Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Turnitin - Managing false positives

For this post I thought I would share with you some information about managing false positive Originality Report results in Turnitin.

What’s a false positive then?

A false positive arises when a student has accidentally submitted the same piece of work into Turnitin twice. The reasons for this are usually:
  • The student has submitted the work firstly to the wrong Turnitin assignment and then has to upload it again to the correct assignment
  • *The student submitted a draft instead of their final piece and therefore has to contact the instructor to have it deleted so that they can resubmit the correct work. 
*This one depends on whether the instructor has allowed submissions up to the due date, or that first submission is final.

In both instances the resulting Originality Report score for that student’s piece of work will probably be 100%. The Originality Report also provides the source of the identical match and this can show the instructor that a false positive has occurred.


Interrogation of the Originality Report is very important in working out when a false positive has occurred. It is entirely possible that there is more than one match in the report, or that work has in fact been copied wholesale from another source. If there is more than one match and it therefore appears the piece of work isn't a false positive, then the filter or exclusion tools in the Originality Report are useful in pinpointing matching sources... but that’s for another post.

As I mentioned earlier instructors do have the facility to delete submissions. This facility is useful if the student needs to resubmit urgently, perhaps due to an impending due date. However deleting the paper from here does not delete it from the Paper Repository and a false positive will still be shown. The process for getting any  duplicate paper removed from the Paper Repository requires contacting me as Turnitin administrator for the University of Sheffield:

In the email to me I will need two pieces of information:

1) The course title: (e.g MLTxxx)
2.) The paper ID: 

The paper ID can be found in the assignment inbox.

Once I have received this information I can request deletion from the Turnitin Paper Repository and the false positive match will be gone from the Originality Report.

There's plenty more stuff to come on Turnitin and its functionality so stay tuned!


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