An introduction to Turnitin at SCU

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’.

Five Tips for using Turnitin

5 Tips for Using Turnitin

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’

Understand your Turnitin similarity score

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.