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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Turnitin - understanding the similarity report


RMIT uses a plagiarism detection tool called Turnitin for all written material. If you have plagiarised in your work, it will be detected.

Visit the plagiarism page for a video on how Turnitin works.

When you submit your work to Turnitin, a similarity report will be produced. Your tutor will review this to help them determine if you have referenced everything correctly.

You can also use this report to check your own references, and make sure you haven't accidentally plagiarised.

Understanding the similarity report 

The similarity report shows the amount of text that matches other material previously uploaded to Turnitin, globally. This may include work that you've previously submitted to RMIT as well as assignments from other institutions. In some cases, you can upload your work more than once to produce a new similarity report. Check your course guide on Canvas to see if you can do this.

The similarity report will give you a percentage of text that matches other materials.  

The match overview shows chunks of text which match or are very similar to sources already on Turnitin. How the text matches are spread out is more important than the percentage. If you have large chunks of text which are highlighted, this could mean that more careful paraphrasing is needed.

If there are small matches look at these carefully. Correctly cited and formatted quotes may be highlighted, depending on the settings.

Additionally, items such as course titles, teacher names, and assignment titles may be highlighted in Turnitin.

Reducing the similarity score 

  • Check the settings - you can reduce the percentage immediately by excluding quotations and your reference list, this does not impact what your teacher sees
  • Check that your quotations have double quotation marks - single marks will always be ignored by Turnitin
  • If chunks of text are highlighted, then you need to paraphrase further as the wording is still too close to the original source