Academic Integrity and the Deterrence and Detection of Plagiarism

PDAD&C #17, 2002-2003

M E M O R A N D U M

TO:   Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs
FROM:   Vivek Goel, Vice-Provost, Faculty
DATE:   October 8, 2002
RE:   Academic Integrity and the Deterrence and Detection of Plagiarism
- Purchase of turnitin.com Site Licence

Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and is treated as such at the University of Toronto under the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. The incidents of plagiarism at universities across North America have worsened with the growth of the Internet. In order to assist instructors in dealing with plagiarism, the University has undertaken the following initiatives:

  1. There are already several very useful web sites at the University that deal extensively with ways to avoid, deter or detect plagiarism. The Office of Teaching Advancement (OTA) will co-ordinate the creation of a roadmap of these sites and will ensure that it is prominently posted and easily accessed from the UofT home pages.
  2. The OTA is working with the Resource Centre for Academic Technology (RCAT) to organize a major public event on plagiarism that will cover best practices for communicating the issues to students, deterring plagiarism, detecting plagiarism and what to do when a student has plagiarized. The event will be held on November 15. All instructors, teaching assistants and students will be invited to the event. The event will be widely publicized on all three campuses, and we ask for your assistance in encouraging members of the University community to attend the event. People will be asked to register for the event, if they wish to attend. For more information about the event please contact Pamela Gravestock at 946-8585 or visit the OTA web site at www.utoronto.ca/ota.
  3. Throughout the academic year, both the OTA and RCAT will also be offering smaller workshops on plagiarism prevention and detection.
  4. The University of Toronto has purchased a license, through a consortium negotiated by the Council of Ontario Universities with iParadigms, for the unlimited use of Turnitin.com by our instructors. Turnitin.com is an electronic resource that assists in the detection and deterrence of plagiarism. It is widely used by universities in the United States and by a growing number of universities in Canada, and has over 2,000 registered institutions and over 200,000 registered users from 50 countries. The Turnitin.com database searches 1.5 billion pages on the Internet, and currently holds over a million previously submitted papers (including paper mill essays). iParadigms is also negotiating with large academic publishers and digital database vendors for access to their digital resources. Turnitin.com is easy to use and help is readily available through online user manuals and 24 hour email help.

The use of Turnitin.com by our instructors is completely voluntary. It is important that those who do use it understand that this is a tool for detecting textual similarities between compared works. The instructors must exercise their independent professional judgment in, and assume responsibility for, determining whether a text has been plagiarized or not. In addition, instructors who use Turnitin.com must inform students that they will be using Turnitin.com at the start of the course and at the time of each assignment, require students to submit their papers through the database and also provide students with reasonable offline alternatives to using the service.

When using Turnitin.com, the instructor will first need to establish a profile with Turnitin.com and then link his/her profile to the University's account. We ask that Chairs of departments be responsible for giving the University's account number and password to instructors as well as providing these instructors with the information sheet on the use of Turnitin.com.


CONDITIONS OF USE for Turnitin.com

  1. Turnitin.com is a tool that will assist in detecting textual similarities between compared works. Instructors must exercise their independent professional judgment in, and assume responsibility for, determining whether a text has been plagiarized or not.
  2. All students must be asked to submit all papers to the instructor via Turnitin.com, unless there are extenuating circumstances, which should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Where there are extenuating circumstances, students must be given a reasonable offline alternative to using Turnitin.com. There is a wide variety of non-electronic methods that can be used to deter and detect plagiarism; for example, to require that all rough work is handed in with the paper or that the student include an annotated bibliography with the paper. We ask that instructors consult with the Office of Teaching Advancement when establishing these alternatives.
  4. Students must be informed at the start of the course that the instructor will be using Turnitin.com. The course syllabus must include the following statement: "Students agree that by taking this course all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. The terms that apply to the University's use of the Turnitin.com service are described on the Turnitin.com web site."
  5. At the time of each assignment you may also wish to include the following statement on the assignment sheet: "Students will be required to submit this assignment by the due date to Turnitin.com for a textual similarity review. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. The terms that apply to the University's use of the Turnitin.com service are described on the Turnitin.com web site. Instructions on how to upload your paper to Turnitin.com can be found at http://www.turnitin.com. Students who do not agree with the submission of their paper to Turnitin.com must contact the instructor immediately to arrange an off-line alternative."

HOW TO USE Turnitin.com

  • Turnitin.com is easy to use. Detailed instructions on how to use it are provided in online user manuals and can be found at http://www.turnitin.com/pdf.html. A user manual is provided for both faculty and student users.
  • Email help is available on a 24 hour basis from helpdesk@turnitin.com.
  • The Office of Teaching Advancement (416-946-8585) and the Resource Centre for Academic Technology (http://www.rcat.utoronto.ca) will also be offering shortworkshops on how to use the service.
  • Instructors first need to establish a user profile. To do so please go to http://www.turnitin.com/n_newuser1.asp and follow the instructions. After that you will need to join your profile to the University's account. You can get the University's account number and enrollment password from the Chair of your department.
  • Instructors must create a class ID# and class enrolment password, which students need in order to submit their papers for the course.
  • Prior to submitting papers, students will need to create their own user profile and can do so from http://www.turnitin.com/n_newuser1.asp.