#TechTipThursday: Locating and Interpreting the Similarity Score for a Turnitin assignment

Turnitin is one of many digital tools available to enhance the teaching and learning environment at SUNY Geneseo. Commonly thought of as a plagiarism-detection utility, Turnitin compares a learner’s submission against documents in its database. Settings for comparison are determined by the professor and can be adjusted for each assignment. Faculty are not required to use this tool but those that opt-in have guidelines governing its implementation in a course.

The learner and professor become aware of Turnitin’s comparison analysis within Canvas: instructors through the gradebook and learners on the assignment’s submission page. This post will focus on locating and interpreting the resultant Similarity Score from the learner’s perspective. Note that professors would follow similar steps beginning with the text bubble, unique to each learner, in the gradebook as shown below.

This is an individual cell, corresponding to a learner’s submission for a specific assignment requiring Turnitin.

The Similarity Score displays to the right of the text bubble on the assignment’s submission page in Canvas (it is a percentage indicator of the text in a learner’s submission that matches text elsewhere). What follows are screenshots capturing steps to locate the information a learner is after: external sources that correspond to highlighted matches within the submitted assignment.

Assignment submission page
A learner’s submission page for a particular assignment. The red square around a green text bubble is the similarity score for the submission; learners can click on the text bubble for more information from Turnitin.
Find match overview
The learner’s submission following review by Turnitin. Highlighted text indicates content that has been found elsewhere in Turnitin’s database. Note the red icons on the right side of the screen.
Display match overview
Learners should click on the number immediately below the triple stack/layer icon in red to display the match overview (i.e., areas within the learner’s submission that match specifically identifiable external sources).
Match overview sources
To identify where within the external source a learner’s submission matches, click on either the number above a highlighted area on their submission or the carrot (>) shown to the right of any percentage in the Match Overview column.

Additional information about interpreting the Similarity Report, including an expansion of the Match Overview, is available directly from Turnitin. Our Canvas Support team is happy to assist should you encounter difficulty or develop questions surrounding use of Turnitin. You can also reach us by email (canvas@geneseo.edu) or the Canvas Hotline at 585.245.6000 (weekdays 8AM – 4PM).


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