Turnitin - Getting Started

Turnitin is a similarity and originality review tool that lets you review student submissions and determine if they have correctly sourced and used others’ work. Turnitin is often referred to as a plagiarism detection tool, however it is more accurate to say that Turnitin can help instructors identify instances and evidence of plagiarism by identifying content which has not been authored directly by the student.

Instructor Considerations

  • Instructors must make it clear in the syllabus if Turnitin will be used to check originality of student work. Turnitin can aid in the process of identifying possible academic misconduct, but ultimately only an instructor can determine if a particular event warrants additional investigation based on the context for a particular assignment and other course policies. 

  • Instructors who do not have the use of Turnitin clearly stated in their syllabus in any assignment at the beginning of the semester cannot mandate its use on assignment later in the semester. 

  • Turnitin does not have to be used for every assignment. Instructors can choose to use Turnitin on an assignment-by-assignment basis.

  • Turnitin has a low barrier for student use, student’s only need to click the End User License Agreement each time they submit using Turnitin

  • Canvas assignments which use Turnitin require that students agree to the Turnitin End User License Agreement allowing for the student submission to be checked for originality via Turnitin. 

  • We recommended that instructors make the originality reports available for particular assignments available to students.

Using Turnitin for the First Time

  • Turnitin can be enabled for Canvas assignments by selecting it in the particular assignment’s settings (near the section labeled “Plagiarism Review).” 

  • When you are ready to set up an assignment using Turnitin in Canvas, please see this Configuring Turnitin document.

  • Turnitin is a teaching and learning tool centrally supported by the Learn@UW-Madison team. For technical support questions, instructors should contact the DoIT Help Desk

Tool Functionality

Basic Functionality

  • Turnitin is designed for assignments built in the Canvas learning management system (LMS), particularly with Canvas Assignments which use text entry or file submission. 

  • After creating a Canvas Assignment, an instructor can enable Turnitin for that assignment by selecting Turnitin from the drop down box in the “Plagiarism Review” section of that assignment’s settings. 

  • After selecting Turnitin the instructor is given the option to select from a number of different settings determining where (or if) the student’s submission will be stored within a repository, what kinds of content to check the submission against, and several other related settings.

    • Papers submitted to the Standard repository will be held by Turnitin. All Turnitin customers can check student submissions against others in the standard repository.

    • Papers submitted to the Institutional repository will apply only at UW-Madison.

    • Do not store submitted papers allows instructors to compare student submissions against Turnitin’s standard repository (which includes articles, encyclopedias, and other works) without submitting their students' work to the repository.

  • Originality reports for student submissions are generated quickly after a student submits an assignment submission, typically within a few minutes. Those reports are then viewable through Turnitin feedback studio which can be accessed via Canvas Speedgrader.

  • For more details on interpreting a similarity report and other features in Turnitin Feedback 

  • Studio, please refer to Turnitin’s documentation.

Advanced Functionality

  • Users can also use Turnitin via Turnitin.com on request. This can allow users to bulk upload submissions to Turnitin if necessary. If you are interested in using Turnitin this way, please contact the DoIT Help Desk to request an account.

Additional Training Resources


Canvas Tech Modules

  • These modules, developed by DoIT Academic Technology's Learn@UW-Madison team, are designed to help instructors introduce centrally supported learning technologies to their students. For more information, see Canvas - Student Tech Modules in Canvas Commons

  • A Turnitin Student Tech Module template can be imported and modified in Canvas by instructors to communicate to students regarding the use of Turnitin.

Best Practices and Use Cases

  • Communicate with students:

    • Which features of Turnitin you are using 

    • For which assessments 

    • Why you chose to use Turnitin

  • Allow multiple submissions on assignments and allow students to view originality reports for their submissions to help them identify improperly cited quotations and other mistakes before making a final submission. 

  • If you’re using Turnitin in a course that will be taught over multiple semester, consider having submissions added to a Turnitin repository, to ensure that new submissions are original.

  • You can also set up ungraded practice assignments for students to experience Turnitin. Be sure to configure this assignment so that submissions are not stored in any repository.


  • UW-Madison has an institutional license for Turnitin for for-credit uses. Turnitin is free to UW-Madison students, staff and faculty.

Student Data Privacy and Transparency statement

Student Data Privacy and Transparency statement

UW-Madison operates a number of central IT systems and services that support teaching and learning. All of these systems collect, record and generate data related to student learning activities. For more information, please refer to the UW-Madison Teaching and Learning Data Transparency Statement

Keywords:turnitin getting started   Doc ID:116944
Owner:Andrew M.Group:Learn@UW-Madison
Created:2022-02-23 12:05 CDTUpdated:2022-09-08 11:17 CDT
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, Learn@UW-Madison
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