An originality report is a report generated by Turnitin (TII) . It shows what percent of a student's submission matches against sources in its database.

The overall percentage is called the similarity index, this is displayed in the submission inbox and the originality report. A high similarity does not necessarily indicate plagiarism, similarity, a paper with a low similarity does not indicate no plagiarism is present. Turnitin looks for strings of text that match sources in its database and there may be many reasons why it has found a match. It is important when viewing the originality report to use your judgement and not focus on reaching a certain percentage. The Turnitin originality report is an educational tool that can be a starting point for discussion around how to cite and paraphrase scholarly material, reviewing the results match by match.

Video: Turnitin Originality Report: what it includes and excludes

Video: Turnitin Match Overview

Click on your Turnitin assignment from within your LEO unit.

Turnitin text match similarity index

  1. In the submission inbox, the similarity index indicates the whole text match
  2. To open the originality report, click on the similarity score (%) directly.
  3. An additional window or tab will open displaying the student assignment
  4. The main menu is collapsed on the right side. To view more detailed information about the match overview, click on the number displayed in the 'red' section of the menu
  5. The will open the match overview. To close the expanded view click on the cross next to the 'Match Overview':
    Turnitin originality report text match

What do the colours mean?

The colour ranges from blue (low percentage of matching text) to red (high percentage or matching text).

  • blue: (no matching words);
  • green (one matching word - 24% similarity index;
  • yellow (25%-49% similarity index);
  • orange (40%-74% similarity index);
  • red (75-100% similarity index).

There is no set colour indicating whether plagiarism has occurred and staff within a unit of study and within the faculty need to follow normal protocol when dealing with suspected breaches of academic honesty.

What does the colour indicate?

The overall similarity index and the corresponding colour scaling of percentage icon provides a basic indication of how much information contained in the submission is matched to other sources. This is an overall score based on matching done against the Turnitin repositories.

What percentage is safe?

There is no clear cut rules for this as it will depend on the type of assessment task. Usually most forms of assessment will contain some words from other sources. A low percentage score does not indicate the text is original. The student may have used obscure sources, sources not stored in the Turnitin database or Google translate to alter the structure of text.

A high percentage score may indicate poor academic writing or paraphrasing or an an overuse of quotations or a resubmission of work.

Its important to use academic judgement, such as:

  • Is this work at the standard I expect from this student?
  • Has the student attempted to cite source materials?
  • Are there instances of sudden changes in voice, style, formatting or argument.

Does Turnitin identify all source documents?

The Originality report will identify matching text in an assignment with possible sources from within its repositories, however there may be more than one possible source for the matching text. Turnitin is not able to identify which source out of these matches was used by the student. Occasionally Turnitin may identify the source used by the student as it may have subsequent appearances on various websites. Also Turnitin only examines electronic sources available to its search tools.

Which viewing options are used in Turnitin settings?

The Turnitin assignment settings exclude quotations and the bibliography or reference list from the the possible matching text. Excluding these sources affects the total percentage given in the report including total number of words included in the length of the document. These settings can be changed by the lecturer on a student by student basis to get a true picture of the total amount of text matching included in the whole document or the original work.

What can I do with matching text?

Each instance of matching text needs to be examined for correct citation and a corresponding reference list.

  • Has the student attempted to correctly reference the source?
  • Has the student attempted to paraphrase, summarise or quote using quotation marks?
  • Does the reference list match the in-text citations or footnotes?
  • Does the reference list match any sources shown in the originality report?
  • Are there long sections of completely unreferenced text?
  • Is the referencing style used consistent throughout?
  • Are there any unexplained changes in font or layout?
  • Are there any inconsistencies in writing style or 'voice'?

What to do if you suspect plagiarism?

Any decisions about plagiarism should follow normal protocols.

For more information about academic integrity and the rules and procedures if any of your assessments are in breach, refer to the Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy

Enable source view

If a text match is found with a student in another unit, the enable source view will allow you to:

  • View the text match in the pop window:
    • click submitted to Australian Catholic University for more information about the unit;
    • compare full source view;
    • download a original document or a PDF copy.

If you receive a request via email to view a student paper, please do not respond as student papers cannot be provided to external sources such as other Universities or Institutions.

Image files

File submissions that do not include selectable text,such as image files, will not generate an 'Originality 'report'  (this may also apply to PDFs that include text as a scanned image)

Silvey, V., Snowball, T., Do, T. (2016) Bridge over troubled water: a literary approach to using Turnitin in Journal of Academic Learning and Language, v.10, n.1, [online] accessed retrieved August 19th 2016

Wrigley, S. (2016) How universities can help students avoid plagiarism: get them to write, in The Conversation, [online], access retrieved August 19th 2016.

Dawson, P. and Sutherland-Smith, W. (2019) Can training improve marker accuracy at detecting contract cheating? A multi-disciplinary pre-post study? in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, v 44, n. 5, [online] access December 2019

Learning & teaching

Please contact the Learning and Teaching Centre for professional development, resources and advice for your learning and teaching needs at ACU.

LEO support

Available 8am-10pm Sydney time, Mon to Fri,
9am-5pm Weekends and public holidays
Closed Good Friday and Christmas

LEO Guides
LEO Guides feedback