Interpreting the Turnitin Similarity Report

The Turnitin Similarity Score is always a contentious issue. What is the ‘right’ percentage? Is a high percentage always bad and what about a low score, does it automatically mean there are no issues with the paper? Of course, we know that there is no magic number and that careful and thorough examination of the report is the best approach.

What guidance do you offer your students on interpreting the report, to help them to think beyond the percentage? Share your approaches to using the report as a learning tool to help identify issues and offer feedback to students on developing their literacy skills.

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  • In using similarity scores it is always about the education.  I ask students to consider why the match has occurred, is it a quote? if so have the referenced it properly or would they better demonstrate their knowledge by paraphrasing it?

    Often the problems are underpinned by the student not sufficiently understanding the concept to be able to say/write  it in their own words. Hence our discussion is never about the number and always about the pattern of the match or a phrase and use of certain words which may have been machine generated.


      • Gill Rowell
      • Advocacy & Thought Leadership Specialist, Turnitin
      • Gill_Rowell
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Great points as always Lynn! The Similarity Report (and this is what I used to always say when I used to provide training on using Turnitin) is such a great tool for really opening up a dialogue with students about a whole load of key issues around good scholarship, like information literacy, or "fake news", referencing and citation and how to use and assimilate sources into your work appropriately.

      Do others agree and use a similar approach in their institutions?

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