Instructor Support for Educational Systems

Interpreting Turnitin's Similarity scores

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This article will explain how to interpret Turnitin's similarity scores from the similarity reports. This article has the following structure:

Accessing the similarity report

In order to find the similarity report:

  1. Go to Assignments
  2. Go to the assignment  you would like to see the similarity reports of
  3.  The Turnitin Similarity column shows all generated reports
  4.  If you want to open the similarity report, click on the percentage in the Turnitin Similarity column. A new window will open.

How does the similarity report work?

Student's submissions are checked against the Turnitin-database. This database contains internet content, past Turnitin-submissions, scholarly publications, et cetera. If there are passages that match against entries in that database, these will be flagged for review in the similarity reports. Similarity Reports provide a summary of matching or highly similar text found in a submitted paper.

A high score does not necessarily mean plagiarism. Similarities may be due to proper citations. As an instructor, always determine whether plagiarism is actually the case.

Interpreting the scores

The colors in the Turnitin Similarity column indicate the level of similarity. This enables you to quickly scan for high similarity scores:

  • Blue: No matching text
  • Green: One word to 24% matching text
  • Yellow: 25-49% matching text
  • Orange: 50-74% matching text
  • Red: 75-100% matching text

Reviewing the detailed report

After clicking on the percentage in the Turnitin Similarity column, you will see the similarity report  details. In the report, you see the original document with pages highlighted where similarities are found. If the similarity is specific enough, the highlighted passages contain a note referencing the matching source publication(s). If you click on the note, you can review the source publication to assess whether the similarity is a case of plagiarism.

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