing seemingly credible text in response to user prompts. Remember though that ChatGPT cannot understand what it is writing and so, although the text might be grammatically correct, it is not factually checked and could be wrong.

Similarly, GenAI tools can also create content in other formats such as images or musical scores. These types of GenAI tools are often used in creative applications, such as video game development, music composition, and graphic design.

While GenAI has tremendous potential, it also raises concerns about the possibility of creating content that is misleading or harmful. Text created by GenAI tools can also have inherent biases or limitations because they reflect the sources which they are trained on.

GenAI tools do not identify the sources used to generate content. Even if you request references to be included, these will be programmatically generated by the same predictive process as any other text.

Can I use AI tools in my studies at SCU?

The development of your communication and critical thinking skills are amongst the most important things you will learn from your studies at SCU. Although the use of GenAI tools may seem like they make your assessment easier, it is essential that you engage with your unit content and information you gather from beyond to develop these important skills.

At SCU the use of GenAI tools is acceptable unless it is beyond the acceptable limit as defined in the Assessment Item by the Unit Assessor.

For each Assessment item, your Unit Assessor will inform you in writing if the use of GenAI tools is explicitly prohibited. This information will appear in your Unit information, your assessment task, or via a Blackboard Announcement.

Consequences of using GenAI tools when explicitly prohibited by your Unit Assessor, or without acknowledgement

Using GenAI to assist with your writing or other assessment tasks when the use of GenAI tools has been explicitly prohibited (in writing for each Assessment item), or without acknowledgment, may be considered a breach of academic integrity, and result in an academic integrity breach with penalties as described in the Student Academic and Non-Academic Misconduct Rules, Section 3.

Can I use GenAI in my assessment - a flowchart for students

What you need to do

If you do use a GenAI tool in your assessment, it is essential you acknowledge this use as part of your commitment to academic integrity at SCU. Consult the Acknowledging and Referencing GenAI Use Quick Guide for more information.

Consult your Library guide for the referencing style for your units of study (see links below), and discuss with your Unit Assessor if you are not sure about how, or how much you can use GenAI in your studies.

If your Unit Assessor has informed you that you can use AI tools in your studies, follow the PAIR Framework resource to guide you in using and acknowledging GenAI tools:

Advice

Markers do check Similarity Reports while grading assignments. However, at SCU the focus is on students using Turnitin as an editing tool, to improve how they have used sources in their writing before the marker sees their work. This means:

  • submitting a good draft for similarity checking so the report contains useful information
  • systemically checking every highlighted section in the report where you have used sources
  • editing and fixing any problematic sections then re-submitting your assignment for grading.

Using the Similarity Report as an editing tool can help you to use sources effectively, practice academic integrity, and avoid losing ‘easy marks’.

While studying at SCU it is likely you will be asked to submit your work for similarity checking using Turnitin.
Turnitin is located on your unit Blackboard sites.

To submit work to Turnitin:

  1. Log onto MySCU and onto the relevant unit Blackboard learning site.
  2. Once on your unit site scroll down the left side of the screen until you see the ‘Assessment’ heading. Click on the button titled ‘Assessment and Task Submission’. You should find the Turnitin drop-box in this area.
    One this screen click on the ‘View/Complete’ link for the relevant Turnitin drop-box.
  3. One the next screen, the first two fields will be filled in with your first and second name. You need to fill in the next field ‘Submission Title’. The title will only show on the Similarity Report.
  4. Scroll down the screen and you will see the Originality Declaration. Carefully read this section. By submitting your work through the drop box you are declaring that you have read and understood SCU policy about academic misconduct, and that you are submitting ‘entirely your own work’.
    Submitting your own work means drawing upon credible, current sources to generate your own answer to the question, argument, or solution.
    It also means:
    • You have put in the effort expected
    • You have mainly put sources into your own words (paraphrased)
    • If you have used quotes they are correctly formatted and referenced
    • You clearly show where your work ends and others’ work begins (usually via referencing).
  5. Keep scrolling down the page and you will see the function buttons that allow you to upload a file. The ‘Choose from this Computer’ option is most resilient whether you are on campus or at home. Click on this button.
    A pop will appear that lets you see your computer. Click on the area where your file is located (e.g. a USB, in Documents or Desktop). Then click the relevant folder or file, then the ‘open’ button at the bottom right corner of your screen.
    Click on the big blue ‘Upload’ button at the bottom left corner of the screen.
  6. An icon will appear that shows a circle of dots and a message letting you know Turnitin is processing your submission.
  7. The next screen gives you a chance to confirm you have uploaded the right file. Click on the ‘Confirm’ button at the bottom left corner of the screen.
  8. A big green banner across the top of the next screen saying ‘Congratulations- your submission is complete!’ Once you see this banner you know the process of submitting your work for similarity checking was successful, and the process is complete.
  9. To immediately access the Similarity Report scroll down the screen and click on the blue ‘Return to assignment list’ button at the bottom left of the screen.
    This will take you back to the Class Home Page where your Similarity Report will show as a percentage and coloured icon. It will take 2-5 minutes for the report to be available the first 3 times you submit through the drop box, and up to 24hours for any subsequent submissions.
    Click on either the percentage of coloured icon to open your Similarity Report in the online browser.

Videos - How to use Turnitin

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As a student at Southern Cross University you will be are asked to submit assignments for similarity checking, usually using Turnitin.

It is important to know that your marker will look at Turnitin. They will check the Similarity Report while grading your assignment.

But at SCU Turnitin is mainly a student tool. It is there for you, and is a great editing tool. Students use the Similarity Report to improve their writing, and make sure they are using sources correctly.

To be able to use Turnitin as an editing tool you do need to know  little bit about how it works. Turnitin is a text-matching software. This means Turnitin:

  • compares your work to sources held in its repository
  • identifies text, or strings of words, in your submission that match sources held in its repository
  • generates a summary of all the matched text in your submission. This is called a Similarity Report.

When you open up your Similarity Report you will see a number of highlighted sections (on the left side of the report where your submissions is displayed). It is your job, when opening the report, to focus all your attention on double-checking every highlighted section. Just check whether you have used the source correctly or not:

  • if you have used sources correctly ignore that section and move onto the next highlighted section
  • if you find issues you can fix them and resubmit your work.

Only worry about checking highlighted sections where you have used sources. The cover sheet, for example, will show as highlighted text. You have not used sources in the cover sheet though. So ignore that section and move on to check this section of your report.

 

Turnitin is a fantastic editing tool that can help you find and fix issues before the marker you’re your work. Closely checking highlighted sections can help you see your work with fresh eyes during the editing phase, particularly the way you have used quotes, referencing and paraphrasing.

Pro-actively using the Similarity Report as an editing tool can help you improve your writing, avoid losing ‘easy marks’, and practice academic integrity.

You will find Turnitin on your unit Blackboard sites:

  • log onto MySCU to access your online unit site
  • You will know it is the Turnitin drop box because you will see the ‘View/Complete’ link. Click on this link to start the process of submitting work for similarity checking.

-Once on the unit site you will see the navigation buttons on the left side of the screen. Scroll down until you see the bold heading ‘Assessment’. Click on the button underneath this heading titled ‘Assessment Tasks and Submission’. Turnitin drop boxes are usually located in the area. If you can’t find the drop box, look in other areas under the ‘Assessment’ heading, or contact your Unit Assessor. Usually the Turnitin drop boxes are opened 2 weeks from assignment due date.

You can keep re-submitting your work through the Turnitin drop-box up until assignment due date. The marker will only see the final Similarity Report, and final submission. They will not know how many times you submitted work to the drop box.

The first three times you submit work to the Turnitin drop box your report will be ready in 2-5 minutes. Most students submit twice. They submit a ‘good’ version of their work and use the report to check their use of sources. They then submit again and leave this improved version for their tutor to grade.

The key is to use Turnitin as an editing tool, to improve your use of paraphrases, quotes and referencing. Doing this will help you develop academic writing skills, practice academic integrity, and avoid losing ‘easy marks’.

An introduction to Turnitin at SCU

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Turnitin is located on your unit Blackboard site. This means you need to:

  • Log onto the SCU website, then onto MySCU, to log onto your unit site.
  • Once on your unit site scroll down the left side of the screen until you see the ‘Assessment’ heading.
  • Click on the button titled ‘Assessment and Task Submission’. You should find the Turnitin drop-box in this area.
  • Look for the ‘View/Complete’ link. This indicates it is a Turnitin drop box.
  • Start the process of checking your work by clicking on the ‘View/Complete’ link.

The idea is that you submit a ‘good version’ of your work and use the Similarity Report to check paraphrases, quotes, and referencing. Then submit the improved version for grading.

You can keep re-submitting to this drop-box as many times as you like up to assessment due date. The marker will only see your final submission and final Similarity Report. They will not know how many times you have used the drop box.

  • Click on the ‘View/Complete’ link and you will be taken through to the Class Home Page. The important feature of this page is the big blue ‘Submit’ button located on the right side of the screen. Click this button to start the process.
  • The first two fields on the next page will be filled in for you. Turnitin recognises you (because you have logged onto MySCU) and fills in your first and second names. The next field, ‘Submission title’ is mandatory. You need to fill it in. Most students note the assignment name (e.g. Assignment 1). The title is only visible on the report.
  • Scroll down the screen and you will see the Originality Declaration. Carefully read this section. By submitting your work through the drop box you are declaring that you have read and understood SCU policy about academic misconduct, and that you are submitting ‘entirely your own work’.

This does not mean you are only drawing upon your own ideas. Submitting your own work means drawing upon credible, current sources to generate your own answer to the question, argument, or solution.

It also means:

  • You have put in the effort expected
  • You have mainly put sources into your own words (paraphrased)
  • If you have used quotes they are correctly formatted and referenced
  • You clearly show where your work ends and others’ work begins (usually via referencing).
  • Keep scrolling down the page and you will see the function buttons that allow you to upload a file. The ‘Choose from this computer’ option is most resilient whether you are on campus or at home. I will show you how to use this option.
  • Click on this button. A pop will appear that lets you see your computer. Click on the area where your file is located (e.g. a USB, in Documents or Desktop). Then click the folder or file and click on the ‘open’ button at the bottom right corner of your screen.
  • Turnitin will show the file name on the screen. If you have selected the wrong file by mistake, click on ‘Clear file’ or ‘Cancel’ button. If it is the correct file, click on the big blue ‘Upload’ button at the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • An icon will appear that shows a circle of dots and a message letting you know Turnitin is processing your submission.
  • The next screen asks you to confirm that you have submitted the right file. Click the ‘Cancel’ button or ‘Confirm’ button at the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • Turnitin will show a big green banner across the top of the next screen when the submission process is finished. Always look for this banner. It says ‘Congratulations- your submission is complete!’.
  • Scroll down and you will see a big blue button at the bottom left corner of the screen ‘Return to assignment list’. Click on this button to go back to the Class Home Page.
  • Once your Similarity Report has been processed it will be visible on the Class Home Page under the ‘Similarity’ heading. Look for the percentage and coloured icon. Click on the percentage to open up your report in the online browser.

How to submit assignments to Turnitin

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Turnitin can help you improve your academic writing skills. None of us are born knowing how to write assignments at university. However, Turnitin can help you improve how you use sources in your writing, especially paraphrases, quotes, and referencing. This clip offers 5 tips that will help you to use Turnitin to your advantage.

Tips 1-5

  1. Submit a ‘good’ version of your work for originality checking. This means an edited version, almost ready to go to the marker. If you do this the report will contain useful information about your writing.
  2. Use the Similarity Report as your final editing phase. Check sources are used correctly.
  3. Allow enough editing time. Double estimated editing time and slot into your study schedule. Editing phases will help to polish your work to best advantage, and get the grades you deserve.
  4. When you open the Similarity Report, focus your attention on systemically checking every highlighted section where you have used sources. Use a process of elimination. If you have submitted a ‘good version’ of your work there will only be a few highlighted sections that need editing.
  5. Use the close view pop up function in the Similarity Report. Click on the number next to each highlighted section and a pop up will appear showing the section from the match-source from the Turnitin repository.

Compare the highlighted section of your work to the close view pop up. Doing this will help you to decide is the section needs editing.

The close view pop up will also match to student papers submitted at SCU, or other universities around the world. This does not necessarily mean you have used the student paper your work matches to. Your marker understand this. However, a match to a student paper should still be a prompt to go back to the source you did use to write the highlighted section. Make sure you used the source correctly.

The great thing about Turnitin is that it allows you to edit and improve your work BEFORE the marker sees the assignment. Pro-actively using the Similarity Report as an editing tool can help you to add credibility to your writing and avoid losing ‘easy marks’

Five tips for using Turnitin

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Turnitin does not detect plagiarism

Turnitin is not a plagiarism detection tool. It is a text-matching software. Understanding how Turnitin works will help you avoid study stress and use this software to your advantage.

Turnitin is a text-matching software:

  • It compares your work to sources held in its repository (and the repository is updated every day and contains student papers from SCU and other universities around the world that use Turnitin, internet pages, online books, online journals, conference papers and so on)
  • It identifies text (or strings of words) in your submission that match sources held in its repository
  • Then it generates a summary of all the matched-text it identifies. That summary is called the Similarity Report (or sometimes it is called an Originality Report).

The Similarity Report:

  • Highlights, colour codes and numbers sections of matched-text it finds in your submission
  • The colour coding and numbering is to show you the sources in its repository that share matched text with your submission.
  • If you look at highlighted sections in your report you will see the colours and numbers correspond with sources listed in the ‘Match Overview’.
  • Your marker understands that sources listed in the Match Overview share text with your submission, but that does not necessarily mean you used the sources when writing your assignment.

However, highlighting, colour-coding, and numbering sections of matched-text is the most Turnitin can do.

Turnitin cannot make any judgements about the nature of the matched-text. This means:

  • Turnitin does not have the capacity to judge whether you have referenced correctly and consistently
  • Turnitin cannot tell whether quotes and paraphrases are properly used in your work
  • We, as students and teachers, need to interpret the Similarity Report ourselves, and double-check sources have been used correctly.

By highlighting matched-text in your submission Turnitin helps you to double-check you have used paraphrases, quotes, and referencing correctly. This means Turnitin is a really useful learning tool, especially for new students. Because Turnitin cannot detect plagiarism, we need to do this for ourselves, using the Similarity Report as a tool.

Turnitin cannot detect plagiarism

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Understanding the Similarity Score

Understanding what the Similarity Score means will help you avoid study stress, and use to Turnitin to your advantage.

You will see the Similarity Score in two places:

  1. On your class home page
  2. On the Similarity Report

The Similarity Score is NOT an indication of whether your work is plagiarised or free of plagiarism. Turnitin cannot detect plagiarism.

The Similarity Score tells you how much of your submission matches sources held in the Turnitin repository.

The Similarity Score is easily pushed up by factors such as:

  • Digital assignment cover sheet (between 5%-25% depending on assignment length)
  • Properly referenced and formatted direct quotes
  • Disciplinary language (specialist terms, concepts, and tool/model names taught in your unit that you need to use in the assignment)
  • When you submit your work (the later you submit the higher the score because there are more assignments for your work to match to).

Also, the Similarity Score does not tell you anything about the nature of the matched-text in your assignment. That is, it can’t tell you whether the matched text is a problem and needs fixing, or not.

For example, your assignment might have a Similarity Score of 35% and

  1. There is no problem because the matched-text is made up the digital assignment cover sheet, properly referenced direct quotes, and your list of references.
  2. There is a significant problem because the matched-text is made up chunks of copied text and poor paraphrases that are too close to the original wording.

The Similarity Score of 35% does not tell you anything about the nature of the matched-text, or whether you need to edit and improve your use of sources.

This means:

  1. It is good to note the Similarity Score but try not focus too much on this percentage.
  2. Instead, you need to check the nature of matched-text in your report. Do this by checking every highlighted section in the report where you have used sources. Make sure paraphrases, quotes and referencing are used correctly.

Avoid study stress about the Similarity Score. Remember there is no ‘magic’ or ‘safe’ score that says your work is free of plagiarism because the Similarity Score does not measure plagiarism. Focus on checking the nature of matched-text in your report, and edit your work so that you use sources correctly. 

Understand your Turnitin similarity score

Professor Robin Stonecash

I’m here to talk about academic integrity today. This is an important subject for everybody in the university. It’s important for students, it’s important for the academics who teach you, and it’s important for me as the Executive Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Arts because we rely on our reputation. And believe it or not academic integrity is part of our reputation. If we don’t show that we’re doing the right thing by the students and that we’re ensuring that they actually learn and know what we say they learn and know then we’re really not giving you anything that’s worth very much value. And employers won’t want to employ you and your fellow students won’t know that you’ve done the work that you say you have done unless we engage in good academic practice. And that is what academic integrity is all about.

So how does a student avoid academic misconduct for example? Well you can do your own work. You can ask others for help but make sure you put it into your own words. If you quote from a source whether it be on the internet or a video clip that you pick up off of the internet, or whether it’s taking some words that are from another paper make sure that you reference it. And by referencing it what I mean is giving the author’s name, the date, the source of where you found the publication, and make sure that you put that into your paper.

And why is it so important? As I said it’s really important because we need to know that you actually know what you say you know. And we can’t mark you on it otherwise. There are very, very serious consequences to academic misconduct. If you engage in academic misconduct you may fail your subject, you most certainly will fail that assignment that you engaged in academic misconduct on, and if you fail the subject, the unit, you may very well get excluded from the university. So it’s a serious matter.

So I’d really like you to consider the next time you do an assignment ask yourself is all of this my work? Can I acknowledge the sources that I used to help me write this assignment? Have I acknowledged if I have worked with another student on an assignment for example? Make sure that it is your own work because academic integrity is all about owning what it is that you’ve done. And it’s really important to us at the university and it’s important to you.

Professor Robin Stonecash, Former Executive Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Arts, talks about the importance of academic integrity

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