Turnitin FAQs for students and staff

 FAQs for students

What is Turnitin?

To help you improve your knowledge of academic citation and referencing and to educate you to avoid plagiarism, UHI uses an originality checker, Turnitin. Turnitin is an online service that helps checks your work for material that may have been included from other sources. It checks your work against:

  • content (both current and archived) on the Internet (several billion URLs)
  • purchased essays
  • a database of other students’ work previously submitted to Turnitin (from thousands of institutions in over 80 countries)
  • millions of articles from over 500 publishers and
  • copyright free material such as material from Project Gutenburg.

Turnitin doesn’t make any judgement about plagiarism or improperly used material, it simply identifies matching text. It does this for all matching text, including correctly cited and referenced quotes. Turnitin then produces an originality report and assigns a score. There is no right or wrong score – the tutors on your course will let you know what they expect in your work. A high score does not necessarily indicate plagiarism. While it may indicate cutting and pasting from other sources, it may also indicate the use of established scientific and technical phrases (which is to be expected) and/or overuse of direct quotes (note: you should avoid overuse of direct quotes as it is considered poor academic writing). The Turnitin score and/or feedback is only one piece of evidence about your writing ability. Staff will review and evaluate the score and/or feedback and ensure that the appropriate decision about performance and plagiarism is made. If you need help with academic writing, or if you are uncertain about what constitutes plagiarism, cheating or collusion, contact your tutor.

Note at UHI assignments are submitted to Turnitin from UHIs’ VLE, Brightspace.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism occurs when a writer uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original material without acknowledging their source. For more information see Referencing, plagiarism and academic misconduct  on UHI’s Essential student skills site. For information on how the University wants you to acknowledge your sources, see the “Cite and reference” section on the UHI Library “How to” site http://www.uhi.ac.uk/en/libraries/how-to.

How do I know if Turnitin is being used on my module(s)?

It is a condition of enrolment at the University of the Highlands and Islands that students accept that electronic originality checking software may be used to check their work. Please note that not all courses use Turnitin – you will be informed if your module or unit uses Turnitin. If in doubt, please consult your tutor.

Can I object to my work being stored in the Turnitin system?

If you are objecting on the grounds of copyright, if a copy of your work was legitimately submitted to Turnitin by staff involved in your course, then you do not have the right to object to your work being submitted to Turnitin.

Can I object to my details being stored in the Turnitin system?

When your work is submitted to Turnitin it may include the following personal details: your name, e-mail address, course details and name of the Institution. This is stored in Turnitin’s database in the United States. For more information see Turnitin's Privacy Centre.

If my work is submitted to Turnitin, who owns the copyright?

Turnitin is part of iParadigms. iParadigms has no interest in acquiring the intellectual property rights for your submitted work. The copyright of your submitted work will continue to reside with either yourself or the University; whichever is currently the case. For more information on copyright, please contact your tutor.

What happens if I am wrongly accused of plagiarism?

Turnitin doesn’t make any judgement about plagiarism, it simply identifies matching text. The decision as to whether plagiarism has taken place will be made by your tutor or another appropriate person at the University. In the first instance you should consult your tutor.

Where can I get help on using Turnitin?

There are manuals and videos for students on UHI's Turnitin training for students site. Your tutor will tell you how they will use Turnitin and will direct you to the appropriate support information. Please note that at UHI assignments are submitted to Turnitin from UHIs’ VLE, Blackboard.

  • If you are having problems with Turnitin please check Turnitin's system status.
  • If it is not a know issue, please contact the UHI Servicedesk E-mail: UHI Servicedesk Tel. 150 (internal) / 01463 279 150 (external).

What types of files does Turnitin accept / read?

To submit a paper to Turnitin, your paper must meet Turnitin's requirements. If an assignment is set to "Allow Any File Type," Turnitin will accept any file that is less than 40 MB and less than 400 pages in length. If the assignment is set to "Allow only file types that Turnitin can check for originality," only files that can generate Originality Reports will be allowed to be submitted to the assignment.

Turnitin will currently accept the following file types to generate Originality Reports:

  • Microsoft Word® (.doc / .docx)1
  • OpenOffice Text (.odt)2
  • Google Docs via Google Drive™ (.gdoc files are NOT acceptable)3
  • WordPerfect® (.wpd)
  • PostScript (.ps/.eps)
  • Adobe® PDF4
  • Microsoft PowerPoint® (.pptx, .ppt, .ppsx, and .pps)5
  • Microsoft Excel® (.xls and .xlsx)6
  • HTML
  • Rich text format (.rtf)
  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Hangul Word Processor file (.hwp)

Your assignment must contain a minimum of 25 words, must be under 40MB (or approximately two million characters), less than 400 pages in length, and must not contain spaces in between every letter (l i k e t h i s).

Please note that Turnitin does not support:

  • Microsoft® Works (.wps) file types.
  • Apple Pages file types.
  • Spreadsheets created outside of Microsoft Excel (i.e. .ods).
  • GDOC*** files (.gdoc) which are just links to online Google Document files, but don't actually contain text or the document's content. Google Drive must be used to upload Google Docs.

Therefore, if you are using an unsupported word processor, you may need to save the file as a .txt or .rtf file in order to upload to Turnitin.

If submitting with Google Drive™ online storage service, third party cookies must be allowed in your browser, or attempts to sign into Google to upload from Google Drive will fail.Note that Google Drive functionality is not supported with IE8 or below.

1Note - Microsoft Word: Turnitin does not accept Microsoft Word 2007 macros-enabled (.docm) files (Turnitin does accept the standard .docx files). Whatever macro is encoded in the file is stripped away when submitted to Turnitin. For example, when using a "letter replacement macro," Turnitin strips the macro from the Wordfile, and whatever characters you originally had in the file will appear (i.e. "a~"). Also, Turnitin does not accept password protected files.

2Note - Open Office Text: Turnitin will not accept .odt files created and downloaded from Google Docs online. Turnitin will not accept ".doc" files created using OpenOffice since OpenOffice ".doc" files are not 100% Microsoft Word equivalent.

3Note - Google Docs: GDOC files (*.gdoc) which are just links to online Google Document files, but don't actually contain text or the document's content are not supported. Google Drive must be used to upload Google Docs.

4Note - Adobe® PDF: Turnitin will not accept PDF image files, forms, or portfolios. PDF files which do not contain highlightable text (e.g., a "scanned" file, which is often simply a picture of text) are unacceptable. PDF portfolio documents containing multiple files are not supported.

5Note - Microsoft PowerPoint: It is possible to submit PowerPoint files through Turnitin.com, TurnitinUK.com, Turnitin Basic integrations, newer versions of the Turnitin Direct integrations, and LTI compliant integrations only. It not possible to submit PowerPoint files using other non-LTI compliant integrations. Turnitin converts the PowerPoint slide deck into a static PDF, leaving all text and images in their original format but leaving out features such as presenter notes, embedded video, and animations. Text with visual effects is not supported, and it is recommended that any visual effects such as shadows and 3-D be removed prior to submitting to Turnitin.

6Note - Microsoft Excel: The version of the file that can be viewed in the Document Viewer will look the same as it would if the Excel file had been saved as a PDF and submitted to Turnitin. Turnitin highly recommends that you pay attention to the image preview provided in the single file submission to verify that the file is presented in an acceptable manner. You can adjust the way the file looks by editing the page setup and print area settings for the file prior to saving it and submitting it to Turnitin.

Files uploaded to Turnitin must have correctly matching file extensions. For example, if you save a document as a Word file, it must have a Word extension (.doc or .docx). Turnitin will automatically reject files with mis-matched extensions (e.g., a .doc Word file manually edited to a .rtf extension without using the "Save As" feature). If you are experiencing a file format issue, please re-open the file in a word processor, and save the file again using the "save as" function and choosing a different format from the file type pull down menu (try .rtf or .txt as they are the most "safe").

If you have a firewall enabled (such as those included with many Antivirus programs like McAfee, Norton, and AVG) it may prevent you from uploading a paper to Turnitin successfully. If this is the case, please add the following as a “safe site” (i.e, Trusted Site or WhiteList) to your firewall and/or browser:





If you do not know how to do this, please contact the Servicedesk for the antivirus/firewall program in question for instructions. Also, you must use a supported internet browser in order to successfully submit a paper. Please update your internet browser to the latest supported version if you have any doubts about this.

If you continue to experience upload issues, you may try "disabling" all your browser's plugins/extensions and try uploading again. You can re-enable the plugins/extensions after your upload attempt. If issues persist, please provide your file to Turnitin Support so that we can take a look at the paper from our end. Also, please let us know the word processor and version you are using to write your paper.

As an alternative (please check with your tutor first to make sure this is acceptable), you could submit your paper by cut and paste:

  1. Select "cut and paste" using the pull-down on the paper submission page.
  2. Open your paper in a word processing program and highlight the paper's text either by using your mouse or by choosing "select all" in your program's edit menu.
  3. To copy the text of your paper, select "copy" from the edit menu.
  4. Place your mouse cursor in the text box of your browser. To paste the text into your browser, select "paste" from your browser's edit menu.
  5. Verify that all of your paper's text shows up in your browser. To submit your paper, click the "submit" button.

My deadline is at 23:30 (11:30 pm) - how late can I leave it to submit?

Submitting your work online a few minutes before the deadline is risky. It can take a few minutes for the system to 'register' your submission and it will 'stamp' your work late if this happens even a few seconds after the deadline. If you want to be safe and also check your work we recommend that you should submit it at least 24 hours before the deadline.

It says my file is too big to upload, what do I do?

This is probably because the image files in your document are too large. This tutorial will show you how to reduce the image sizes in MS Word.

If your file is a pdf file that is within the 40MB limit see the "I can't upload my pdf file" FAQ.

I can't upload my PDF file

To submit a paper to Turnitin, your paper must meet our requirements. If an assignment is set to "Allow Any File Type," Turnitin will accept any file that is less than 40 MB AND less than 400 pages in length.

If you upload a pdf file and get a message that your file is too big, even though it it within the 40MB limit, the‘Fast Web View’ setting may be the problem.

To disable Fast Web View:

  1. Open your pdf file in Adobe Reader
  2. Click on the Edit Menu
  3. Click Preferences
  4. Click Internet
  5. Uncheck "Allow fast web view"
  6. Click OK.

FAQs for staff

How do I get an Instructor Account?

Please note: before setting up a Turnitin assignment in Blackboard you must log a call with the Servicedesk to apply for a Turnitin ID.

To get an Instructor account please log a call with the Servicedesk: 150@uhi.ac.uk

How do I get help?

  • If you are having problems with Turnitin please check Turnitin's system status.
  • If the system is running check Turnitin's Known issues page.
  • If it is not a know issue, see Turnitin's Help Center and popular articles. This site provides information on common problems.
  • If you cannot find an answer to your problem please contact the UHI Servicedesk E-mail: UHI Servicedesk Tel. 150 (internal) / 01463 279 150 (external).

What do I do if I've forgotton my password?

  1. Open the Turnitin reset password page: https://www.turnitinuk.com/password_reset1.asp?lang=en_gb
  2. Complete the form.
  3. Instructions will be e-mailed to you.

What is the maximum Turnitin class size?

200 students.

May I use UHI's Turnitin for FE modules?

No, UHI only has a licence for HE. You may only use it for FE if your College has its own licence.

May I use Turnitin in a Cyber Cafe or other informal space in Brightspace?

No, Turnitin may only be used in spaces that have been set up by SITS using a current SITS code.

May I create a test course?

No, you may only create courses for official HE modules that are registered in SITS and in which students are enrolled.

Delete assignment from Turnitin's database

Turnitin can permanently delete a paper from their database so that it can no longer be used as a searchable source. For contractual reasons, all requests for paper deletions from our database must be submitted in writing by the UHI's Turnitin administrator. Please log a call with the Servicedesk including the paper ID number, class ID number, and assignment name. UHI Servicedesk E-mail: UHI Servicedesk Tel. 150 (internal) / 01463 279 150 (external)

NOTE: It is possible to create assignments which do not save submitted papers to the Turnitin database. The "no repository" option is a selection choice you have when creating new assignments.

Originality Report - Interpreting Results

The Originality Reports provide a summary of the matching text found in a submitted paper.  The percentage indicates the overall similarity index of the paper, based on how much matching text was found (as a percentage of the total text in the submission). A breakdown of the indexes with the color code is listed below:

0% (a valid result)--Blue icon
1-24%--Green icon
25-49%--Yellow icon
50-74%--Orange icon
75-100%--Red icon

Once you see the percentage icon, it means that the report has generated. If you click on the icon, the report will load for you.

Turnitin does not determine whether a paper has or has not been plagiarized.  Originality Reports are simply tools to help instructors locate potential sources of plagiarism, or text which may have been incorrectly cited.  Therefore, only instructors can deem what is a "good" or "bad" score, as interpretation of the data can only be made by the instructor.