Plagiarism and Turnitin

Plagiarism is the term used commonly across the University for all forms of cheating in assessment, including the copying of other students’ work, inappropriate collaboration etc.  The process for investigating plagiarism cases is Faculty-based and each Faculty has a number of Academic Conduct Officers (ACOs), usually one per Department, who have two main roles:

a)     to consider cases of alleged academic misconduct and either (i) determine if any academic and/or disciplinary penalties should be imposed, or (ii)  in extremely serious cases, that may involve a student being excluded from the university, refer the case to an Academic Conduct Panel (ACP) for a decision;

b)     to meet students accused of plagiarism or other forms of cheating and, in addition to discussing the alleged cheating offence, to help advise them how to improve their work, particularly in cases where students have not properly understood how to reference sources used, and also to help advise staff on how to detect and deter plagiarism.

Turnitin is an on-line service that checks if a text-based piece of coursework contains sections that are identical to work previously published elsewhere or posted on the internet or submitted by other students. However,

  • not all overlaps found by Turnitin are necessarily plagiarised;
  • work may be plagiarised even if Turnitin does not find any overlaps;
  • embedded pictures, tables and non-text objects and any textual content within such items cannot be compared or matched by Turnitin.

Nevertheless, it is still a very useful tool to help detect if plagiarism may be present. Turnitin can also be used for on-line marking of coursework, and this is now the expected norm in some subject areas. If you identify a possible case of plagiarism when marking, please contact your Academic Conduct Officer for advice.