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Turnitin: Interpreting Your Results

After submitting a paper, Turnitin may take up to 30 minutes to generate a report. When you see a number next to the assignment, click it to open the originality report.                        


How to Interpret the Similarity Score

Whether you are using Turnitin as an educational tool or to check for plagiarism, it is imperative to understand how to interpret the results. The similarity number is NOT necessarily a percentage of plagiarized material. It may all be quoted and cited correctly. All this number does is indicate how much of the paper matched an outside source.

  • Blue means no matching text. The paper is likely all original writing. This is good, but are claims backed up sufficiently with research?
  • Green means less than 24% of the paper matched an outside source. This is ideal if sources are integrated well and cited correctly.
  • Yellow means 25% - 49% of the paper matched an outside source. If there is no plagiarism, this paper would likely benefit from more paraphrasing and analysis.
  • Orange means 50% - 74% of the paper matched an outside source. This is not good and needs significant revision whether or not plagiarism has taken place.
  • Red means 75% - 100% of the paper matched an outside source. If you see this, first make sure the paper is not matching up with an earlier version of the same paper that got added to the Turnitin repository. Then check to see if the paper came from just one or two sources. Are they cited correctly or is it plagiarized? When there are many sources, these papers can look like a string of quotes with little to no original analysis. This is not acceptable student work at any level.

How to Interpret the Report

Regardless of the similarity index, you will need to analyze the report to determine whether the student plagiarized. If the reference list is very long, you can exclude it as well as short phrases to bring the number down. Below the similarity number will be all the sources to which parts of the paper matched. There is a number next to each which tells you how much of the paper came from that source.


Some notes about the originality report:

  • The source which Turnitin matches may not be the original source. The quote above was pulled directly from Turnitin's User Guides, but it matched to a student paper which used the same quote.
  • For confidentiality purposes, you cannot view student papers other than your own. The only information you will see about student paper matches is the university through which it was submitted.
  • If the number seems excessively high, click the filter icon and see if you can exclude short phrases and references.

For an in-depth look into the different features, please watch the three short videos in the right hand column.

Need more help?

For more help and answers to FAQ, you can visit Turnitin's guides for viewing, manipulating and interpreting results:

Viewing the Similarity Report

Interpreting The Similarity Report