Turnitin FAQ's

Q: What does Turnitin check?
A: Turnitin.com checks student submissions against a variety of sources including:

  • Over 150 million student papers
  •  Papers purchased or copied from "term paper mills," essay-writing services, or other commercial websites
  •  Over 90,000 journals, periodicals, books, and electronic textbooks
  •  Nearly 14 billion web pages, with web crawls done weekly to add new pages

Q: How does Turnitin work?
A: Turnitin is comprised of a vast database of academic materials and resources. When a student submits a paper to the system, the service checks the student's submission against its database of materials to look for matches to text or other materials stored in the Turnitin database. The system then generates an originality report that indicates an overall similarity rate. The similarity rate shows the percentage of matching text, as well as sources for the text that was used in the student's paper.

Q: Is my paper protected once it is submitted to Turnitin?
A:  Absolutely. The Turnitin system is vigorously protected and encrypted. The system has never been breached. Further, Turnitin does not provide information to third-parties.

Q: Does requiring the use of Turnitin comply with FERPA?
A:  Yes. FERPA is used to protect the educational records of a student. The Department of Education confirmed that an educational institution that requires submission to Turnitin before submitting to the instructor for grading does not violate FERPA because at that point, the papers do not meet the definition for an educational record. Additionally, Turnitin does not release personal identifying information.

Q: How do I submit assignments into Turnitin?
A: GCU provides a tutorial that will walk you through the steps of submitting assignments into the Turnitin system integrated in your online classroom.

Q: What if I do not submit my assignment to Turnitin?
A: GCU requires students to submit all assignments that are over 500 words to the Turnitin system within the online classroom. Instructors may also require other assignments to be submitted. You may receive no credit for work that was not submitted to Turnitin as required.

Q:  What are the benefits of using Turnitin?

  • Detects academic dishonesty; promotes academic integrity.
  •  Assists students in familiarizing themselves with proper citation and reference of sources.
  •  Protects students from unauthorized use of their work by protecting their intellectual property.
  •  Students are given the opportunity to analyze their work for any potential plagiarism or integrity issues, and can correct any citation errors.

Q: If I submit my assignment early and notice potential issues on my Turnitin report, can I rewrite the assignment and resubmit it to Turnitin?
A: The Turnitin system will allow you to resubmit a revised assignment, as long as your instructor has set up the drop box to allow this. Please verify with your instructor that he/she has set up the drop box to allow for resubmissions that will overwrite the original submission.

Q:  Is there an acceptable similarity rate? When is my similarity rate too high?
A: The American Psychological Association (APA) states that academic writing should contain no more than 20% quoted material. However, instructors are permitted to indicate that a lower percentage is required for an assignment. An originality report with a score higher than 20% may be cause for concern about the originality of content and should be thoroughly reviewed by both student and instructor for potential plagiarism.

Please note that, even if the originality report is under the 20% guideline, instructors are still required to review the report to ensure that no portion of the assignment is plagiarized. The acceptable similarity rate for plagiarism is zero.