Getting Started with Turnitin

Aurora University
Information Technology Services
Rev. 14 May 2008

Turnitin is an online plagiarism detection service that analyzes electronic submissions of student writing, compares them to the contents of a huge online database, and delivers an originality analysis for each submitted paper. The database used to produce this analysis contains a massive collection of documents available on the Internet from both free and commercial sources, as well as the full texts of all other papers that have been previously submitted to Turnitin.

This document will get you started using this service, but is not intended to serve as a complete guide. Most of what you need to know about setting up and using your Turnitin account is available in Turnitin's illustrated quick start guide, which is available online at A more detailed 62-page instructor's manual containing more information on the range of tools available in Turnitin is available in PDF format at

First Steps

These are the essential steps to getting started with Turnitin:

  1. Establish a personal account. You can do this by going to the Turnitin home page at, and click the link "create a user profile" in the upper right-hand corner, just below the login box. On the next screen select the "instructor" user type. On the next screen you will need to enter AU's institutional account information. When you're ready for this step, contact Information Technology Services for current ID and password information.

  2. Create a class. Once you have created a personal account, follow the online prompts to add a class. You will need to do this for every class that you will be using with Turnitin.

  3. Add an assignment. Once the class has been created, you'll create an assignment, which is a storage framework into which student work is uploaded.

  4. Upload a document. The system accepts documents in most common formats, including plain text, MS Word, WordPerfect, PDF, PostScript, RTF, and HTML. An originality analysis for each submitted document is available almost immediately.

An Alternative to Turnitin

Turnitin is effective, but may not always detect every instance of plagiarism. Here's a trick using Google that may occasionally yield results when Turnitin has failed. It is based on the fact that the Google search engine is itself a powerful text pattern-matching tool. Google does not have the organizational, analytical, or convenient display features of Turnitin, but can be used to take a block of sample text and locate matching text on the Internet. Here are the steps:

  1. Open both your browser and your word processor.

  2. In the browser, open up the Google home page at

  3. In the word processor, load the student paper to be tested. (If you do not have an electronic copy of the paper you'll have to type the text to be tested into the word processor yourself).

  4. In the word processor, select a representative block of text from the paper. An entire sentence is good, or even an entire paragraph. Highlight the text to be tested and use the copy feature of your word processor to save the text temporarily to the system's clipboard. This is usually done using the menu choices Edit > Copy, or by pressing <Ctrl>+c on keyboard.

  5. Switch over to the browser. Place the cursor in the search box on the Google home page and paste the copied text. This can normally be done using the menu choices Edit > Paste, or by pressing <Ctrl>+v on the keyboard.

  6. Examine the top several sites retrieved by Google to see how well they match your sample.

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