Create a Turnitin assignment

What is it?

An assessment with similarity checking is a way to compare a student’s submitted assessment against a database of other papers and journals to detect for similarity.

What does it do?

It is recommended that by default, Turnitin is used as the method of assessment submission with similarity checking, however, Turnitin may be unsuitable for some submissions (e.g. group submissions where there is a single submission for a group of students).

  • Detect similarities between papers
  • Receive a similarity score

What should I know?

Step 1: Create your Turnitin assignment by selecting the plus icon on your module content and select External Apps from the menu.

Screenshot of the course content page in a module. The plus sign to create content is open, and the menu item for Content and Tools is highlighted.

Step 2: Select Turnitin: Create assignment in Ultra from the list.

Screenshot of the Content and Tools menu with the Turnitin button highlighted.

Step 3: Create your assignment. You will need to enter a title, maximum points, the start date (when the assignment will be visible to your students), due date, and feedback release date (when the feedback and marks will be made visible to your students – note this is only half of the ‘posting marks’ workflow).

Screenshot of the page to create a Turnitin assignment. The link for 'Optional settings' has a circle around it.

Assignment Settings:

Assignment Details

Title: Name the assignment something clear and descriptive.

Instructions: You can use the instructions for information specific to this assignment (e.g. if you want students to use their matric numbers as the name of the work when they upload it)

Max Grade: If you are using the 23 point alphanumeric scale, then put 23 in. If you are using Turnitin for formative work, or dissertation similarity checking, then you may wish to use 0.

Dates: The start date is when students can start to submit work (prior to that, they will see inactive by a dropbox) Due time should be noon. Feedback release date should be three weeks after the due date, for work that is being formally marked.

Remember that once the feedback has been released, there’s no way to change this date to one in the future.

Submission settings

Submit papers to: Normally, leave as set. However, if you are doing formative work and intend to have a different dropbox for the final submission, then change the top from standard to no repository. (That avoids students apparently having plagiarised themselves)

Screenshot of assignment settings in Turnitin with 'Allow Late submissions' and 'enable anonymous marking' selected

You can use the tick boxes below this to:

  • Allow submissions of any file type – This should only be selected if you do not want to use Turnitin for similarity checking – but use it just for marking/feedback. In most cases, you will probably find Blackboard’s submission tool more suited to non-text assessments.
  • Allow late submissions – in most cases, students should be allowed to submit late. All late submissions will appear red in the submission in box.
  • Enable anonymous marking – the university guidelines state that where practical, work should be marked anonymously, though there are exceptions (e.g. reflections on teaching practice, final projects etc), and formative work may not be anonymous.
  • Attach a rubric – if you use a rubric or grading form in your marking, you can attach it at the point of creating the submission. This allows students to see the rubric before they upload the work, so that they can check they have met all the requirements of the assignment. If you do not want students to see the rubric pre-submission, you can add it at the start of marking.
Compare against

Leave the compare against settings to select all (should be set as default).

Screenshot of the Compare Against section of Turnitin with all items selected

Similarity Report

Generate Similarity Reports for student submission:  This refers to the similarity report.  Ideally, this should be set to “generate reports immediately (students can resubmit until due date)”. This setting, combined with allowing students to see the originality reports, enables them to use it for formative self-help feedback.

Allow students to view Similarity Reports: This should be selected by default. If you do not want your students to see their similarity reports, please inform them of this.

Exclusions: Leave all as shown (these should be the defaults). Both staff and students (if they can see the similarity reports) can adjust reports to see the impact including/excluding the quotes etc., makes.

Additional settings/Save these settings for future use: We recommend selecting this if you will be using the same settings frequently.

Screenshot of Turnitin Similarity Report section with 'allow students to view similarity reports' and 'save these settings' selected

Exclude assignment template

In the Optional settings area of the set-up, you can find a section for Exclude assignment template. You can either upload a file or add text directly by using the ‘Create Custom Template’ button.

Screenshot of the Exclude assignment Template section in Settings for Turnitin. Includes a button for 'Upload Template' and one for 'Create Custom Template'.

We strongly suggest that you use the Upload Template button to upload a file (.docx or PDF are recommended). You can add text directly in the custom template, but our testing showed that this wasn’t as consistent in excluding all of the content from the template.

Always pay attention to the total score of a similarity report! We used a template that includes a table for students to enter standard information such as user ID, module code, and module title. When we used this, we were able to add a new row in the table and add text in this row. The content in this row was not included in the similarity report – the exclusion tool assumed anything in the table ought to be included.

You can only add, edit, or remove the template before students submit files. Once any student has submitted work to the submission point, you cannot make any changes to this setting.

However, as always, you can adjust the exclusions in the Feedback Studio. To remove the template, go to the exclusion tab. Toggle off the option to Exclude Assignment Template and click Apply changes.

Screenshot of the Feedback Studio with the exclusions tab open. There is an arrow at that tab, at the button to turn off template exclusion, and at the apply changes button.

More information.


Creating an assignment

Submission inbox

Similarity Report

Quick Marks


Commenting tools

Updated on 08/03/2022

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