I Hate Turnitin.com, or, “Help! The Cloud Ate My Homework!”

I am currently taking a class where the instructor requires us to upload our assignments to Turnitin.com.  The purpose of doing this is to generate an “Originality Report” that is turned in along with our assignments.

The Originality Report is basically a fancy marketing term for when the service searches the text of your submission and matches it with various other sources across the web, ostensibly to prevent blatant plagiarism.

We are then expected to make changes to our original assignment that will increase our “Originality Score,” resubmit the paper to Turnitin.com, and then re-generate our originality report which, ideally, is more original than our first submission.

There are several reasons why I despise this practice and especially hate Turnitin.com.

To begin, by submitting my work to Turnitin.com, I am resigning any control over the electronic copy of the work that I have just created.  Turnitin.com can now use my paper as an ongoing reference to check any future submissions.

To combat this loss of control, I have uploaded my first submission, “Data Modeling – Conceive, Collaborate, Create,” to my portfolio page.  You can also link directly to the PDF here.  Since my work is now going to be floating around the internet and undoubtedly appearing in countless other “Originality Reports,” I figured that I should at least try to get some of the credit.

The second reason why I hate Turnitin.com is the fact that their product, this so-called “Originality Report,” produces nothing of value.  For the paper linked above, there were 12 instances where Turnitin.com reported that my text matched 1% of an internet source.  1%!?  Is 1% even worth noting?  What am I supposed to do to reduce 1% matches with 12 internet sources?  Some of the phrasing denoted is only three words long, and in the middle of a sentence.  It’s highly likely that some other author and I just happened to pair the same three words in the same order.  In fact, I’m actually surprised that there were only 12 1% matches.  With 1500 words, I would expect many more 1% hits to pop up.

Finally, the thing that makes Turnitin.com a totally worthless service is the fact that I must now wait 24 hours to receive my second “Originality Report.”  See below:

Turnitin Problem

Now what?  I’m not sure why this “feature” is included.  If I am trying to reduce my instances of “plagiarism,” and I have already uploaded one copy, what does Turnitin.com have to gain from making me wait?  Isn’t the point that I’m able to see where my “Originality Report” is less than original, and then make the changes?

Enjoy hoarding my paper for the rest of time, Turnitin.com.  In the meantime, I’ll be here waiting for my next 1% match with the entire Internet.


13 thoughts on “I Hate Turnitin.com, or, “Help! The Cloud Ate My Homework!”

  1. We live to surve the machine. Soon, it will be relvealed that through networking they have gained consciousness, joined with CMU robotics teschnology, and now wish to be known as Cylons. For our years of treating them as machines subservient to humans, they will eventually perpetrate a nuclear holocaust upon us. But,a few humans will survive. They will evolve from stone knives to networked Blackberries and mainframes, at which point the computers will gain senscience, retailate for our misreatment of them by nuking us, and the cycle will continue. It has all happened before. It will all happen again.

    Colonial warriors will be conducting a recurit drive next Saturday. Join today, save homo sapiens.

  2. I totally agree. I have to submit an essay again into turnitin and i really hate it especially as i have to wait 24 hours for another originality report and the essay is due in for the 15th. I REALLY HATE it and it has so many god damn flaws. AHHHH

  3. oh forgot to say especially when it says its found <1%…apparently someone at the University of Durham has also put "a set of values" in their essay, i must be plagiarizing. Its no tool to help stop plagiarism, all it does is just mach words that are in the same order, it might as well say the whole god damn essay is plagiarized.

  4. Turnitin is ridiculous I just spent all day and night writing 2000 word essay and when I turned it in it showed me 31% in my “originality report”. I was so mad because everything that was matched was 1% or >1%. I had 3 matched up to be 4% but they were cited on the paper and the bibliography! This whole turnitin business is completely ruining students who actually want to put thought and make their work count for. instead we have to worry about getting matched up with someone eles work by 3 words in paragraph that counts for like 1%. this is a totally flawed system and I dont think it even improves the students work performance, because from what i know, everytime im writing a paper i cant even concentrate on it and by the time i turn it in nothing on the is paper is what i want it to be in terms of the wording, examples, etc. I dont understand how professors can be so oblivious to the flaws of this stupid system. I hope action is taken towards turnitin because this is just wrong.

  5. I am a turnitin administrator for an academic institution and i total understand where you are coming from. The however it is important to note that turnitin DOES Not detect plagiarism. Academics do. Turnitin is merely a tool to help with and speed up this process. Any academic worth their salt will obviously disregard these 1% hits and see it as your own work. In our case our markers instantly disregard up to 12% of the originality report because this is the cover sheet that is submitted with every student paper.
    The fact that you cannot see the originality score for 24 hours after a resubmission is annoying though and i can tell you that not even the instructors or administrators can see it either.

    In short, the turnitin is not perfect but it is useful (so long as you have academics who know what they are doing)

  6. Turnitin is not the enemy. Slavish (and lazy) teachers are. When I use Turnitin, I can see who took word for word notes from the text that they accidentally used in their essay. I can also see who cut and paste a chunk of text from Wikipedia. A brain must come in contact with the information. Resubmitting a paper to get rid of a 2% report is just dumb. But 31% means that someone copied a lot from another source. If that’s not cited correctly it’s accidental or purposeful plagiarism. I’m sure it has occurred to you that lots of people who say, ‘it’s just a coincidence that 31% of my essay, including those 3 sentences together where only 4 words are changed’ is probably lying.

  7. I can’t agree more!!!
    I’m a science student and my professor asked me to hand in my papers to turnitin.com. But that f**king system counted those long chemical names in to a kind of plagiarism. Well carbon dioxide is carbon dioxide, how can I change it into other thing to escape from that ‘similarity’!

  8. I submitted my first piece of work to turnitin just now and was seriously scared I hadn’t referenced correctly and it would show 50% or more, especially my direct quote. however, i needn’t have worried. the direct quote didn’t get highlighted, like at all, not sure if it’s because i formatted it and referenced it correctly but there we go, but also i only got 1%. my 2200 word essay is full of references and not one of them flagged up. 2 things did flag up, the name of an institution i was writing about, well there’s not much i can do about that and also the page number at the bottom!!!! i seriously doubt my refs were that good and although i definitely didn’t cheat or copy and paste bits of my essay i was seriously expecting more things to be highlighted! i really don’t think that the turnitin service is any good, if it doesn’t even notice a direct quote from a webpage.

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