About the Turnitin Service and Originality Report

Penn State has purchased a license to the Turnitin service and has made it available to all instructors. Instructors may use one or more of the following Turnitin tools for reviewing and grading writing assignments.

  • OriginalityCheck – checks for potential plagiarism
  • GradeMark – comments and rubrics for writing assignments
  • PeerMark – peer critique assignments

Copyright and Privacy of Submissions

Students who are asked to submit papers to Turnitin should be aware of the following:

  • Students retain copyright of all submissions
  • Primary access to the contents of your submissions is restricted to your instructor and select Turnitin support staff. No other individuals are authorized to view contents of a Turnitin course.

Students can request that submissions be removed after an assignment is complete and graded. Requests are normally sent to the ITS Service Desk through your instructor for processing.

Logging in

Your instructor will provide instructions on how to access Turnitin for your course. In many cases, your instructor will provide you a Turnitin course code and password. If you have been given a code and password, you can follow these paper upload instructions.

Originality Check Report and Penn State Policy

Any written work you produce for any Penn State course may be checked for originality through the Penn State Turnitin service as required by your instructor or department. This includes both written assignments for a course and any thesis you may submit as part of your program’s curriculum.

Go to the How OriginalityCheck works to learn more about how the report works. If you have any questions about the criteria your instructor (or thesis adviser) will use to determine if plagiarism has occurred, we recommend sending questions when an assignment is first given out.

Syllabus Statement

Penn State Senate Policy 43-00  requires faculty to include a statement in the syllabus for each course addressing academic integrity so you will know exactly what is expected of you in each class. You may want to ask your instructor about policy specifics if you are concerned about any issues.

Plagiarism Avoidance Tutorials

An important part of your education at Penn State involves learning to write with appropriate source and to correctly cite the sources you use. The following resources are available to help you understand the writing process and issues involved.

Note: If Turnitin is being used as part of your course, your instructor will provide specific information about how Turnitin will be used in your course and what will be required of you.

Policy for Colleges and Campuses

Academic integrity is an essential component of any educational community. Having academic integrity means being honest about where you get information for your written assignments and giving credit for ideas and text that you copy.

Penn State takes violations of the University Code of Conduct related to Academic Integrity very seriously. As a result, academic misconduct procedures have been developed for how allegations of academic dishonesty are to be handled including sanctioning. You can refer to a list of academic integirity policies by college and campus to learn more about how your college or campus handles sanctions.

Here are some additional resources on Penn State academic integrity policy: 

How OriginalityCheck works

Electronic versions of written works are submitted to Turnitin, which in turn produces an Originality Report. This report shows the instructor the results of Turnitin’s comparison of the written work to contents in its database.

Turnitin Database

The Turnitin database includes documents from these sources

  • Previous student assignments
  • Textbook documents
  • Homework helper and tutorial sites
  • Journal articles accessed through library databases
  • Digital reference collections
  • Documents posted publically on the Internet including Wikipedia
  • English and non-English content

Similarity Score

Each paper submitted receives what is called a Similarity Score in terms of a percentage. The higher the Similarity Score, the more content from other sources the Turnitin search has identified.

Note that the range of similarity scores can vary widely between assignments. An assignment which is somewhat formulaic may higher similarity score than one in which complete originality is expected. Please ask your instructor what is expected of you in terms of originality.


The Originality Report also highlights matched passages and identifies the source of those passages. By default, all matches are shown, even those that were cited properly.

The report allows instructors to view each passage Turnitin has found in its database so that they can make judgements about whether the passage might be an instance of plagiarism or not.

However, even if all passages are properly cited, an instructor may determine that more original content (e.g. original analysis) may need to be included in your paper.

Possible Infraction

If a faculty member believes you have committed plagiarism or another infraction of the University’s Code of Conduct related to Academic Dishonesty, they will schedule a time to meet with you to review the information that has led them to believe a violation occurred, and allow you the opportunity to respond.

Instructors are aware that circumstances can create false positives within a Turnitin report.

If after this meeting the faculty member believes you are responsible for an infraction, that faculty member may pursue further action based on department or college policy. Guidelines for reporting a violation of the Academic Dishonesty section of the Code of Conduct can be found at to http://www.psu.edu/oue/aappm/G-9-academic-integrity.html

Skip to toolbar