How to set up Turnitin assignments

SCU’s Text matching software policy states that all students must be provided access to similarity checking. There are two ways academics can do this:

  • Option one: use Turnitin assignments
  • Option two: use a Blackboard assignment drop-box (for grading student work), and provide students with a Turnitin similarity checking link (to check their own work).

This guide offers guidance for both options and notes some pedagogical implications of each strategy. It should also be noted that if a unit assessor determines an assignment is not appropriate for similarity checking they can receive dispensation for the assessment task from their head of school or course coordinator.

Regardless of the option selected, in order to enable students to use Turnitin as a learning tool it is important to:

  • open Turnitin assignment drop-boxes at least 2 weeks prior to the assignment due date
  • inform students of similarity checking settings used (e.g. via an ‘item’ above the drop-box)
  • use settings that allow students to access their similarity reports immediately and continue to submit work until the due date
  • talk about similarity checking and how to practise academic integrity in your unit or discipline
  • there are excellent student support resources on Turnitin and academic integrity available from the Student Learning Zone.

Option one: Turnitin assignments

Turnitin assignments are the most common option used at SCU.  This option makes similarity checking use mandatory and simplifies the assessment process for students. Similarity reports are automatically generated the first 3 times students submit work through the assignment drop-box (there is a 24-hour wait for subsequent submissions). Also, using Turnitin assignments opens the option for academics to use the online grading software QuickMark.

Steps for setting up a Turnitin assignment

1. To create a Turnitin assignment click on Assessment Tasks and Submission>Task in the site, then select Turnitin Assignment from the Assessments menu at the top of the content area.

2.  If you want to set up a Turnitin assignment where students submit a draft assignment for feedback prior to final submission, the draft assignment should be created as a Revision Assignment and the final submission should be created as a Paper Assignment. Creating an assignment in this way will mean that the originality of the final submission will not be checked against the draft submission. Care must be taken when setting submission dates to avoid students submitting a draft assignment to the (final) Revision Assignment.

3.  If you want your students to be able to perform peer reviews on a Turnitin assignment, then a PeerMark Assignment can be used. This type of assignment is also based upon an initial Paper Assignment.

4. Selecting Next Step will open the Turnitin New Assignment page.

The following settings are configurable on this page:

  • Assignment title: A name for the assignment is required. The students will see this name in the list of tasks on the Assessment Details page.
  • Point value: This is the maximum mark that can be attained for this assignment. When the assignment is created, a column will be created in the Grade Centre with this value being the maximum mark that can be entered when marking.
  • If you want Turnitin to accept only files that are compatible with Turnitin’s similarity checking service, select Allow only file types that Turnitin can check for similarity. If instead, Allow any file type is selected, students can submit any file type and Turnitin will perform similarity checking on the file if it is able to do so.
  • Start date: This is the date after which students are able to submit their assignments.
  • Due date: This is the date after which students are prevented from submitting an assignment (unless late assignment submission is enabled, in which case the submission will be marked as late).
  • Post date: This is the date after which students can begin viewing the marks and feedback stored on their Turnitin assignment via their My Grades.  This date setting does not affect when grades are posted to the Grade Centre.

5. Optional settings:  While titled ‘optional’ these settings are essential to using Turnitin to support student academic integrity. Careful setting selection can enable students to use Turnitin as an editing tool, and improve the use of sources in their writing. In this way, Turnitin can be used as part of the educative approach taken to student academic integrity at SCU.

Enter special instructions: These instructions (up to 2000 characters) will appear below the assignment title on the Assessment Details page.

At SCU, directions such as ‘Submit assignment 1 here’ are commonly included.

Note: An originality declaration will automatically appear when students use the Turnitin assignment drop-box, so you do not need to add a declaration here.

  • Allow submissions after the due date?: Set this to Yes in order to allow submissions after the due date, providing it is their first attempt.
  • Generate similarity reports for submissions?: Select Yes so that Turnitin will perform similarity checking for all submissions.
  • Generate similarity reports for student submissions: Select immediately (can overwrite reports until due date) to ensure the similarity report is generated as soon as the student submits their work, and so that subsequent submissions generate new originality. This setting will help students to use Turnitin as a learning tool, to edit their work.

Note: The similarity report will be generated within 2-5 minutes the first three times the student submits work through the Turnitin assignment drop-box. However, on the fourth and subsequent submissions, it will take up to 24 hours for the report to be created.

•  Exclude bibliographic materials from Similarity Index for all papers in this assignment?: Select Yes to exclude bibliographical material from similarity checking and avoid references inflating the Similarity Score. Selecting Yes here means any matched-text present in the reference list or bibliography will not be identified or included in the Similarity Score.

Note: Some disciplines select No for this setting because they want to check if references have been copied. Check with your School academic integrity officer if in doubt.

  • Exclude quoted materials from Similarity Index for all papers in this assignment?: Select No if the unit is taken by new students who are learning to write at university. Selecting No will include quotes as highlighted matched-text in the similarity report, giving students a chance to double-check they have used quotes correctly. Select Yes for more experienced students, who are familiar with disciplinary writing conventions regarding the use of quotes as evidence.
  • Exclude small matches?: Select Yes and take the option to select the word count threshold for matched-text. If new students are taking the unit who are learning how to paraphrase academic sources select 5 words. This will help students use the similarity report to identify and edit poor paraphrases too close to the original phrasing. For more experienced students who possess strong paraphrasing skills select 7 words. These settings will help ensure the similarity report contains useful information about the student’s writing, and support the use of the similarity report as a final editing phase.
  • Allow students to see similarity reports?: Select Yes so that students can see their similarity report(s). Selecting Yes supports SCU’s educational approach to student academic integrity. Making similarity reports visible to students enables them to view and use Turnitin similarity reports to improve their writing.
  • Reveal grades to students only on post date?: If set to Yes, then marks are hidden from the student until the post. If set to No, then marks are available to the student as soon as the submission has been marked.
  • Submit papers to: For Turnitin assignments and mandatory Turnitin similarity checking links, select standard paper repository to ensure submissions are stored in the Turnitin repository and comparisons between student papers can be made over time. Selecting this setting assists identification of collusion (e.g. copying between students).

For optional Turnitin links and ‘sandpits’ select no repository to ensure the work is not stored in the Turnitin repository and students avoid very high matches when they submit their work for grading through another Turnitin drop-box. See more about setting up optional Turnitin drop-boxes in option two below.

  • Search options: Select all three search options to ensure the most thorough similarity checking takes place, and the similarity report is of most use to students as an editing tool.
  • Attach a rubric/form to this assignment: This option allows a Turnitin rubric or grading form to be associated with the assignment. These rubrics/forms can be created using the Rubric/Form Manager or obtained from Turnitin Teaching Tools and edited accordingly.

Note: While Blackboard rubrics are not compatible with Turnitin assignments there is a workaround available in the Turnitin and rubrics guide.

6. Store settings: The similarity checking settings chosen can be used for future Turnitin drop-boxes by ticking the appropriate checkbox.

7. Submit: When you have chosen the settings for the assignment, select Submit and the new Turnitin assignment will be created and appear on the Assessment Details page.

8. Inform students of matched-text setting: Add an ‘item’ above the Turnitin drop-box, and outline the similarity checking settings used. Students need this information in order to use Turnitin to their advantage, to improve their writing.

Option two: Blackboard assignments with Turnitin similarity checking link

Setting up a Turnitin drop-box for student similarity checking

This is a much more complicated submission process for students, and ideally it should be reserved for more experienced scholars. Some academics make Turnitin available as an option, while others mandate its use and require students to copy and paste a screenshot of their similarity report into their assignment.

If using this option it is important to:

  • consider whether the assessment process is onerous for students (especially new students)
  • provide clear instructions to students regarding the assessment submission process and how to perform any special requirements (e.g. how to copy and paste the Similarity Report Receipt or Similarity Score into the assignment) - ideally, instructions and support will be provided on the Blackboard site in the relevant assessment submission area
  • identify the originality checking settings used near the Turnitin drop-box on the unit Blackboard site
  • When setting up the Turnitin drop-box select the option to include submissions in the Turnitin repository (in Optional settings) to enable student work to be compared and collusion to be identified.

 Final tips about setting up Turnitin drop-boxes

1. Each time a Turnitin dropbox is set up on the Blackboard site a column appears in the Grade Centre.

2. Turnitin assignments can be edited after creation, including adjusting assignment dates. Turnitin assignments can also be deleted and have Adaptive Release applied by clicking on the downward arrow that appears when you pass your mouse over the assignment name on the Assessment Details page. Turnitin assignments that are copied from one site to another will not work. You must recreate Turnitin assignments for each teaching period.    

3. For technical support with Turnitin see the support resources below. For specific queries contact Blackboard Help (bbhelp@scu.edu.au).

Further information

SCU’s Text matching software policy

Interpreting similarity reports

Turnitin Feedback Studio – Instructor

Turnitin’s Help Centre