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Referencing and Plagiarism



On this page, we will discuss strategies to ensure you are writing your own work using the following tools and techniques:

  • What is TurnItIn?
  • Misconceptions about TurnItIn
  • Similarity Report 
  • Review 
  • Next steps


Submitted assignments are uploaded to TurnItIn.
TurnItIn compares assignments to others in its database for similarities.
These similarities are presented to the learner and marker in a ‘similarity report’. 

What is TurnItIn?

Turnitin or Tii is a tool that supports staff and students in identifying one aspect of plagiarism (text that matches another piece of work). Through the Similarity Report, Tii attempts to match students' work against a database or catalogue of papers, journals, books and websites. The Similarity Report helps students and academics observe the use of referencing, the presentation and acknowledgement of scholarly work (e.g., paraphrased), and the use of spelling and grammar in written submissions.

Misconceptions about TurnItIn

Here are some concerns/misconceptions that students may have about TurnItIn:

  • The sole aim of using TurnItIn is to identify ‘cheats’.
  • The similarity score determines if the student has cheated.
  • That there is an acceptable level of plagiarism, represented by a percentage score:
    1. That a low score indicates that students have not plagiarised.
    2. A high score means that students have plagiarised.

The role of the percentage score, for example, could encourage students to cut out important pieces of work in the hope of reducing percentages, instead of understanding how to reference cited text or paraphrase it. 

Similarity Report

When you submit an assignment at the University of Suffolk, it will be run through the TurnItIn system, which supports staff and students in checking for plagiarism. In doing so, it will generate a 'similarity report' that gauges how similar it is to previous submissions via Turnitin. Normally this is just seen by your lecturers however you will be able to submit a draft submission where you can see this score for yourself. To help you understand this process, we recommend visiting and reviewing the following two guides:


  • TurnItin helps us understand the use of text that we have copied in essays: have we ensured that it is referenced? Do we need to paraphrase?
  • TurnItIn can help us check proofread our referencing.
  • TurnItIn helps us ensure we respect one aspect of academic integrity: that we acknowledge other people's work in our assignments.

We hope this overview has demonstrated the role of TurnItIn and how the use of academic skills such as paraphrasing, referencing, proofreading and editing can help us avoid the direct copy of someone else's work without acknowledging it's their work in our assignments.

Perhaps you would like to practice some of these academic skills?

We hope the below guidance will be of help:

Remember, our Academic Skills Advisors can provide support in these areas through a one-to-one appointment or during our workshops