How Students Can Avoid Plagiarism On Turnitin
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Turnitin is a plagiarism detection tool that is used by most universities within the UK to check for originality in academic writing.
The way Turnitin works is, it will analyse the submitted work to identify text matches with other sources, including the internet, electronic journal publications, and previously submitted work by other students.
The tool provides a ‘similarity score’ expressed as a percentage, which allows students and lecturers to see where plagiarism could have occurred. Although, a lecturer will ultimately decide whether or not potential plagiarism exists within an assignment.
Within this guide we will be exploring effective strategies for avoiding plagiarism, as well as tips to help students use Turnitin to its full potential and check the originality of their work!
What Is Plagiarism?
Before using Turnitin, it is important to understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it whilst at university.
Plagiarism is the most common academic offence, which is often carried out unintentionally by university students due to the fact that they don’t understand how to reference properly.
In simple terms, plagiarism is copying another person’s work or ideas without citing and referencing that source in your work.
What many students don’t realise is that there are many different ways of plagiarising whilst at university, including self-plagiarism.
This means you’re not allowed to submit the same work for more than one assessment or module, regardless if it is your own or not!
Other examples include paraphrasing other people’s work without acknowledging them, copying and pasting material from the internet and quoting a source without including a citation to name a few.
In this digital age, plagiarism can also occur from university students using artificial intelligence software’s like ChatGPT to write exams, essays and assessments for them.
Why Is This An Issue?
Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty which discourages the learning process, as assessments are meant to showcase your capabilities and highlight what you’ve learnt through your studies.
It goes against your best academic practices as your lecturers cannot decipher between your own abilities and understanding and someone else’s.
Those who plagiarise are ultimately only hurting themselves, as you’re the one paying for your education and passing off someone else’s work as your own, ultimately devalues your whole degree.
No matter if you plagiarised deliberately or not, you will be penalised for it if you’re caught out, with consequences varying depending on the seriousness and the context of the offence.
How Does Turnitin Work?
Turnitin is an online plagiarism detection tool used by universities across the UK and beyond to assess the originality of students’ work.
Students submit their assignments through their university website and Turnitin then compares the submitted work against previously submitted work, internet sources, and academic publications to identify any similarities.
The tool will then generate an originality report that highlights any instances of similarity in the submitted work.
The report includes a percentage score indicating the amount of text that matches other sources.
It’s important to note that a high similarity score on Turnitin doesn’t necessarily equal plagiarism.
So, don’t begin to panic if your score is 50%, as long as you have produced original work and properly cited your sources.
Instead, the originality report on Turnitin can be used by lecturers to see which parts of the assessment were flagged as matching other sources, and then determine whether it was a case of intentional plagiarism or an unintentional citation mistake.
Tips To Avoid Plagiarism On Turnitin
Now you know what plagiarism is and how Turnitin works, you can find out some key ways to avoid it and ensure your work is original and properly cited!
1. Use Your Own Words
When writing an assessment, you should make sure to use your own words to express your ideas and not copy directly from any sources without proper citation practices.
Try to showcase your unique perspective and thought process within your work as best you can, what do you have to say about a certain topic or point of view?
Developing your own writing style will not only benefit your academic future, but your professional future too.
If you do want to rewrite a source’s ideas into your own words,you should paraphrase and include citations to give credit to the original source using the appropriate citation style for your university.
Be careful though, as paraphrasing can be plagiarism if done incorrectly!
2. Ensure Proper Citation
When using sources within your university work, it’s important to ensure that you reference them properly in your work.
Different citation styles such as Harvard referencing style or The MHRA system for example, have their own guidelines for how to cite sources, so make sure to learn and use the appropriate style for your university course.
Double-check that you have included all the necessary information, such as the author’s name, publication date, title of the article or book, and page numbers within your citation.
Remember, Turnitin can detect whether you have properly cited your sources or not!
3. Remember Quotation Marks
One of the most simple ways you can avoid plagiarism using Turnitin is to make sure to use quotation marks, and include a citation if you want to use the exact words of an author or source within an assessment.
It’s important to enclose the text in quotation marks and provide the appropriate citations within your work.
This will indicate that the text is not your own and give proper credit to the original source.
4. Plan Ahead
Many students wait until the last minute to write their assessments, but procrastinating and rushing your work will not give you enough time to properly research, write and cite your sources.
We know, student life is hectic but rushing your assessments and not spending time properly citing your sources could result in a high Similarity Score on Turnitin, which represents the percentage of your writing that is similar or matches online sources.
Instead, plan ahead and keep a record of all the sources you use, as this will make it easier to create accurate citations and avoid accidentally plagiarising.
There’s nothing worse than forgetting where you’ve gotten a piece of information from, so keep track of the author, title, and publication information.
5. Check Your Work
Before submitting your work, go through and proofread your work to check you have cited every source you’ve included.
You can also use the Turnitin plagiarism checker to check for unintentional plagiarism so you can review the report and make any necessary revisions.
If Turnitin does detect plagiarism within your work, spend some time reviewing the report and learn from your mistakes.
Use it as an opportunity to improve your writing and citation skills for the future!
6. Reach Out For Help
Many students struggle with referencing and citing sources and hesitate to ask for help, but it’s better to do this than risk committing plagiarism!
If you are unsure about how to properly cite a source or have questions about avoiding plagiarism, ask your lecturers for help as they’re there to support you.
You should also make use of online resources to help you avoid plagiarism and ensure that you understand your university guidelines.
By following the tips we have discussed, you can ensure that your university work is original and properly cited when submitting to Turnitin, to avoid plagiarism.
Hopefully this guide has been useful, but if you do have any questions on plagiarism or best academic practices, speak to your course leader or lecturer.
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