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How does the University detect plagiarism?

The University detects plagiarism in a number of different ways:

  • Academic staff have extensive knowledge in their field so they are able to recognise material which you have included but not referenced
  • Some Departments require students to include a signed statement with their assignment, to the effect that the work which it contains is their own or, if not, that it has been correctly referenced
  • Some Departments use different software tools to check material they suspect plagiarised

All Departments and academic staff have access to a specialised originality checking tool called Turnitin that is available through Blackboard. The use of this tool is left to the discretion of the individual departments and paper co-ordinators. It uses may include:

  • Submitting the work of all students, for a specific assignment, through Turnitin
  • Checking an individual assignment if the marker has concerns about its originality
  • Detecting plagiarism between two or more students who have copied from one another
  • Allowing students' access to Turnitin to submit draft and final assignments. Submitting a draft assignment gives students the opportunity to check all their work is correctly referenced before it is marked and help increase awareness of what constitutes plagiarism


Turnitin is an anti-plagiarism service that the University of Otago subscribes to. It is integrated into Blackboard and Moodle and allows for students to upload assignments to be compared to internet sources, popular reference databases and work submitted by other students contained in Institutional repositories.

Once a student has submitted an assignment to Turnitin the software will generate an Similarity Report which outlines the text matches that Turnitin has found and the source it has matched them from. Turnitin has an extensive database of content in academic databases and content available on the Internet that is is able to match against.

How do I submit my assignment?

It is up to individual lecturers to decide whether or not to give students the option to submit and view a draft Similarity Report so they can review their work, though the University recommends allowing students to submit a draft. Upon making a final submission to be assessed students should not be able to see the Similarity Report.

Once a student has submitted an assignment, teaching staff will be able to grade the assignment, provide in-line feedback and view the Originality Report which will outline the text matches Turnitin has found and where they were sourced from.

Instructions on how to submit an assignment to Turnitin

Viewing my Turnitin Similarity Report

The report can help:

  • improve your writing
  • remind you about citing your sources
  • avoid unintentionally plagiarising existing material
  • improve your academic integrity by establishing good referencing practices

Instructions on how to view Similarity Reports

What will happen if I am involved in academic misconduct?

Further information about the Student Academic Misconduct Procedures.

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