Centre for Teaching Excellence

Teach | Academic Integrity

Introduction to Turnitin

Turnitin is an online software program that checks student work for similarities to existing online content.  A ‘match’ in a student’s submission indicates that a section of the paper directly matches text found in the resources checked by Turnitin.


How can Turnitin help me or help my students?
If Turnitin is used appropriately (relevant settings, including orientation for students, etc.), it can:  

  1. Improve students’ writing – students can see what plagiarism looks like and know what to avoid 
  2. Reduce the likelihood of accidental plagiarism – students can address their errors before the submission deadline   
  3. Increase your efficiency – provides an efficient way of identifying possible plagiarised content in a student’s submission for an Assignment, Forum or Workshop activity 
  4. Save you time – reduces the need to search for/google possible content matches  

To achieve these benefits, CapU encourages faculty to allow students to view the Similarity Report prior to the date of submission.

How does Turnitin work?
The text in a student’s submission is compared to a large database of other students’ submissions from Capilano and many other institutions as well as to textual material located on the web such as webpages, journals, etc.   


Once the comparison is completed, Turnitin generates: 

  • a “Similarity Score” indicating the percentage of the student’s submission that matches one or more online sources  
  • a “Similarity Report” highlighting the similar content and providing weblinks to each of the matched sources.   


Determining if plagiarism has occurred requires analysis by the instructor – The instructor then uses the Similarity Report to determine whether plagiarism has occurred, i.e., examine the source content, examine the matched content. For example, if the matched content is within the Bibliography or is a commonly used phrase in the field of study, it is less likely that the student has plagiarised.   


Please note: Turnitin does not detect plagiarism.   

Does Turnitin work for languages other than English?

Yes, it does.  The matching algorithm is not language specific. If French, Spanish, etc. language content is copied and pasted and submitted, Turnitin will identify the similarity. 


Please note: Turnitin will not match English language content that has been translated from another language, e.g., a student translates a paper from French to English and submits the English version.  Turnitin will not identify the similarity.  

Is Turnitin compliant with BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA)?
Yes, Turnitin is FOIPPA compliant.  BCNET completed a privacy impact assessment (PIA) and a master services agreement with Turnitin.  Under the agreement, institutions that sign up for Turnitin have access to the software hosted in Canada.   


Turnitin’s Privacy/Security statement can be foundhere.  For more information, please contact CapU’s Privacy Office at privacy@capilanou.ca.   


For more information about using Turnitin, go to: Using Turnitin in Your Courses


Capilano University is named after Chief Joe Capilano, an important leader of the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) Nation of the Coast Salish people. We respectfully acknowledge that our campuses are located on the unceded sovereign Indigenous Nations of Lil’wat, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm(Musqueam), Shíshálh (Sechelt), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh(Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh).


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