What Is Turnitin?
Previously known as Plagiarism.org, Turnitin is a sophisticated piece of software geared towards upholding high academic integrity standards. In simpler terms, it’s how professors ensure students do their work instead of cheating.
While it seems like a basic plagiarism detector, Turnitin is a powerful tool that students and professors can use to improve academic writing. Still, despite its numerous benefits, the service is not without flaws. And the growing number of false-positive results makes students and academics detest the software to the point where ways to bypass Turnitin are getting more creative than ever.
How Does Turnitin Detect Plagiarism?
To pass a Turnitin check, you need to realize it isn’t actually a plagiarism checker. The report does not specify the plagiarism percentage. Instead, it highlights similarities in your paper when compared with online sources, scientific publications, and student works in the Turnitin database. It’s up to your professor to assess the highlighted similarities and decide whether your piece can be considered an original work.
The trouble is that Turnitin algorithms evolve over time, and false-positive results become more common. For example, typical transition phrases are included in the similarity percentage unless your instructor specifies otherwise. And trying to account for paraphrasing makes Turnitin even more unpredictable, as you never know how the similarities are identified.
But is Turnitin accurate?
Like any plagiarism detection service, it’s not without flaws. That’s the main reason the professor remains the only person to make the final decision regarding grading or failing your assignment. Only a human can analyze the similarity report and come to the correct conclusion.
The Dos and Don’ts of Beating Turnitin
1. Don’t Mess with Character Swapping
The most common advice on how to beat plagiarism checkers is to swap Latin characters with letters from other alphabets that look the same. Unfortunately, this trick stopped working long ago, as the Turnitin flag report includes all suspicious aspects of the paper, including weird characters.
2. Don’t Try White on White Text
Another outdated hack recommends you replace spaces between words with white characters invisible to the human eye. Sorry, but Turnitin caught onto this long ago and will highlight this trick in the flag report, drawing your instructor’s attention to your cheating efforts.
3. Don’t Use Macros, Images, or PDFs
You cannot fool the plagiarism check by replacing the paper with macros and images or submitting PDFs in place of editable files. The similarity report includes the word count, and your professor will be notified if your essay holds zero words.
4. Don’t Overuse Quotes
Using quotation marks on your whole paper will not help you cheat Turnitin. By default, the checker highlights all similarities, and professors must manually exclude quotes and citations from the report. Putting quotation marks around every paragraph or sentence will make your similarity report extra suspicious and raise red flags.
5. Don’t Rely on Automatic Paraphrasing Tools
Unfortunately, most free anti Turnitin spinners and unplagiarizers are nowhere near as advanced as the plag checker. Some premium tools can produce results that trick the similarity-seeking algorithm. Still, most free services make your papers barely coherent by replacing every other word with the closest thesaurus match. And Turnitin makes short work of flagging such tricks.
6. Do a Quality Paraphrasing
Turnitin detects similarities if your rewrite is limited to swapping words with synonyms. But if you do a good job paraphrasing the original work, or better yet, several primary sources, the software will not flag it as plagiarism. Experiment with different sentence structures and lengths, add transitions and play around with lists and paragraph lengths. All these will differentiate your work from your sources.
7. Do Use Quotes and Cite Sources
Passing the whole paper as a quote won’t trick Turnitin, but using quotes sparingly will increase your word count and help you get the piece done sooner. Remember to use quotation marks and appropriate citation style. Otherwise, the software won’t be able to differentiate quotes from your analysis, and your similarity rate will be too high.
8. Do Submit an Original Essay
The only foolproof Turnitin bypass is submitting a unique piece of writing. How you achieve that is a different story. If you cannot be bothered with research and writing, you always have the option to hire a professional writer. You can also try to get them to do a quality rewrite for you, as it’s cheaper than writing from scratch.
What does it mean when Turnitin says 0 similarity?
It means your paper is 100% original without a trace of plagiarism. It’s the best you can hope for, and your professors will appreciate it.
Is 8% a good score on Turnitin?
That depends on your school’s and professor’s plagiarism requirements. Some allow up to 10% or 15% similarity, while others set the limit at 5%.
Does Turnitin count references?
The service highlights all similarities, so you can use it to check proper referencing. You know you’ve missed a reference if you notice a big chunk of highlighted text without a citation.
Does Turnitin detect citations?
It highlights quotes and reference information as similarities, but professors have the option to exclude them from consideration.
Can you submit a paper to Turnitin twice?
Yes, you can. However, you’ll have to do it yourself and wait at least 24 hours between plagiarism checks.