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Q. Will all of my work be checked?

Use of Turnitin is not mandatory and not all courses use it, but it is encouraged.  Where it is used, each Faculty or course may choose how it wishes to use Turnitin, and in what way; so on some courses all work may be checked, while on others only individual pieces. Some Colleges may also offer formative use under the direction of your Director of Studies or Graduate Tutor.

 You will be given clear information at the start of your studies as to how Turnitin UK is used on your course.

Q. Can I refuse consent to submit my work to Turnitin?

The University does not require consent from students to submit work to the Turnitin database for the purposes of academic misconduct detection and education, as this is considered one of the contractual, statutory, or public interest purposes in which we manage your personal data; more information on how your data is used can be found on the University's Data Protection pages for students.  However, you do retain the right to remove your work from the Turnitin database after it has been checked, if you wish.  We hope that you will choose to keep your work within the database so as to maximise the effectiveness of the software and to protect your work from future attempts to plagiarise it.  If you would like to make a removal request, please contact your course administrator in the first instance.

Q. Does Turnitin affect copyright or ownership of my work?

No, the copyright of all work submitted to Turnitin UK remains with the owner - under University Statutes and Ordinances, this is normally the student, with the exception of some collaborative or funded research projects (to which the student and sponsor would have agreed in advance).  The same is true of the Intellectual Property relating to the content, which also remains with the original owner.  Your work may be retained within the Turnitin UK database of student submissions to be used as source material against which future submissions will be checked; this will help to maximise the effectiveness of the software and to protect your work from future attempts to plagiarise it.  However, you have the right to request that your work is removed from the database.  This can only be done on an individual basis for each piece of work, and in some cases may only be possible following the conclusion of the examination process; if you would like to make such a request please contact your course Adminstrator in the first instance. 

Q. Can my work be penalised as a result of Turnitin findings?

This is one possible outcome, but it is important to realise that action taken on the basis of a Turnitin report will be after evaluation and review by your Examiners, Chair of Examiners, and Board of Examinations; it is not automatic. The University also makes a distinction between the academic and disciplinary elements of each case.

Turnitin reports will be reviewed in detail in order to make an academic judgement on whether the matched text may be a result of plagiarism, or whether it may reflect commonly-used phrases or correctly-cited references (such as your bibliography, which would necessarily match anyone else using that source).  Under the University's Definition of Academic Misconduct, plagiarism is the submission of someone else's work as your own, irrespective of your intent to deceive; this means that you have plagiarised even if you did it accidentally, through poor note-taking.  If the Examiners determine that the matches are the result of plagiarism, they then judge whether this is minor, or more serious/extensive.  If it is minor, they may adjust the mark awarded to reflect the nature and extent of the poor scholarship, so you will receive a lower mark than you otherwise would have, if you had referenced appropriately.  If the plagiarism is more serious or extensive, they may deem that it merits disciplinary action.

Disciplinary action in relation to having used unfair means to improve your performance can only be taken through the formal Student Discipline Process.  This process may result in sanctions or penalties, including lowering the resulting classification, failure of the course of study, or deprivation of University membership.  

Q. I have been asked to attend an investigative meeting because Turnitin highlighted matched text, but I know I didn't plagiarise; what do I do?

Firstly, don't panic; the meeting will be investigative, not disciplinary.  The purpose is to discuss the findings of the originality report with you so that you can see the concerns that have been raised and why, and have a chance to explain how you went about collating and referencing your sources.  Sometimes this will help to identify ways in which you can improve your academic skills, such as note-taking, to avoid problems in future.  The Examiners will be seeking to gain an indication of how the matches have occured, and whether they indicate a lack of understanding of scholarly methods, or an attempt to gain unfair advantage. You may also be asked to attend an interview or viva voce examination as part of the investigative process, but this is separate to the investigative meeting.

There are several possible outcomes to the investigative meeting, which are explained in more detail in our guidance to the investigative process. You are entitled to support at the meeting from a friend, your Tutor or your supervisor; you can also contact your College Tutor or DoS, or representatives from the Cambridge Student Union or the Student Advice Service if you would like to access additional support.  While the meeting is not discplinary in its nature, you should be aware that in seeking elucidation of the originality or ownership of your work, the investigative meeting may determine facts later pertinent to future discplinary process. 

Q. Can I check my own work before I submit it?

Normally, no.  The University does not make its licence available for students to check their own work prior to submission, unless your course, or your College, permits this as a formative feedback exercise as part of your studies.  It is also not possible to check work prior to its publication in a journal or other public format. 

It is your responsibility to understand and meet expectations of good scholarly practice in your subject, for your level of study.  If you are unsure whether you have appropriately referenced your work, you should in the first instance speak to your Tutor, Director of Studies or supervisor to discuss your technique.  S/he can advise you on expectations in your subject area for the type of work to be assessed, and ensure that you understand what you must do.  Our Resources and support section also provides a great deal of information to help you learn and understand when to cite, and how.

Q. What data is collected about me?

All material submitted to Turnitin UK will be identified only by your examination number or another anonymous identifier; your name will not be submitted.  Under the Data Protection Act, Faculties and Departments are legally obliged to tell students if their personal data is to be used in a way which is not covered under existing contractual arrangements.  As no personal or sensitive data will be transmitted to Turnitin UK, the University’s use of the software complies with this requirement.  The University has identified ‘providers of anti-plagiarism software’ in its information to students as organisations with whom data may be shared.  For more information about data protection and the way the University uses your data, see the University's Data Protection pages.

Use of the software is subject to Turnitin’s Privacy Policy and Usage Policy, which provide further details on the ways in which data is managed.


Q. What help is available?

If you have any queries about plagiarism or good academic practice, you should contact your Tutor or Director of Studies in the first instance. Our Resources and support pages may also be of help; these contain a number of tips and techniques to develop your academic practice, as well as links to online tutorials and quizzes to test your knowledge.

If you want to know more about the way that Turnitin is used in your Faculty or Department, you should contact your course administrator in the first instance. 

If you have any queries or concerns about an investigative meeting, or want to seek support for an investigative meeting, the Student Advice Service can help. 

For all other queries, please see our Sources of support pages, or contact your College Tutorial Office.

Q. I want to publish an article; can I use the University's Turnitin licence to check the work first?

No, the University's licence may only be accessed to check the work of students in relation to their course of study.