UMGC Library

Faculty Guidelines for Using Turnitin

Using Turnitin

As of January 2020, UMGC is using Turnitin through its integrated version in the LEO Classroom. Use of Turnitin is not mandatory but is encouraged because of its value as a teaching and learning tool. Faculty guidelines are to use the richness of the Similarity Report to understand strengths and potential weaknesses in students’ papers. Faculty (and students) are instructed to not draw conclusions from the Similarity Score by itself and to avoid using or advertising a set cutoff score for student work to be considered “acceptable.”

See Turnitin Resources for Faculty on the ENGAGE page of the Office of Academic Integrity and Accountability.

Similarity Reports

When a paper is evaluated, Turnitin provides similarity reports which tell you that text in the evaluated project or paper is similar to or identical to text Turnitin has in its database. Faculty must still evaluate the quality of the report independently and determine if the parts identified by Turnitin that are similar or identical, are actually plagiarized text. This is because all matches are shown, even those where students cited properly. As a result, faculty must critique the report they receive, use their best judgment and follow University policy before approaching a student about possible plagiarism.

Similarly, if a paper is reported as "original" by Turnitin, that is not necessarily airtight evidence that the paper is original. Instead, it may mean that the student plagiarized from a work that is not available in the Turnitin database. If a faculty member has a concern, and strongly suspects plagiarism, it is best to email integrity@umgc.edu to consult about the situation. No database is entirely comprehensive, and many sources are not available in digital format. Therefore, plagiarism can occur and be undetectable by services such as Turnitin.

Notice to Students

Faculty Providing Notice to Students 
In all classes, you must notify your students that the Turnitin service will be used through integration into assignment folders in the LEO Classroom. For online courses, the language below will appear by default in the academic policies section of your syllabus. You should also place an announcement in the class announcements section. A sample announcement is found in the Full User Guide for Program Directors and Faculty found on the OAIA’s ENGAGE page. For face-to-face courses, place the notice in your syllabus and verbally inform students of the service during the first class meeting. This notice will appear in the academic policies section of your syllabus:

Syllabus Language:
Your instructor and other UMGC staff may use Turnitin or other technology resources to support the development and assessment of authentic student writing. To learn more about Turnitin, the feedback it provides, and your options regarding the inclusion of your work in the Turnitin database, visit University guides for Turnitin at http://sites.umgc.edu/library/libresources/turnitin-students.cfm and http://sites.umgc.edu/library/libresources/turnitin.cfm#studentcopyright.

Faculty: Please do not submit papers prepared by UMGC students to other plagiarism service providers not supported by UMGC.

Student Copyright

The UMGC license with Turnitin also specifies that students retain copyright to their submitted assignments and that the assignments will be stored only for the duration of UMGC's contract with Turnitin and solely for the purpose of using such papers as source material to prevent plagiarism of such papers.

The University has a license agreement with Turnitin, an educational tool that helps prevent or identify plagiarism from Internet resources. The instructor may use the service in the UMGC class by using the integrated version of Turnitin that is embedded directly in assignment folders in the LEO Classroom. The Turnitin Similarity Report will indicate the amount of original text in the students' work and whether all material that was quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source was cited as appropriate.

If Turnitin is enabled in any given assignment in the LEO Classroom, Turnitin will ordinarily store that assignment in its database. The assignment will be checked to see if there is any match between that work and other material stored in Turnitin's database. If the student objects to long-term storage of their work in the Turnitin database, the student must let the instructor know no later than two weeks after the start of the class so that the instructor can make appropriate arrangements. The student has two options regarding the assignment being stored in the Turnitin database. One, if the student does nothing then the assignment will be stored in the Turnitin database for the duration of UMGC's contract with Turnitin. Two, the student can ask the instructor to have Turnitin store the assignment only for the duration of the semester or term, then have the assignment deleted from the Turnitin database once the class is over.

Faculty who need assistance setting up options should consult with an Office of Academic Integrity & Accountability staff member by emailing integrity@umgc.edu.

Student Privacy

Student papers are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as they are educational records that contain personally identifiable information. As long as students' papers are stored in the Turnitin database, your name and e-mail address will be associated with your students' papers. If the paper submitted by or on behalf of another student at UMUC or any other institution that utilizes the Turnitin database matches your student's paper, you may be contacted. Faculty are not permitted to release student papers either to other UMUC faculty or faculty from other institutions. If Turnitin requests permission to release a paper, faculty shall deny the request.

Suspected Plagiarism

In a case of suspected plagiarism, faculty should refer to UMUC's Policy 150.25 -Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism and proceed accordingly. You may consult with Case Managers in the Office of Academic Integrity by emailing integrity@umgc.edu. You may also consult with your Program Director, Department Chair, or Associate Dean. If you have found adequate evidence of a level of plagiarism that appears to clearly violate Policy 150.25, follow the instructions for notifying a student and proceeding through the case process using the Academic Integrity Review & Support (AIRS) System.

Use of Other Services in Evaluating Student Plagiarism

Use of Internet services to evaluate plagiarism should be conducted only through the license agreement selected and authorized by the University. Please do not submit papers prepared by UMGC students to other plagiarism service providers not approved of by UMGC. If you have any questions, please email integrity@umgc.edu.