Turnitin is a web-based system, so student papers (essays or assignments) need to be made available in electronic format. Turnitin cannot find any matching text with sources that are not available electronically - or search databases that are password protected.

The resulting Originality Report (which reports the percentage of words in the student paper that match existing electronic sources) requires careful consideration and interpretation.

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Access via TurnitinUK website

Access via VLE (Canvas)

  • Contact your local Canvas Coordinator to get access to a suitable Canvas course
  • Make sure that the relevant students have been enrolled in the course in Canvas
  • Create an assignment using the Assignments tool
  • Select the options for Turnitin (follow the on-screen guidance), and decide whether or not you wish students to view their reports

The advantages of using the Turnitin option from within Canvas are:

  • No need to set up an independent account with the external service
  • No need to upload students into a class list, since your students should already be in your Canvas course
  • No need to email Turnitin passwords and logon instructions to students
  • Assignments within the VLE can be integrated with other teaching and learning activities to provide a streamlined learning experience for students

Under the University of Oxford examination and assessment framework (EAF) students are not currently permitted to submit their own work through Turnitin. Please contact your tutor or supervisor for help in using the system.

Warning: Avoid "free" plagiarism web checks

Do not use so-called 'free plagiarism checking' websites - they may store and use your essay for fraudulent purposes!


Oxford University has a subscription to the TurnitinUK service, which is supported and informed by JISC. IT Services manages the service and creates instructor accounts for staff members on request. The Turnitin licence allows screening of the prescribed coursework of registered Oxford University students only.

There is a separate product (iThenticate) for professional use to screen the work of academics and researchers, proposed articles for publication, or proposals submitted by prospective students for admissions purposes. For various reasons (mainly file sizes), iThenticate will be used to scan electronic research theses written by registered Oxford students for degree purposes. Please contact student systems if you wish to use the University's iThenticate licence.

Oxford University policy currently does not allow student to use the system independently - a tutor, supervisor or administrator needs to use either TurnitinUK (see Section 5); or Canvas (see Section 6). If using TurnitinUK, student papers are uploaded by staff members using the Quick Submit option and the staff member then accesses the resulting Originality Report. If using Canvas, an assignment needs to be created in a suitable Canvas course for students to upload their papers themselves and view their Originality Reports (if this option is enabled by the person setting up the assignment).

From the University's Legal office: ‘Given the disciplinary implications if plagiarism is found, from the point of view of transparency and fairness, all reasonable steps should be taken to alert a student to the fact that his/her work may be subjected to specialist plagiarism detection software.' This is in addition to the overall statement included in the student contract which students are required to sign when they are admitted to the university’ (email from Legal Services Office, 24/02/2012). Education Committee provides a Declaration of Authorship, which can be used to accompany the submission of summative pieces of work. The Declaration may be modified by departments and faculties according to their own regulations (see our student study skills guidance).

After student papers have been submitted and compared to various repositories and databases, an Originality Report (OR) is produced for each submission. The OR highlights parts of the student's text which match with text already held in the Turnitin and other online databases. An overall score (the similarity index) is assigned recording the percentage of the submitted work which is found elsewhere. Scores can be adjusted to take account of properly quoted text and bibliographies.

Originality Reports should not be taken as an indication that plagiarism has occurred. They are simply a tool to help an instructor find sources that contain text similar to submitted papers. The decision to deem any work plagiarised must be made carefully, and only after in-depth examination of both the submitted paper and suspect sources in accordance with the standards of the class and institution where the paper was submitted’ (Turnitin Instructor Manual, 2010, p. 48

There is a quick submit option in the TurnitinUK service which is useful if a staff member wishes to do a quick check on a small number of papers, without having to set up a class and an assignment.

Turnitin is enabled via the Canvas Assignments tool. The assignment must first be set up in a suitable Canvas course by the staff member (‘teacher' or 'course administrator' in the Canvas course). Students should already be enrolled as members, and then they can submit their essays. The Originality Report is returned in the Assignments tool within around 10 to 15 minutes.


  • You do not need to request a separate Turnitin account
  • You do not need to create a class in Turnitin
  • You do not need to enrol students directly in a Turnitin class - your students can be easily enrolled in your Canvas course by importing the course group from the central Oxford University database
  • You do not need to create an assignment in Turnitin - you do this in Canvas
  • Students make use of their existing Oxford username and Single Sign-On (SSO) login details
  • Students submit their own assignments using Canvas
  • Turnitin Originality Reports are delivered back to the Canvas Assignments tool, for analysis and discussion with the student
  • The environment is familiar to students and staff who already use Canvas


  • In regular Canvas courses, students are identified by their Oxford single sign on (SSO) login details
  • University policy is that Canvas may be used for formative assessment only (e.g. essays, quizzes, graded discussions), and not for summative assessments

Various sources of help and support are available in considering using a software text matching system for both the formative improvement of students' academic writing skills and for formal detection of possible occurrences of plagiarism.

Use the TurnitinUK website to activate your instructor account, set up classes and assignments, or use the quick submit option.

Support for TurnitinUK is also available from the TurnitinUK website - click on Support, then select Training. This offers detailed support for instructors and students in the form of Quickstart Guides, User Manuals and Narrated Videos.

www.plagiarism.org offers a wealth of support material, videos and free training webinars on a regular basis, on both pedagogical and technical aspects.

For information regarding supporting students in their writing and academic development, please refer to the Oxford University website Study Skills and Training.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning offers a lunch-time course covering plagiarism awareness and use of Turnitin.

Carroll, J. & Appleton, J. (2001). Plagiarism. A good practice guide. JISC and Oxford Brookes University. 

Carroll, J. (2002). A handbook for deterring plagiarism in higher education, 2nd ed. Oxford Brookes University: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development. Available at: http://www.brookes.ac.uk/ocsld/publications/

Carroll, J. and Appleton, J. (2007) Support and guidance for international students: what is good practice? In Jones, E. and Brown, S. (Eds.) Internationalising the University. Routledge.

Turnitin User Guides - integration with Canvas (similar for WebLearn integration). Available at https://help.turnitin.com/feedback-studio/canvas/plagiarism-framework/teacher/teacher-category.htm

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