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Anti-Plagiarism (Turnitin)


On July 5, 2018 the DVC’s (Academic) Office released a memo announcing the immediate adoption of TurnItIn as the new tool to detect plagiarism at the University of Otago. TurnItIn will run alongside SafeAssign in Blackboard until a review at the end of the year.

Turnitin is now available on Moodle.


Memo: Introduction to Turnitin

Sent on behalf of Professor Vernon Squire, DVC (Academic) – July 5, 2018

Concern over the performance of SafeAssign has prompted the University to introduce turnitin, which is the industry standard in detecting plagiarism. It is used in every other University in New Zealand and almost all universities in Australia. Testing here at the University has shown it to be a very effective tool that is straightforward to use. ITS has moved quickly to implement turnitin and it is now available in Blackboard for all staff to use in their Semester 2 papers. We also expect turnitin to be available shortly to Moodle users.

SafeAssign will continue to be available and staff may continue to use that if they wish, though there are concerns over its effectiveness. turnitin will be reviewed at the end of this year to ensure it is fit for purpose. Depending on the outcome of that review it is likely that SafeAssign will not be available to staff or students in 2019.

Please remember it will be necessary for all departments using turnitin to update their websites and course outlines to replace any reference to SafeAssign.

The two platforms are broadly similar in their purpose but they necessarily differ in their operation. turnitin has greater functionality than SafeAssign and improved effectiveness. There will be a learning curve for staff as they adjust to the new software. I thank all staff for their patience as everyone works through the teething issues and new requirements that will be part of the transition from one program to another.

To make that transition as easy as possible IT Training and Development will be offering training in how to useturnitin. The first training session takes place at 1pm tomorrow, Friday 6 July, at 1pm in Archway 2. Further training sessions are also available. Information can be found here:

ITS has also added webpages to its Blackboard Helpsite for Staff to give guidance on turnitin. They can be found here:

turnitin has its own set of Blackboard help pages that can be found here:

I would be grateful if all staff could make use of those pages in the first instance rather than rely on support staff for guidance. However, if staff need personal assistance they can direct enquiries through the ITS Service, 03 479 8888.

As with SafeAssign, turnitin will generate a report that carries a percentage figure of material similar to that already available on the Internet or in other sources such as journal articles. It is important to be aware that a low percentage does not necessarily mean no cause for concern. It may be necessary to look at each report to check the passages that have been flagged. Turnitin also has capacity to mark an assignment online. As before, suspected cases of plagiarism may continue to be flagged when staff recognise text with which they are very familiar. Text-matching software like turnitin is not the only mechanism we have for detecting plagiarism.

I am confident that turnitin will serve us well as we continue to maintain the academic excellence and integrity of the University.

Thank you for your effort and patience as we make the transition.
Professor Vernon Squire

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