Since the University has been using Turnitin, we have had a few occasions when a student submission is returning a 0% originality match and we have had to explain what it means.

If you are not familiar with the Originality report then please see the Turnitin video

The report is provided by an automated checking service which compares what is submitted by the students against any other paper which is held in the Turnitin database. It does not replace the expertise of a tutor in evaluating the content which has been written.

The reasons for a 0% match are:

1) The student has written a piece of work which is not in the Turnitin database. This work may be completely original or taken from a source which has not previously been submitted. The database will not necessarily hold details of books and journals which are held in ‘protected areas’ unless they have been previously used by another submission.

2) Whilst the risk is low due the the technology in use, the student may have found a way to submit work in a way that avoids the possibility of it being checked.

3) The settings which the tutor used when setting up the Turnitin assignment area may have reduced the sensitivity of the matching process.

The current guidance (assuming that the tutor is not checking all submissions) is to check all submissions which are in excess of a certain percentage. In addition a random sample of those below this percentage should also be checked.

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2 Responses to Does a 0% Turnitin submission mean anything ?

  1. AlasdairGF says:

    This additional checking seems sensible enough, as long as the sample checking outside of Turnitin doesn’t take as long as it used to take before we were using Turnitin!

    Assuming (2) above, how would it be best to check this additional sample, other than relying on one’s own intuition? (As I’ve said elsewhere, intuition is what prejudice feels like… and I’m wary about letting it loose on judgements about whether students are cheating or not…!)

  2. Rob Howe says:

    Many thanks for your comments on the posting.

    With regard to (2) please contact the learntech team ( if you suspect that this has happened and we will investigate alternatives to the checking process in addition to enlisting support from Turnitin.