University of Birmingham



Turnitin is an online plagiarism detection system, which can be used to scan assignment submissions within your WebCT sections. Students' submissions are automatically checked against all visible internet pages, journals, periodicals etc. as well as Turnitin's own archive of student essays. A detailed report is generated for each submission, showing the percentage that is thought to have been copied and the suspected sources.

Using Turnitin

The Turnitin tool can be used as an alternative to WebCT's own assignment tool, as it allows you to create assignments in the same way but with the added advantage of being able to check the submissions for plagiarism. If you already have submissions that you have received via WebCT or another source, and you would like to check them for plagiarism, it is also possible to submit them directly to the Turnitin website without the need for a Turnitin assignment within your section. In order to do this, you will need a login for the Turnitin site. For more details, contact Shelley Evans in the Academic Office.

If you are going to use Turnitin to check your students' submissions, then it is good practice to warn your students of this in advance and, as their work will be kept in Turnitin's database, to get their permission to do this. The University recommends that you display a warning next to each assignment, or somewhere prominent in each WebCT section that contains a Turnitin assignment. The following text is a suggested warning notice that could be included in your WebCT sections:

All work submitted for this assignment will be scanned automatically by the Turnitin web-search plagiarism detection system. Please be assured that if this detects any potential plagiarism issues, we will discuss these fully with you prior to deciding what action, if any, to take.

Creating an assignment
  • Change to the Build tab and, from the Add Content Link menu, select TurnitinUK Assignment and then click Create TurnitinUK Assignment.
  • Enter a title for your assignment then click Create Turnitin Assignment.
  • On the assignment type screen (shown below), choose Paper Assignment and click Next Step. (Revision assignments are duplicates of an existing assignment with the same basic settings, but may have new start, due and post dates. PeerMark assignments are based on existing assignments where the due date has already passed, and students are asked to produce feedback on another student's work, assigned to them at random.)

Select assignment

  • The new assignment screen appears:

New assignment

  • Enter the assignment title and point value in the appropriate boxes and then specify the start, due and post dates for the assignment. (The due date is the deadline by which the students should submit their work. The post date is the date on which grades and feedback will be revealed to students.)
  • Under more options you can enter instructions for your students. If you plan to download all of the submissions to mark offline, there may not be an obvious way of identifying which file belongs to which student, so it is a good idea to remind them to include their name or ID number in any files they submit.

More options

  • Set the Generate Originality Reports for submissions option to 'Yes' if you want to view reports on your students’ submissions.
  • Generate Originality Reports for student submissions allows you to specify whether to create the report on a submission as soon as the file is submitted, or wait until the due date has passed and create all the reports together. If the report is created immediately, you can also specify whether the report can be changed if the student submits a new file before the due date. You can specify whether a student can see the report on their own submission or if this is just visible to the tutor, and also whether students can submit files after the due date has passed.
  • You can select the option to Enable anonymous marking if you wish to grade students' submissions without their names being revealed to you. If anonymous marking is enabled for an assignment, when viewing student submissions in the assignment inbox, you will see the words Anonymous Marking Enabled next to each submission in place of the student's name. All student names will be revealed to the instructor after the post date has passed.
  • You can specify whether to submit the students' work to Turnitin’s standard repository of submissions. If this option is chosen then a permanent record will be kept of your students' submissions and Turnitin should detect if they allow someone to copy from their work at a later date.
  • You can specify whether to check for plagiarism based on Turnitin’s database of submissions; all internet pages; online periodicals, journals etc. or all three.
  • When you have specified all the settings, click the Submit button. A link to the new assignment will be added to your section.

Note that if you want to check how your assignment looks to your students, you will need to log in with a student account. If you change to the Student View tab, as you would to test other WebCT tools, Turnitin will detect your real username so you will still see the instructor’s view of the assignment.

Submitting work as a student

When a student views a Turnitin assignment, they are faced with the following screen:

Student view

Expand this assignment or Show details will display the instructions.

The process for students is two-step. When clicking Submit, the upload screen appears:

Upload screen

The student has the choice of either a cut and paste or single file upload. If they choose cut and paste, they will be presented with a text box into which they can paste their work. If they choose single file, they can browse their local disk for the file to be uploaded. Files must be less than 20 MB and the following file types are accepted: Word; WordPerfect; Text; Postscript; PDF; HTML; RTF. The student should also enter a title for the submission. Clicking upload previews the paper to be submitted.

Submit screen

Important: The submission process is only completed once the student has clicked submit, even though a file has already been uploaded.

Once the student has submitted an assignment, a receipt is displayed on the screen, along with the contents of the document and a paper ID number:


If the email tool is enabled in the WebCT section, the student will also receive the receipt in their inbox.

Viewing submissions and reports
  • Change to the Teach tab and click the icon of the assignment you want to view. The list of submissions appears:

  • Submissions

  • To view an individual submission, click the title of the submission in the Title column. The student's work will be displayed in a new window.
  • To download one or more submissions, tick the checkbox next to each submission you want to download then click the Download button that appears above the submission listing when one or more of these checkboxes is ticked. Turnitin will create a zip file containing the files you have selected.
  • To allocate a grade to a submission, click the title of the submission to open it then click in the "Grade -- " box in the top-right corner and enter a mark. This mark will also be written to the WebCT Grade Book.
  • Grade

  • The Report column contains an icon for each submission with a percentage rating showing how much of it was thought to have been copied: 0% means it is completely original; 100% means it has all been copied. Clicking the icon for an individual submission will open the report for that submission, showing the suspected sources of plagiarism.
  • At first, the assignment inbox may only show the names of students who have submitted a piece of work. Clicking the Roster Sync link will populate the list with the names of all students enrolled on the WebCT section. Those who have not yet submitted will have the label No Submission next to their names.