Developing academic writing using Turnitin

Developing academic writing using Turnitin

Team members: Simon Beames, Amy Burge, Anna Groundwater, Stuart Nicol, Robert Chmielewski, Sharon Boyd, Jessie Paterson


The use of Turnitin or similar text-matching software by universities has hugely increased over the past few years. Indeed, 99% of all UK universities use Turnitin. During the 2013-14 academic year at the University of Edinburgh, 122,290 assignments were submitted through Turnitin. From these papers, 118,689 originality reports were generated. Most students are aware that the software is able to generate an Originality Report that indicates the degree to which their essay has exact text matches with papers held in Turn-tin’s 45 billion item database. It appears, however, that few students are aware of, and profit from, Turnitin’s capacity to help them improve their academic writing skills.

The aim of this project is to create a free learning resource that will help all UoE students to use Turnitin as a means to improving their academic writing skills. Training students in how to interpret originality reports produced for their work can highlight where improvements might need to be made in paraphrasing, summarising, synthesising, quoting, citing, and referencing. It is anticipated that encouraging students to submit draft work for formative purposes will shift students’ perceived purpose of the software from a plagiarism-detecting tool that exists principally to ‘catch them out’, towards one they can employ to increase the standard of their academic discourse.

Final Project Report and outputs

Final Project Report (PDF)

Developing academic writing with Turnitin (short guide, 6 pages, PDF)

Developing academic writing with Turnitin (full guide, 19 pages, PDF)