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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


This page explains how the text-matching software Turnitin UK is used by the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. It also explains the implications for students of their work being submitted via this software.

1. Plagiarism and good academic practice: your responsibilities

Students are responsible for ensuring they have read and understood both the University's statement on plagiarism and the Department's plagiarism guidelines, which contain discipline-specific guidance about referencing conventions and good academic practice. If, after reading the guidance, you have any outstanding queries about plagiarism or the Department's use of Turnitin UK you should seek clarification at the earliest opportunity from your Director of Studies or College Tutor.

2. How does Turnitin UK work?

Turnitin UK text-matching software compares submitted work with a vast database of online material and with a 'private' database of previous submissions. The software makes no judgement about whether a student has plagiarised, it simply shows the percentage of the submission that matches other sources and produces an originality report which highlights the text matches and, where possible, displays the matching text and its immediate context. In many cases the software highlights correctly cited references or innocent matches. Therefore, originality reports over a certain threshold will be carefully reviewed by Examiners to determine whether the work does contain plagiarism.

The software is operated by iParadigms Europe Ltd and is widely used in UK universities to match text in work submitted to that in a large database of online sources. Turnitin UK is part of the JISC Plagiarism Advisory Service (JISCPAS). This University is the recognised Data Controller for the data held and processed by, or on behalf of, the service.

3. How is Turnitin UK used in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science?

The Department uses Turnitin UK to blanket screen all student work submitted in Moodle using the Turnitin Assignment tool.

Examiners and Assessors will mark coursework purely on the basis of its academic merit. However, if Turnitin UK detects matches between your work and another source that is higher than 20%, the Senior Examiner (who is also the Academic Integrity Officer) will review the resulting originality report to judge whether the matches are innocent, or whether you have appropriately referenced these matches (if not, this may constitute plagiarism), and/or whether you have made excessive use of material from other sources (which may be poor academic practice). At this point, the Senior Examiner may ask the External Examiner for a further opinion. Depending on the extent and context of the matches, the work may also be referred to the University Proctors for further investigation. In such cases the Turnitin UK originality report may be used as evidence. If any plagiarism is found, marks may be deducted to take account of poor scholarship and any plagiarized sections and in the worst case scenario the degree may be withheld. A written record of the procedures followed in any individual case will be kept by the Senior Examiner.

It should be noted that Turnitin is only one method of checking the originality of your work and Examiners may initiate other standard investigative procedures if they have unresolved queries about the originality of your work, regardless of whether or not Turnitin has substantiated any concerns.

4. Will Turnitin UK affect intellectual property rights or copyright?

Use of Turnitin UK complies with UK Copyright and Data Protection Laws. Submission to Turnitin does not affect your ownership of the work; the copyright and intellectual property of all work remains with the original owner (normally the student, with the exception of some sponsored research projects). Material submitted to Turnitin UK will be identified by examination number, course details and institution; no personal or sensitive data will be transmitted.

Work screened by Turnitin UK will be retained in the Turnitin database for comparison with future submissions; if matches are identified, the full text is not accessible to other institutions, only the matching text. You may request that your work is removed from the Turnitin UK database at the conclusion of the examination process, but this must be done separately for each piece of submitted work. Retaining your work on the database will help to ensure that your work remains protected from future attempts to plagiarise it, will help maintain the integrity of the University's qualifications, and will maximise the effectiveness of the software.

Full details about Turnitin UK and your rights and responsibilities can be found on the University's good academic practice and plagiarism website.