Manuals, Tutorials, and More

Home > Manuals and Guides > Student > Student User Manual > Originality Check

Originality Check

Papers submitted to Turnitin may be compared against billions of internet documents, archived internet data that is no longer available on the live web, a local repository of previously submitted papers, and subscription repository of periodicals, journals, and publications. The comparison may be against any or all of these repositories as set on a specific assignment by the instructor of the class. 

The comparison document is called an Originality Report. This document details the matching or similar text between a submission made on Turnitin and the documents the submission was compared against. This document is listed in the instructor’s view of the class assignment inbox.

At the discretion of the instructor, student users may be able to view the Originality Reports for their own submissions on Turnitin. This is a preference that is selected on an assignment by assignment basis and may be updated at any time by the instructor. Only the instructor can change this setting.

Note: If Not Available appears under the Similarity column for the assignment, then Originality Reports are not available to student users in this assignment. Students wishing to view or receive a copy of the Originality Report for their submissions must contact the instructor. The determination of authorizing access to this information is in the hands of the instructor and institution.


Originality Reports


The Originality Report provides a summary of matching or similar areas of text found in a submitted paper. When an Originality Report is available to be viewed an icon is placed in the Similarity column of the student class portfolio page. Originality Reports that have not finished generating will display the text processing within the Similarity column of the student class portfolio page. 

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

The Originality Report icon shows a percentage and a corresponding color indicating on an index where this percentage falls in terms of matching content. This percentage is the Similarity Index. 


The higher the percentage, the greater the amount of text in the submission that came up as matching against information in Turnitin’s repositories. The percentage range runs from 0% to 100%. The percentage is generated by the amount of similar or matching text compared to the number of words in the submission in total.

The paper shown in the Originality Report is fully formatted and contains any images and graphs included in the original document. 

Interpreting the Similarity Report


Turnitin does not check for plagiarism in a piece of work. Instead, we will check your work against our database, and if there are instances where your writing is similar to, or matches against, one of our sources, we will flag this for your instructor 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 you have used quotes and have referenced correctly, there will be instances where we will find a match. The Similarity Score Index (SSI) simply makes your instructor aware of any problem areas in your paper; they will then use this as a tool as part of a larger process, in order to determine if the match is or is not acceptable.

Similarity Index Examples 

Edit section

As an example, you may have submitted a paper to Turnitin in the past. If you included your name in that submission, it is entirely possible that, if your instructor has opted not to exclude small matches, this will be highlighted in your Similarity Report. 


Another example may concern a student copying and pasting a chunk of text into their paper, due to a lack of knowledge on the topic they are covering. Their Similarity Index might be 10%.


However, this might be compared to another student who has a firm basis of knowledge for the paper and knows enough to gather information from several sources to quote and reference correctly. Their Similarity Index might be 12%.


Both students will be shown to have matches against our database. However, one of these students copied directly from a website, whereas the other provided properly sourced quotes.


Turnitin empowers your instructor by giving them the tools to differentiate between matches. It also empowers you, as a student, by knowing that your work will be seen through the correct lens. You can find more information about citing the sources you have used here:

Similarity Index


The color of the report icon is linked to one of five tiers of the Similarity Index. This is based on the amount of matching text found by the repository comparison. The possible similarity index percentage ranges are linked to a corresponding color:


  • blue (no matching words)
  • green (one matching word - 24% similarity index)
  • yellow (25-49% similarity index)
  • orange (50-74% similarity index)
  • red (75-100% similarity index)

The overall similarity index and the corresponding color scaling of the icons provides a basic indication of how much information contained in a specific submission is matched to other sources in the Turnitin repository. This number is a raw amount of matching done against the repositories selected for the assignment the submission was made to. Direct quotation, citations, or bibliography areas of the paper are not automatically excluded. The decision to permanently exclude or disregard matches to these types of text in a paper is made solely by the instructor of the class.

Warning: These indices in no way reflect Turnitin’s assessment of whether a paper contains plagiarized material or improperly used material. The Originality Report provides instructors with a tool to more easily locate matching or similar text within the text of a submitted work. The determination and adjudication of proper citation and plagiarism are left solely to the instructor and institution to which the work was submitted. Any questions regarding the definition of plagiarism used at your institution should be directed to the instructor of the class or an appropriate institutional staff member.

Opening the Originality Report


Originality Reports are typically completed within ten to fifteen minutes of submissions. This report generation time may vary based on the extreme levels of usage that may occur during certain periods of the academic year or due to very large submissions. 

If the Originality Report viewing preference is set by the instructor to allow students to access the reports, the Originality Report icon will allow the user to open the report.


Viewing Originality Reports


The Originality Report can be viewed in one of four modes. These modes allow users to view and sort the information contained in the Originality Report in ways better suited to their needs. The four viewing modes for an Originality Report are: 


  • Match Overview (show highest matches together): A list of all areas of the paper which have similarity to information in the Turnitin repository. Matches are color coded and listed from highest to lowest percentage of matching word area to the submission. Only the top or best matches are shown, all underlying matches are visible in the Match Breakdown and All Sources modes


  • All Sources: Allows a user to view matches between the paper and a specific selected source in the Turnitin repositories. Contains a full list of all matches found rather than the best matches per area of similarity. This listing is exhaustive but will show all matches found, including any that are obscured in the Match Overview by virtue of being in the same or similar areas as other, better matches


  • Match Breakdown: Displays matches that are obscured by a top source. Allows instructors to compare the match instance of a underlying source with the match instance for a top source


  • Direct Source Comparison: An in depth view that shows an area of similarity compared side by side with a specific match from the Turnitin repositories. Not available on all types of repository matches

Originality Report Contents


The Originality Report is separated into three main areas: 


  • document viewer frame - shows the Similarity Index for the report and the title and author of the paper


  • paper text - the submitted paper text in its original formatting. Matching text is highlighted in a color that corresponds to the matching source listed on the right side of the Originality Report


  • matching sources/sidebar - the list of matching sources for the highlighted areas of the paper text to the left. The sidebar also displays the Filter and Settings (exclusion options)


Paper Information


The paper information can be viewed by clicking on the information icon at the bottom left of the document viewer. 



The paper information contains: the submission id, the date the paper was processed, the word count, the character count, the number of submissions to the assignment, the overall similarity index, and the three repository indices.

Direct Source Comparison


Direct Source Comparison, allows a user to quickly compare matching text to the source of the match in the Turnitin repositories. Matches to other student papers are not available for Direct Source Comparison viewing unless the students are enrolled in your class. Using Direct Source Comparison can be done from the Match Overview or the All Sources view mode of the Originality Report.

Users can either view the Direct Source Comparison as a glimpse within the paper or as the Full Source Text within the sidebar. The glimpse only provides the matching text within context of a few outlying sentences from the source while the Full Source Text loads in the sidebar and contains the full text of the source and all the match instances.


1. Open an Originality Report



2. Click on a highlighted area of text on the left hand (student paper) side



3. A pop-up window will appear above the highlighted text displaying the matching text within the source of the match



4. (Optional) Clicking on the url link, available on live internet matches, brings up a view of the live web site within a new browser tab or window




5a. Click on the “x” in the top right corner of the pop-up to close the window



5b. To view the matching text within the full source click on the Expand to Full Text link



6. The Full Source Text view of the source will load into the sidebar



7. If there are multiple matches to this source, click on the arrow icons to quickly navigate through the match instances



8. To exit the Full Source Text View click on the “X” button


Repository Sources


Turnitin utilizes multiple types of repository in the generation of the Originality 
Reports. There are currently three types of repository:


  • internet repository - billions of active and archived web pages from the internet. Internet sources indicate a date of download on the Turnitin Originality Report if the match is not found on the most recent download of content from this site
  • periodicals - a repository of frequently updated content from professional journals, periodicals, and publications
  • student paper repository - a repository of papers previously submitted by Turnitin users
  • institution paper repository - a collection of papers submitted to the institution’s repository


Note: If an area of submission text is matched to a source in the student paper repository on Turnitin, it will be listed as student papers. Direct Source Comparison is not available to students for student paper matches.

Excluding Quoted or Bibliographic Material


If quoted or bibliographic material is flagged as similar or matching, this information can be removed from the Originality Report. Students are only able to remove quoted or bibliographic material for the duration of the current view of the report. Permanent exclusion of this information must be handled by the instructor. 

Please note that the functions for excluding material are approximate and human judgement is the final arbiter for proper quotation or bibliographic reference. Cited material cannot be excluded directly, and quotations can only be excluded if block-indentation or direct quotation marks (“”) begin and end the quotation. 



1. Open an Originality Report



2. Click on the Filter and Settings icon



3. To exclude Quoted or Bibliographic material click the check box next to the Exclude Quotes and Exclude Bibliography exclusion options



4. Click on the Apply Changes button to save the settings


Excluding Small Matches


Users have the ability to exclude small matches by either word count or by percentage. To exclude small matches within an Originality Report click on the Filter and Settings icon below the sidebar.



The sidebar will load with the exclusion options. Below the Exclude matches that are less than: option enter into either the words or % fields the numerical value for small matches that will be excluded from this Originality Report. To turn off excluding small matches click on the radio button next to Don’t exclude by size. To save the settings click on the Apply Changes button at the bottom of the sidebar. This feature can be adjusted at any time. 

When a student closes an Originality Report after using the exclude small matches option the Originality Report will return to the assignment’s default setting for excluding small matches and the students changes will not be saved.



Downloading Reports and Digital Receipts


The Originality Report or digital receipt can be downloaded to the user’s computer for later reference.

To print/download a report, click on the print icon at the bottom of the Originality Report. This will prepare a readable, PDF version of the Originality Report or digital receipt. When downloading a repot, the downloaded version created is based on the current view of Originality Report. For example, clicking the download icon while using the default Match Overview will create a PDF of only the highest matches.



Once a PDF version of the report or digital receipt has been saved to your computer, you may then use your computer’s default PDF viewing application to print the Originality Report/digital receipt. The downloaded version will no longer have any of the Direct Source Comparison capability and will not be able to show side by side comparisons. The view modes of a downloaded report are not available in the PDF document.

Training Video

Viewing an Originality Report


Get Adobe Flash player

You must to post a comment.
Last modified
14:19, 11 Jan 2016



(not set)