Turnitin Instructor Guide

Turnitin is a plagiarism-prevention tool that helps you check the academic integrity of student writing. You can use Turnitin by setting up an assignment in Canvas with plagiarism review enabled. The review works by checking each student’s submission for possible matches with the papers in Turnitin’s databases and flagging any matching content for you to review.
Access Yes You can access Turnitin through Canvas.
Cost Yes Free.
Bandwidth Yes Low demand on internet connections.
Canvas Integration Yes Works in coordination with Canvas.
Privacy Yes Verified by UBC’s Privacy Impact Assessment process.
Similar UBC-Supported Tools N Turnitin is the only centrally supported tool for checking potential plagiarism.

What can I use it for?

You can use Turnitin in Canvas to collect and review student assignments:

  • Comparing student writing with Turnitin’s sources to identify any similarities with previous text
  • Checking for improper citations in student writing

This tool guide was last reviewed in April 2024.

How are other faculty using Turnitin?

Xiaowen Xu profile Xiaowen Xu uses Turnitin so students can self-check for plagiarism in the Chinese Language Program

In advanced content-based literature courses under the Chinese Language Program, students are expected to enhance their academic writing skills. To achieve that learning outcome, students need to grasp a solid knowledge of academic integrity and avoid plagiarism. Turnitin can help students prevent basic forms of plagiarism when writing assignments, such as short analysis papers and final papers. Read more »

What do I need to use Turnitin in Canvas?

A supported web browser

Turnitin works in coordination with Canvas. Canvas runs in your web browser and supports using Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. For the versions that work, check the Canvas supported browser page. Canvas will not work with Internet Explorer.

A Canvas assignment

There are different ways that you might give assignments in Canvas including discussions, quizzes, and traditional assignments where students submit work. Turnitin at UBC only works with traditional assignments where students submit a file or a text entry.


  • Turnitin is one tool that can be used to promote academic integrity, but you can consider multiple approaches. Read through UBC’s Academic Integrity website for more information about ways to approach academic integrity more holistically and what it means.

How do I use Turnitin in Canvas?

After your Canvas course is created, you can create assignments in Turnitin that will review student submissions for potential plagiarism.

Click any accordion bar below for instructions and tips for using Turnitin in Canvas.

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Set up a Turnitin assignment in Canvas

Turnitin in Canvas is enabled in each assignment's settings. Any written work submitted for that Canvas assignment as a file or as a text entry will be automatically analyzed by Turnitin to identify similarities that need review.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and Assignments in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click +Assignment.
  3. Enter the assignment name and instructions using the text editor.
  4. Specify the number of points and, if applicable, the assignment group (i.e., the group of assignments this should belong to for grading purposes).
  5. Select Online as the "Submission Type" and check Text Entry and/or File Uploads, depending on how you would like students to submit their work.
    • To ensure file uploads are compatible with Turnitin, you can also check Restrict Upload File Types and specify the accepted extensions as one or more of the text files that are readable by Turnitin (e.g., pdf, doc, docx).
  6. Set the number of allowed submission attempts. You will need to allow multiple submissions if you want to let students use Turnitin's reporting as a self-check for improving their work.
  7. Under "Plagiarism Review", select Turnitin. This action will load additional Turnitin options.
  8. Choose if you would like to store the student submissions in the Turnitin repository or not, and select the types of content that you would like to compare each submission against.
  9. Under "Similarity Report", you can select if Turnitin should exclude any sources when checking student submissions.
    • Exclude bibliographic material - Excludes checking text that appears in the bibliography, works cited, or references sections of student submissions.
    • Exclude quoted materials - Excludes checking text that appears within quotes in the student submissions.
    • Exclude small sources - Excludes matches that have a small amount in common with a student's writing. You can set the match length as a total word count or as a percentage, and you can change this setting for individual submissions later.
  10. Under "Show report to students", choose when students can access the results of Turnitin's report on their submission. If you are letting students use Turnitin's reporting as a self-check, select Immediately.
  11. If needed, check the This is a Group Assignment or Require Peer Reviews box and fill in the additional information.
  12. You can add a due date for the assignment, which allows for late submissions in Turnitin. Alternatively, you can add availability dates and students will only be able to submit during this time frame, with no late submissions allowed.
  13. Click Save & Publish to make the assignment visible to your students.


  • Some of the plagiarism-checking settings can be adjusted again when reviewing an individual student's writing. You can make these adjustments when you view the similarity report. Details on viewing and interacting with the report are provided in the next accordion bar.
  • Group assignments will still give all students in the group access to Turnitin's reporting. Although only one student will submit the assignment, everyone will be able to see the report, provided that you choose to make it available to students.

Check for plagiarism and grade a Turnitin assignment in Canvas

You can check a student's work by viewing Turnitin's similarity report. Similarity reports tell you the outcome of comparing the text of the student's writing against Turnitin's sources. These reports are initially run on each student's submission according to the preferences that you set in the Canvas assignment. You can always adjust these preferences and run the report again at any time. After reviewing the report, you can assign grades for Turnitin assignments as you would for any other assignment in Canvas, using the Canvas Gradebook or Canvas SpeedGrader.

  1. Log in to you Canvas course and click Assignments in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the assignment name, and then click SpeedGrader.
  3. In the Canvas SpeedGrader, navigate to the student you would like to review the similarity report for.
  4. Click the similarity score, which appears in the colored square on the right-hand side. This action will launch Turnitin in a new window.
    • You may need to agree to the Turnitin license first.
  5. In Turnitin, you will see a toolbar on the right-hand side of the assignment. The red part of the menu relates to the similarity report. Each icon corresponds to a different piece of information from the report:
    • Labelled image of Turnitin similarity report toolbar with letters corresponding to each iconFlags for Review (a) - This icon will flag any abnormalities that the Turnitin algorithm has found in the writing. A flag does not necessarily mean a problem, but rather a specific area that you should review.
    • Match Overview (b) - This icon will report the percentage of the document where the text was very similar—or a direct match—to other Turnitin sources. Again, a higher number here does not necessarily indicate a problem. How much text you can expect to match will depend on the report settings you have selected (i.e., what text you include or exclude) and the particulars of your assignment.
    • All Sources (c) -This icon will show the sources where similar or matching text was found, such as in websites, other student papers, or published articles. You can use this interface to exclude sources from the report, if you decide that they are not problematic and should not be flagged.
    • Filters and Settings (d) - This icon will let you adjust some of the similarity report settings for this individual report, overriding the defaults that you set for the assignment as a whole. When you are ready to run the report again, click New Report.
    • Excluded Sources (e) - This icon will show you any sources that you choose to exclude from the report using the "All Sources" interface. You can restore any sources here to add them back to the report.
  6. When you are finished reviewing the report for this submission, you can click the arrow icon in the top right to advance to the next submission.
  7. Once you are finished reviewing reports, you can close the Turnitin window and return to the Canvas SpeedGrader to assign grades or provide feedback on student submissions.


  • Remember that it's up to you and your teaching team to decide what is or is not plagiarism. Turnitin provides an automated report to guide your review, but its algorithms only highlight matching content. You will need to verify if the highlighted text constitutes actual misconduct based on your context.
  • Teaching assistants can also review similarity reports in Canvas. They can access similarity reports for each student's assignment the same way that you can: either from the Canvas SpeedGrader or the Canvas Gradebook.
  • Turnitin will add coloured flags in the Canvas Gradebook for each student's submission. The colour depends on the similarity score, i.e., the percentage of potential matches that Turnitin found with its sources.
  • If you let students have multiple attempts, each new attempt will have a new similarity score and report; however, the colour of the flag in the Canvas Gradebook will still reflect the score of the first attempt. We recommend using the Canvas SpeedGrader to see the most accurate reporting for each student's submission.
  • When reviewing a similarity report in Turnitin, you can click the question mark icon in the top right for shortcuts to Turnitin help. From there, you can find articles about similarity reports and learn more about the different options to check sources.

Turnitin FAQ

Find UBC-specific answers to frequently asked questions by clicking any accordion bar below.

We recommend using Turnitin through Canvas, where you and your students can access the tool using your UBC CWL (Campus-Wide Login). However, you can still use Turnitin as a standalone tool at UBC if you need to.

In using Turnitin outside of Canvas, you and your students will need to create Turnitin accounts to log in. To comply with UBC privacy requirements, you will need to give students the option to create these accounts using an anonymized email address. You can use the following template to make your students aware of this option:

  • In this course, you will be using Turnitin, a tool to help review written work for potential plagiarism. When creating an account in the tool, you will be asked to provide personally identifying information such as your full name and email address. Please know that you are not required to share this personal information with the tool, if you are uncomfortable doing so. If you choose not to consent to sharing, you may create an account using a nickname and a non-identifying email address, then let your instructor know what alias you are using in the tool.

If you need a Turnitin account created for yourself or a TA, please contact us at the LT Hub. If you already have an account, you can log in to Turnitin directly.

Yes, you can submit on behalf of your students:

  1. In your Canvas course, click Grades in the Course Navigation.
  2. Locate the assignment you would like to submit to and click in the cell for the student submission. Click the arrow icon that appears on the right side of the cell.
  3. In the sidebar menu that pops up, click Submit for Student. A space to upload a file will appear.
  4. Click Choose a file, locate the file, and click Open.
  5. Click Submit. You will be able to view, grade, and review the student submission as you normally would, and the student will be able to see the submission as if it were their own.

No, UBC has decided not to enable Turnitin's feature for detecting Artificial Intelligence-generated writing at this time. The university believes that the feature is too new, untested, and hard to validate. You can read more about the decision to not enable the Turnitin AI-detection feature in our news post.

Yes, teaching assistants can also review similarity reports in Canvas. TAs can access reports for each student's assignment the same way that you can: either from the Canvas SpeedGrader or the Canvas Gradebook.

Yes, Turnitin works with group assignments in Canvas. Using Turnitin with group assignments can be convenient because you will only need to review the similarity report once per group. You can also allow students in the group to submit multiple times, and the newest submission will overwrite any previous submissions.

If you have enabled students to see the similarity report, it will be visible to all students within a group.

No, you will not be able to use Turnitin in Canvas to check work that is not associated with a specific class or assignment. However, you can check non-course-related work in the Turnitin standalone tool, using the quick submit feature. Please contact us at the LT Hub if you would like to use Turnitin as a standalone tool. We will need to create an account for you first.

Unless you change the default assignment setting, student submissions are saved to the Turnitin standard paper repository database. The benefit of saving to this database is that, if any student submits the work—or parts of it—again in a subsequent class (at UBC or another institution), Turnitin will flag this as potential plagiarism.

If such a flag happens on a new student submission, know that the original student submission will not be accessible immediately to any instructors or TAs from other classes or institutions. In other words, if a student submits an assignment in your class in Term 1 and another student submits this same assignment in another instructor's class in Term 2, the Term 2 instructor won't be able to see the first student's assignment. The Term 2 instructor will only see that a match was found by Turnitin in a previous student's writing and will need to request access from you to view the student's assignment.

If another instructor requests access to your student's assignment, you will receive an email. Replying to that email will send the student's assignment back to the instructor in the body of the message. Before sending the reply, please remove any identifying information in the assignment (e.g., if the student's name or student number is included) to ensure that the student's privacy is protected.

No. If your assignment is set up to store papers in the standard paper repository, deleting an assignment will only remove the submissions from Canvas. It will not remove them from Turnitin's databases.

To request deletion of student submissions from Turnitin, please contact us at the LT Hub. Deleting submissions from Turnitin itself is important if you think that future submissions should not be compared against the one(s) you are trying to delete.

Where can I get more support with Turnitin?

Technical support

If you have trouble with Turnitin:

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