Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Frequently Asked Questions: Canvas Pilot of Turnitin

The School of Architecture, School of Drama, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, School of Management, School of Music, School of Nursing, and School of Public Health have chosen to implement the pilot through Canvas. This allows faculty to enable Turnitin for assignments submitted through their active Canvas course sites. The feature is turned off by default. Beginning on October 22, the tool will be made available and faculty can enable the tool if they choose to.

How do I access Turnitin?

Turnitin is integrated into the Canvas Assignment tool in some sub accounts on Canvas @ Yale.  To find Turnitin, and to enable it for your assignment(s), please see the Turnitin Support Guide on Creating a Canvas Assignment.

Do I have to use Turnitin?

No, Turnitin is an optional tool within Canvas. Instructors can choose to enable and use the tool or they can ignore it and leave it disabled. If an instructor has enabled the tool for an assignment and students are required to submit their assignment, then students will not have the option to opt-out. The submission process will make it extremely clear to students when Turnitin is enabled for their assignments.

Why don’t I see Turnitin in my course?

Not every school at Yale is participating in the Turnitin Pilot during the 2018 - 2019 academic year.  If your course is not cross-listed or offered within a participating school, you will not have access to Turnitin. The pilot allows faculty to enable Turnitin for assignments submitted through their active Canvas course sites. The feature is turned off by default.  The following schools are participating in the pilot: School of Architecture, School of Drama, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, School of Management, School of Music, School of Nursing, and School of Public Health.   If you think you should have access, and do not, please email: canvas@yale.edu  

Can I use Turnitin for select assignments, but not all assignments?

Yes, Turnitin is activated at the assignment level. This means an instructor can choose to use Turnitin on as many or as few assignments as they wish throughout the semester.

How long does it take for Turnitin to generate a Similarity Report?

Similarity Reports are typically ready 15 minutes after uploading an assignment or paper. However, it may take up to 24 hours during peak times. Peak times typically occur during the middle or the end of semesters, when thousands of papers are submitted at once.

Does TurnItIn obtain any intellectual property ownership rights of the content I upload?

Absolutely not. You retain full ownership of all of your intellectual property uploaded to the site.

What is the “institutional paper repository” option?

Yale has purchased an “institution paper repository” to store papers submitted to Turnitin through Canvas. Yale submissions will not be stored in the general repository that can be accessed by other institutions or businesses using Turnitin to verify original work.  Any Yale course that chooses to use Turnitin has the option of storing submitted papers in Yale’s institution paper repository, or not storing them at all.   Storing student submissions in Yale’s private repository allows other Yale instructors to ensure that papers are not being copied and reused in other courses.  

Why would I not want to store submitted papers?

If you are creating an assignment where students are submitting a rough draft of a paper, you may not want to store the file in the repository.  Storing a draft means that when the student submits their final draft, the final draft may be flagged as plagiarized, because the rough draft is in the repository.

Do I need to tell my students that I am using Turnitin?

If you plan on using Turnitin for assignments within Canvas, then Students will receive an automatic notification that their work will be submitted to Turnitin for review. We recommend that you discuss and/or share a similarity report with your students. This is an opportunity for a conversation about proper citation and academic integrity.

For suggestions on how to talk about academic integrity, please refer to the Academic Integrity resource page by the Center for Teaching and Learning.  

What languages does Turnitin support?

For this pilot, Yale purchased the Similarity Report tool, which will check against English repositories.  Turnitin does offer an additional service called Translation Matching. If this is of interest to you, please email canvas@yale.edu.

How do I interpret the Similarity Report?

Turnitin provides the following guides on viewing the “Similarity Report” and interpreting the “Similarity Report.”

The similarity percentage indicates the overall similarity score of the paper, based on how much matching text was found (as a percentage of the total text in the submission). A breakdown of the scores with the color code is listed below:

  • Blue: 0% 
  • Green: 1-24%
  • Yellow: 25-49%
  • Orange: 50-74%
  • Red: 75-100%

Yale does not define a “safe” percentage, nor is a certain percentage a signal that plagiarism has occurred. According to Turnitin, “The Similarity [Report] is just a percentage of material in the paper that matches sources in the Turnitin databases.” In addition, if an instructor chooses to adjust the settings to include quotes and citations as content that can be matched, then: “Text that is quoted and cited will be included in the Similarity [Report], which offers a great opportunity to check for proper citation.”

One of the student papers is matched to a paper already submitted to the Yale University repository, what do I do?

If a paper is matched to another paper stored in the Yale University Institution paper repository, this would be indicated through a message “Submitted to Yale University,” and you would be prompted to request access to view the original text.  During the Pilot, these emails will be sent directly to the CTL for review.

I have questions about the Turnitin End-User License Agreement. Who should I contact?

The University is currently piloting the Turnitin service. While Turnitin’s account creation process requires that all of its users accept its End-User License Agreement, Turnitin has agreed with the University that its End-User License Agreement will not apply to Yale instructors and students during the University’s evaluation period. You may contact the Office of the General Counsel with any questions.