What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is a third-party service used as a plagiarism detection tool. The service is paid for by Western and does not cost instructors or students to use. Turnitin can be enabled in OWL's Assignments tool.

What is the purpose of Turnitin?

Turnitin compares student-submitted work to its large collection of published and previously-submitted work to determine the amount of plagiarism. To do so, it generates an "originality report" for each student submission; the report presents instructors with the percentage of unoriginal work contained in the document and links to the potentially plagiarized original work. Turnitin can help detect plagiarism and can assist with academic integrity.

How to use Turnitin

At Western, Turnitin is an option in the Assignments tool in OWL. It can be enabled to check student submissions for possible plagiarism. More information for using Turnitin in OWL can be found in OWL Documentation.

Tool Evaluation

Evaluated: October 2016

Functionality overall rating: 2 starsFunctionality

Scale rating: 3 stars


Turnitin can be scaled to accommodate any size class

Ease of use rating:3 stars

Ease of Use

Turnitin has a user-friendly learner interface that is easy to navigate. When Turnitin is activated, students do not need to engage in additional actions beyond uploading their assignment.

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 3 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

Western technical support/help documentation is readily available. See the the Enabling Turnitin section on the Assignments page in OWL Documentation Wiki or contact the Helpdesk

Hypermediality rating: 2 stars


Turnitin is limited to text-based submissions

Accessibility overall rating: 2 starsAccessibility

AODA Friendly rating: 3 stars

AODA Friendly

Turnitin meets accessibility guidelines (AODA and the W3C WCAG 2.0 standards)

Assistive Technology rating: 2 stars

User-focused participation

Turnitin has some limited capacity to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities

Required Equipment rating: 3 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of Turnitin does not require specialized equipment

Technical overall rating: 3 starsTechnical

Integration/Embedding within OWL rating: 3 stars

Integration/Embedding within OWL

Turnitin is provided within OWL as an option in the Assignments tool

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize Turnitin with any standard, up-to-date operating system (i.e. Windows, OSX, etc.)

Web Browser rating:3 stars

Web Browser

Users can effectively utilize Turnitin with any standard, up-to-date web browser (i.e. Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, etc.)

Additional Technical Requirements rating:3 stars

Additional Technical Requirements

Users do not need to download additional software or browser extensions

Mobile Design overall rating: 1 starMobile Design

Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

Turnitin is accessible in OWL on all mobile devices through a browser. There is no native app for OWL, however you can access OWL through the WesternU app on both android and iOS devices.

Mobile Functionality rating: 3 stars

Mobile Functionality

There is little to no functional difference with Turnitin when accessed on mobile systems

Offline Access rating: 1 star

Offline Access

Turnitin cannot be used in any capacity offline

Usage and account set up overall rating: 2 starsUsage and Account Set Up

Sign Up/Sign In rating: 3 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

Use of Turnitin does not require the creation of an external account or additional login beyond a Western Identity and access to OWL

Cost of Use rating:3 stars

Cost of Use

All aspects of Turnitin can be used free of charge to Western account holders

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 3 stars

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

Turnitin reports are archived within OWL for instructors and students to access

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 2 stars

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data; based on the settings submitted papers are saved to a standard paper repository that serves as the Turnitin database upon which originality is checked.

Social Presence overall rating: 3 starsSocial Presence

Collaboration rating:N/A


As a plagiarism detection tool, Turnitin does not support communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between students

User Accountability rating: 3 stars

User Accountability

Instructors can control student anonymity; Turnitin provides technical solutions for holding students accountable for their actions

Diffusion rating: 3 stars


Turnitin is widely known and popular, it’s likely that most students are familiar with the tool and have basic technical competence with it

Instructor Presence overall rating: 3 starsInstructor Presence

Facilitation rating: 3 stars


Turnitin has easy-to-use features that would significantly improve an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement

Customization rating: 3 stars


Various settings can be customized (i.e. when originality reports are produced, whether or not reports are shared with students, and what sources the originality of a submission is checked against).

Learning Analytics rating: 3 stars

Learning Analytics

Turnitin aids instructors in detecting plagiarism by flagging unoriginal work. For each submission, a report is produced that highlights unoriginal work and identifies possible sources.

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 2 starsCognitive Presence

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating: 3 stars

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

Turnitin enhances engagement in targeted cognitive task(s) that were once overly complex or inconceivable through other means. For instructors, Turnitin enhances the ability to engage in identification of plagiarism. For students, Turnitin enhances an ability to better consider academic integrity.

Higher Order Thinking rating: 2 star

Higher Order Thinking

If used to teach students skills for practicing academic integrity, Turnitin may support engagement in higher order thinking skills

Feedback on Learning rating:2 stars

Feedback on Learning

Given students are allowed to view the TurinItIn report, students receive feedback on the originality of their work. However, once the report is produced students are not able edit their submission and resubmit.

View the rubric for an explanation of this evaluation
Leave feedback to comment or request that the tool be re-reviewed

Related Information

Additional Resources

  • For more information about using Turnitin in OWL, visit the OWL Documentation site.