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View submissions and similarity reports


1. Introduction

This guide describes the Flags function which advises of incidences such as hidden text within an assignment for you to review, plus the Similarity index which shows the percentage of text found similar to other submitted work.


2. Flags - checking for hidden text

In the Submissions inbox click the View Similarity report icon/link (you can also see Similarity Tools when opening the assignment in Feedback Studio):

similarity report

Click the Similarity Tools icon to expand the menu:

similarity tools main icon

The expanded menu below shows one flag issue found to review so we click on the flag icon to expand this:

flags for review indicated

 

 

flag menu large view first

The right-hand panel shows where the issue is in the essay marked with a red flag – see above.

The left-hand panel details what the issue is about. In this case, it has detected hidden text in the essay.  If we click the expression Hidden text in the right-hand panel this expands as well to show the amount of ‘hidden’ characters evident on a number of pages within the essay: 

flag view large essay

The left-hand panel shows each of the hidden characters.

If we zoom in just above the second paragraph we see that one of these characters is an opening quotation mark.

hidden text zoom in quotation mark

One device that has been used to evade text being searched is to enclose it in quotation marks, that is if the assignment/essay has been created and ‘exclude quoted material’ has been set when creating the assignment.

For example, choosing the above setting will ignore text that is contained within quotation marks which usually will be listed in the references/bibliography list at the end of the essay.


3. Similarity Index

The Similarity Index is a percentage of the submission that Turnitin matched to text on other submissions, regardless of whether or not the text was referenced and cited correctly.

NB: Don't be too keen to make decisions based on the headline number. It's entirely possible that a student's paper may come back with a 100% match, but if they've referenced and cited it correctly, it's not plagiarism. It may not be a very good essay, containing little original thought, but it's not plagiarism.

Conversely, a 1% match that isn't referenced and cited correctly may very well be plagiarism. It's important to check each submission and use your academic judgement. For more information, you may want to consult your subject area for support with Academic Integrity.

a. Click the Similarity (coloured bar next to a percentage)

  • 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 

To understand the similarity reports read this Turnitin UK help guide.

b. The Turnitin document viewer opens. The similarity index is displayed in the icons on the right.

Similarity index

In our example, it's 46%. The student’s submission is displayed on the left. You can click the similarity index to view text matches in the document.

  • Highlighted text means that the text matches another source. 
  • Text that hasn’t been matched is not highlighted.

46% example

c. You can click the All Sources icon (that looks like bar chart with an arrow) to view a list of sources that match text within the submission. Matches are listed from highest to lowest. You can click on a source and use the Exclude Sources button at the bottom of the column if appropriate.

All sources

This will update the similarity score for the paper, for everyone that views it. Excluded matches can be viewed by instructors by clicking the no entry icon (students cannot see this icon). 

d. The Filters and Settings icon allows you to exclude quotes, bibliography, and sources by size. Click Apply Changes to update the similarity index based on the exclusions you have selected.

Filters and settings

e. The Excluded Sources icon shows a list of any sources that you have manually excluded. You can use the Restore buttons at the bottom of the column if appropriate.  NB: By default if an assignment is previously uploaded into the wrong submission inbox, within the same module, the similarity report will automatically exclude it.

Excluded sources


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Page last updated: 22/02/2021

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