M09b - Turnitin Assignment

Keywords: assessment, feedback, grading, marking, plagiarism, referencing, reference. 

Please refer to the Digital Assessment - an Overview for an overview of marking in Moodle (regardless of the tool you settle on using - either Moodle or Turnitin).

What is it?

Turnitin is a text originality-checking technology which can be used for setting, submitting, marking and giving feedback on assignments.  Although Turnitin accepts a range of file formats. For text submissions, we recommend the submission of Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF files. Turnitin can generate a similarity/originality report. This means it will compare submitted work against a host of databases, and highlight where similarities have been found in text.  Each submission is private between the student and the tutor/marker(s) - staff with Tutor or Course Administrator access to the Moodle course. 

Turnitin assignments are accessed via Moodle and provide an alternative assignment type to Moodle assignments (although Moodle assignments can be enabled for Turnitin similarity checking via the Moodle assignment settings). Turnitin allows submitted and marked submissions to be downloaded for printing or storage. It is also possible to download marking data from the use of QuickMarks, rubrics and grading forms to a spreadsheet for analysis of students' performance. Marking with Turnitin occurs online (unless you are using an ipad, which enables offline marking.  Digital Education are unable to support issues with offline marking using the iPad app). 

Why use it?

Managing Submissions

Turnitin assignments allow tutors to:

  • Set and provide guidance and instructions for assignments
  • Receive assignments and provide feedback to students online
  • Email non submitters and alert them to an approaching deadline


Turnitin assignments enable markers to give different kinds of feedback, including:

  • Inline 'bubble' comments

  • Quickmarks - markers can create a bank of reusable comments and use them across various assignments. Comments can also be put into categories.

  • The option to link any comment or Quickmark to a criteria
  • Rubrics - a matrix of criteria and levels of achievement, optionally with numeric marks attached

  • Grading form/Marking guide - criteria each of which receives its own, optionally weighted numeric mark, along with optional typed feedback

  • Inline text comments

  • General overall feedback

  • Audio feedback

The Turnitin feedback tool allows for anonymous/blind marking and additionally allows staff to download marking data to analyse the performance of both individual students, classes and cohorts across one or more assignments and modules.

Similarity checking

Turnitin's Similarity/Originality Report highlights matches in text which can shed light on students' quoting, paraphrasing and referencing practices.

Who can use it?

Staff can set up assessments, generate and view Similarity Reports, grade work, provide feedback, download submissions and export grades and feedback.

Students can view and interact with feedback, download their marked work, and optionally view Similarity Reports. What students can do, and when, depends on settings chosen by staff.

Before I start...

  • Set up some Test Student Accounts so that you can try out your assignment from a student point of view. This will allow you to anticipate what instructions students will need, and where they should be displayed.
  • Consider the kinds of feedback you will give. If you have a Quickmark Set or Rubric you are expected to use, ensure you have access to that.
  • Organise a hands-on demonstration session for any other colleagues who will be using Turnitin in the way you anticipate, but are unfamiliar with Turnitin (students are sensitive to inconsistencies of marking approach).
  • Think about the instructions you will give students, including information about engaging with their feedback.
  • Have the agreed dates for deadlines and release of marks to hand.
  • If you are marking anonymously and need to keep copies of anonymised submissions e.g. for External Examiner use later, then write a diary note to download these before anonymity is lifted when marks are released.

How do I set one up?

To add a Turnitin assignment to your course:

  1. Turn edit mode on, then navigate to the course area and select the +plus symbol, or click on the Add an activity or resource link and select Assignment (Turnitin).
  2. Enter a Turnitin Assignment Name
  3. Enter a Summary, include brief instructions to students on submission deadline, draft submissions, file type etc. Summary text will display at the top of the assignment page (A template is provided below).
  4. Some settings we'd particularly like to flag up:
    • Anonymous Marking - This is enabled by default if you create a new assignment.  If you are re-using an existing assignment, please check the settings before making it Visible to students. Student names will be anonymised until the post date and can only be de-anonymised individually and by providing a reason. Once a submission is made, anonymous marking cannot not be disabled via the assignment settings.  If no submissions have yet been made, anonymity can be turned on/off by selecting Edit settings > Anonymous marking: Yes / No.
    • Allow submission of any file type? - If disabled (i.e. set to "No") then your Turnitin assignment will only accept submissions for which it can generate a Similarity Report. For example, according to this user guide Accepted file types and sizes Turnitin cannot create a Similarity Report if the submission has less than 20 words. This can happen if students submit an image-based rather than a text-based PDF file. In this case the PDF may be a “picture” of text rather than being a direct conversion of a text-based file like a Word document to PDF. But, if this setting is enabled, (i.e. set to "Yes") then the Turnitin assignment will accept any file type whether it can process it to produce a Similarity Report or not. 
    • - If enabled any Similarity Report generated for a submission is made available to the student submitter.
    • Originality Report Options > Store Student Papers :

      • Standard Repository: student papers submitted to this assignment are stored in the Turnitin database and checked against other students' submissions within this assignment, as well as other sources.

      • No repository - (not stored in Turnitin, for drafts/testing): student papers are checked against other sources, but not against other submissions to this assignment and the paper is not stored in the Turnitin database. Use this for testing similarity and for drafts, so that other ('standard repository') submissions won't be matched to it.
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save and display.


  • Students need guidance to find any feedback you give using a Rubric. Let them know it exists and where to find it.
  • The percentage match on the Similarity Report cannot be used as any indicator of plagiarism.
  • If you have a large cohort and wish to divide it into manageable marking loads, set up these groups on Moodle first (and include the marker in the group).
  • Ensure both colleagues and students know how you plan to use Turnitin, including grading strategy.
  • Turnitin is currently oriented towards single markers. Digital Education can suggest some workflows to manage multiple markers. For example, if you need to keep submissions anonymous for some roles e.g. external examiners but not for others e.g. markers meeting with students, then somebody needs to log into turnitinuk.com before the marks are released, and bulk export the submissions in their original anonymised state.
  • Turnitin's word count may be different from that of the original word processed document, and different again from a PDF export of that original.
  • Students may submit up to three times and receive a similarity report within 15 minutes. Further submissions will not generate a Similarity Report in less than 24 hours; this is to promote engagement with the reports and avoid gaming.
  • To orientate Turnitin to development rather than policing, support students to engage with their Similarity Report before making their final submission. 
  • Avoid creating Turnitin Assignments by duplicating existing ones, since the new instance will be linked to the inbox of the original instance.
  • iPad users, be aware that because syncing overwrites data, multiple markers need to coordinate with extreme caution. ISD is unable to offer technical support for the iPad app.
  • Turnitin only recognises quotations within double quotation marks i.e. not inverted commas. This may inflate the percentage match. 
  • Peer marking is possible, although not necessarily recommended due to some outstanding functionality issues (see separate guidance).  Staff configure how work should be allocated and set up questions for student markers to answer.

Examples and case studies

Turnitin Summary Template

Please submit your [assignment description e.g. “3,000 word final essay”] here by the [due date and time].

Ensure that you submit no later than 2min before this time.

You will [or will NOT] be able to re-submit and obtain a similarity report for each submission made prior to the deadline.

When you re-submit, your previous submission is overwritten by the current one so, if your work comprises several separate files, e.g. a cover sheet and an essay, merge both parts into one document before you submit.

If you do not submit anything here before the deadline, you will [or will NOT] be able to submit just once after the deadline.

Be sure to submit only these file types/formats: ….

Your submission must not exceed 40MB.

If you have submitted your work successfully you will receive a receipt via your UCL email account.

Questions & Answers

See Staff Turnitin FAQs.

Further information

Also, see our related guides: