Turnitin is a cloud-based service widely known around the academic world as being a plagiarism checker. However, it has many facets to it that make it a useful program for teachers and students alike. The program itself is very different from other software which will offer only detecting plagiarism or a grammar checker. It can be used as a tool for teachers in several ways and does have benefits for students who use it. Today we go over Turnitin’s pros, cons, and if it’s worth it.
Pros to Turnitin
Many different features make Turnitin a great choice for higher education users.
Turnitin is unique compared to other programs in that it offers multilingual support. Over a dozen different languages are supported so it’s ideal for students that are bilingual or international. It’s also useful if you are a Language teacher and require your students to submit their content in a different language. Most programs of a similar nature will only offer English or very few supports in other languages putting them at a huge disadvantage.
2. Usage Across Other Devices
Students that use Turnitin will find that they will be required to upload their documents to the program. The great thing about this is that students can upload their paper using their desktop, doc docx, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Instructors are also able to do the same and the feature is extremely useful instead of having to go the route of copying and pasting to the program.
In addition to being able to use third-party file uploading, you can use the program from your iPad. Turnitin has compatibility with the iPad so you don’t have to even turn on your computer for submitting your work and can just use their app.
3. Database Size
While this may not be a student’s favorite feature, it’s a godsend to instructors. When it comes to checking plagiarized work, most programs fall short and miss many instances. Turnitin has an ever-growing database that currently checks over 70 billion websites to detect plagiarism. It will also cross-check already submitted work against other users in the event someone used copied work from another student. This is by far the largest detection service database around.
4. Plagiarism Detection Software
Once a student’s work is submitted, Turnitin will create several reports and create a digital receipt. One report is the Originality Report. This report will generate a percentage on the work. The higher the score, the higher the chances the work was copied from original work.
However, the detection software can be influenced by other settings you may have turned on or off like citations or quotations. It’s important to note that just because similarities were detected, it doesn’t necessarily mean academic misconduct was found.
Instructors should check the Document Viewer which will color-code passages. It will highlight where there may be discrepancies. You’ll be able to see excerpts of the source text and even view the full source by clicking on the Full Source View option. From there, you can set that particular text as being excluded if students were allowed to use that site for paraphrasing or decide for yourself if they stole intellectual property.
Since Turnitin’s database is so large, it can sometimes produce source texts that are unavailable like journal articles, rights reserved work, or previously submitted work. This can happen for various reasons like private databases or an academic repository. In the case of repositories being private, a request can be made to see the documents. This will usually take about one business day or so.
5. Grading Tools
GradeMark is a tool that will allow educators to make corrections, comments, and even voice comments on the work. This feature has the option of dragging commonly used comments by categories and you can also create your own tags like “nice use of critical thinking!”. Freewriting in the margins is another option and can be done on the iPad too. Different file types can be used to upload comments, online grading, peer review, and reports.
6. Grammar Rating Report
As it was stated with the Originality reports, there are other available options that you can turn on and off. One of them is the grammar checker. This feature will generate reports on grammar and spelling mistakes through the ETS e-rater.
While it doesn’t activate and correct grammar while the student is using the program, the instructor can see what needs to be fixed. Feedback can be given to the student on which grammar mistakes they need to work on and improve their writing. Most programs of this nature do a grammar check without explaining the reasons why or just automatically correct it. Turnitin gives students a chance to improve and learn.
7. Customer Service
When it comes to their customer service, they do an impeccable job at responding to their customer’s needs. Their customer service desk has grown over the years to handle the volume of questions and concerns they get. When it comes to reaching out to them, it takes less than an hour on average to receive a response.
Their service when it comes to preventing plagiarism is quick too. If you request to see private databases, they will get back to you within a business day or two.
Cons to Turnitin
Turnitin is pretty good software but it doesn’t come without some flaws.
This may not be a huge deal to some instructors, but it can be for those who are making corrections on large pieces of work or research papers. There is currently a 5,000-character limit for comments at the end. While you can use the space in the margins or other places, it can be a detriment for those whose students need a lot of guidance or corrections.
The voice comments feature is also limited to only 3 minutes. While for most this won’t be much of an issue, it can be for those who need further explanations on their work. Some students respond to feedback better with sound than written work. Limitations also extend to only being available on certain applications. For example, corrections on a PDF file will not be able to contain any audio comments.
Plain text documents students submit are also limited to 400 pages.
While most institutions that use Turnitin offer it for free to their faculty and students, those who don’t have a subscription will pay quite a bit. Costs can vary based on student enrollment and features included for example. The last known price point available online was $3 per student. For a university, the cost may seem like a lot but factor tuition, it’s covered. For a tutor or someone not apart of a large organization, it can be too much.
Is Turnitin Recommended?
Overall, Turnitin is an ideal program for teachers and students alike. It has many features that go beyond the typical plagiarism detection service and comes with a few flaws. If you’re an educator that oversees many students daily, then this technology will only aid in your teaching methods. It will not only make things easier when it comes to time management but will also catch those more dishonest students with the detection of plagiarism. For students, it can teach them the proper way of citing sources and improve their writing skills by getting feedback from their teachers and through the use of Turnitin’s reports.