Interpreting the Similarity Report

Turnitin does not check for plagiarism in a piece of work. Instead, we will check a student's work against our database, and if there are instances where a student's writing is similar to, or matches against, one of our sources, we will flag this for you to review. Our database includes billions of web pages: both current and archived content from the internet, a repository of works students have submitted to Turnitin in the past, and a collection of documents, which comprises thousands of periodicals, journals, and publications.

It is perfectly natural for an assignment to match against some of our database. If a student has used quotes and has referenced correctly, there will be instances where we will find a match. The similarity score simply highlights of any problem areas in a student's paper; you can then use this as an investigative tool, in order to determine if the match is or is not acceptable.

Similarity Reports provide a summary of matching or highly similar text found in a submitted paper. When a Similarity Report is available for viewing, a similarity score percentage will be made available. Similarity Reports that have not yet finished generating are represented by a grayed out icon in the Similarity column. Reports that are not available may not have generated yet, or assignment settings may be delaying the generation of the report.

Overwritten or resubmitted papers may not generate a new Similarity Report for a full 24 hours. This delay is automatic and allows resubmissions to correctly generate without matching to the previous draft.

The color of the report icon indicates the similarity score of the paper, based on the amount of matching or similar text that was uncovered. The percentage range is 0% to 100%. The possible similarity ranges are:

  • Blue: No matching text
  • Green: One word to 24% matching text
  • Yellow: 25-49% matching text
  • Orange: 50-74% matching text
  • Red: 75-100% matching text

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