Getting started with Authorship Investigation

Authorship Investigate is an application hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS). If you are a current Turnitin customer, it is separate from your current use of Turnitin.

Authorship Investigate was designed to combat the rise in contract cheating by providing academic integrity officers, student conduct officers, or whoever conducts additional investigations into severe cases of academic misconduct with an evidence gathering tool.

This guide will cover the key information that you need to know about Authorship Investigate and help you get started using Authorship Investigate at your institution.

What does Authorship Investigate do?

Authorship Investigate automates many of the manual workflows that investigators of serious academic misconduct spend hours performing. Tedious tasks like collecting document sets for the investigation, trawling document metadata, and creating the misconduct investigation report are now streamlined.

Authorship Investigate also provides new evidence about a student’s writing over time that can be used to confirm suspicions of a possible misconduct violation. This evidence is provided in an Authorship Report that is generated by either manually uploading files to compare against each other, or by entering a Turnitin paper ID and selecting from a list of the students past work which files you would like to compare against.

Authorship Investigate does not identify contract cheating. It takes human judgment to determine whether contract cheating has occurred based on the balance of probabilities.

Accessing your account

The initial administrator assigned to the account will receive an activation email. This email will prompt you to create a username and password. You can use these credentials to log in to the Authorship Investigate tool.

There are two main areas: the sidebar and the main content area.

The sidebar is where you can manage users and licenses, and modify your settings.

From the main content area, you can launch the Authorship Investigate tool. You will can also find links to Authorship Investigate documentation, as well as a link to the community forum where you can connect with other Authorship Investigate users.

Managing users

There are three user roles:

  • Administrator
  • Investigator
  • User

It is very important to understand the level of access for each user. We are aware that institutions often have certain levels of authority for who has access to student work across many courses, departments, and schools. See the table below for a breakdown of the permissions for each role.

User type Permissions

User management

Submission ID

File upload

Student document download


Submission ID

File upload

Student document download

User File upload

The submission ID upload allows an administrator or investigator to use a Turnitin paper ID to compare that file against the most recently submitted documents to Turnitin by the student under investigation. This may, and most likely will, contain papers from different courses and departments. Make sure that the individuals you assign administrator or investigator user types to have the permission to access student work across many courses and departments.

You can always change a user’s role after they have been added to an account.

To being adding users, check out the guidance.

Creating an Authorship Report

As an administrator, you will be able to create Authorship Report with full permissions. There are two ways that you can generate an Authorship Report; by using a Turnitin paper ID or by file upload.

To use a Turnitin paper ID to generate the report, select this option and then enter in the Turnitin paper ID of the submission you would like to investigate for authorship. Turnitin paper IDs are created when papers are submitted to Turnitin. The ID can be found in the Turnitin assignment inbox, digital receipt, or paper information within Similarity Reports.

If you enter a valid Turnitin paper ID we will find the file and display the file information. If you are happy with this file, we will find up to 100 of the most recent submissions that file owner has made. Using checkboxes, you can select or deselect the files you'd like to compare.

Alternatively, you can upload files from your device for investigation.

You can choose one investigation file and up to ten comparison files. The comparison documents must be authored by the same individual; this will provide the benchmark of various features that help define authorship.

For more in depth guidance on report creation, check out our guidance.

The Authorship Report

From the My Reports page, select the title of the report to open it.

The report is broken down into five sections:

  • Report Summary
  • File Details
  • Readability
  • Document Information
  • Sentence
  • Vocabulary

The Report Summary contains the investigation filename and will provide an investigation recommendation and summary based on results of the report. The summary contains the body of evidence that the report has used to make its recommendation. The summary will pull in results from four sections; Readability, Document Information, Sentences, and Vocabulary. If one or more of these sections contains discrepancies to suggest contract cheating has potentially taken place, the section will contain a flag to draw attention to it and a brief summary of the evidence found.

For an in depth breakdown of the Authorship Report and help interpreting the results, you can access more in-depth guidance from within the report.

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