X Close

Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'Turnitin' Category

Turnitin Maintenance 5th March, 15:00 – 19:00 GMT

By Domi C Sinclair, on 22 February 2016

The Digital Education team have received the following notification from Turnitin that they will be carrying out maintenance on the 5th March between 15:00 – 19:00 GMT. This means the system will be unavailable during this time. All tutors and/or course administrators are advised to ensure they do not have submission deadlines during this time.


From Turnitin:

Scheduled Maintenance on March 5th

Hello there,

Turnitin services may be intermittently unavailable during a scheduled maintenance period on Saturday, March 5, 2016 from 7 AM to 11 AM U.S. Pacific Time tinyurl.com/h5snhk7<http://go.turnitin.com/e/45292/h5snhk7/6jvb9s/522863099>.

An announcement will appear for users within Turnitin in advance of when the system will be unavailable for this scheduled maintenance. This maintenance will affect Turnitin and TurnitinUK users.

Instructors are encouraged to modify assignment due dates either before or at least several hours after the scheduled maintenance window.

Migration to Turnitin Single Version

By Domi C Sinclair, on 15 February 2016

As you may or may not know UCL is currently running two versions of the Turnitin plugin in Moodle. However when we do the summer upgrade of Moodle (22nd – 27 July) we will be removing one of these version of the plugin. During the upgrade process we will be removing Turnitin v1, meaning that after the upgrade is completed we will have only Turnitin v2 left on the Moodle system.

There are a few reasons why we are making this change, although the main reason is that Turnitin v1 is nearing the end of its life cycle. Turnitin are currently trying to phase out the plugin, and the version of Moodle we need to upgrade is not compatible with Turnitin v1. Therefore we will be transitioning to using only Turnitin v2. This single version will make it much easier for Digital Education to offer support with Turnitin issues, and it will also mean that support documentation is less confusing if you are unsure which version you are using.

Some of you may already be using Turnitin v2, if this is the case then you will simply to continue doing as you have been doing. If you are currently using Turnitin v1 then you may wish to look at our documentation for Turnitin v2. Hopefully you will see that the two versions work pretty much the same, although we think Turnitin v2 can be easier to use as it only has two screens to use – the submission inbox and the settings. (Please note: there are also ‘Turnitin Tutor’ and ‘Turnitin Student’ tabs but these are only for institutions that use both the Moodle plugin and access Turnitin directly through the web, which we do not do at UCL).

Some of the many other benefits of Turnitin v2 are as follows:

Easier to support – as mentioned before, if there is only 1 version to support we don;t need to spend time figuring our which version you are using. This also eliminates the risk of misunderstanding when communicating about errors that affect particular versions.
Easier to use (edit dates within settings) – All the settings for Turnitin v2 can be found in a single place, the settings page, this makes it much easier to use.
Submit any file type – It is possible to allow the submission on any file type in a Turnitin v2 assignment. However please note files that cannot be rendered in the document viewer will simply appear as a downloadable link, but you can still use many GradeMark features with them. For more information about file types that will render in the document viewer, please see our FAQ on compatible file types.
Single view submission inbox – This has also been mentioned else where but it is worth mentioning again. Unlike Turnitin v1, which has many different tabs to navigate between, Turnitin v2 as a single view submission inbox. (As previously stated please ignore the Turnitin Tutor and Turnitin Student tabs, these relate to direct web access which is unsupported at UCL).
Grade nothing – It is possible to grade offline work via Turnitin v2. Simply click on the grade (pencil) icon next to an empty submission to generate a ‘Grading Template’. This is presented in the document viewer as a plain sheet of paper with a Turnitin logo. You can then use all the normal GradeMark features including voice comments and rubrics.
Ability to email non-submitters – Turnitin v2 has a button in the submission inbox that allows you to email all students who have not yet submitted, even if anonymous marking is enabled. This will allow you to prompt those who still need to complete submission, without having to struggle around issues of anonymity.
Bulk download GradeMarked papers (after post-date) – Unlike Turnitin v1, with Turnitin v2 it is possible to bulk download GradeMarked papers after the post-date. This means all the grades, quick marks, comments and rubrics are included in the download. You can read more about how this works in our Turnitin FAQs.

If you would like to see a video demonstrating some of the above benefits then you can do so on our YouTube Channel.

Finally, you may be wondering about your existing Turnitin v1 assignments. These will all remain functional and accessible after the transition. All previous assignments will be available in the Moodle Snapshot. For any submission expected after the summer upgrade (22nd – 27th July 2016) we do ask that you set these up using Turnitin v2. 

As the use of the two version is fairly similar there will be no official face-to-face training sessions run by Digital Education, but if you would like to see more about how to set up a Turnitin v2 assignment please see our videos on our YouTube channel.

If you would like to read more about the Moodle Summer Upgrade you can do so else where on our blog.


An Improvement to Similarity Scoring

By Domi C Sinclair, on 11 February 2016

The way the originality report is calculated in Turnitin will be changing slightly. We have received the following email from Turnitin:



At Turnitin, we appreciate the importance of the Originality Report, and we are constantly seeking to deliver more reliable matches and a comprehensive Originality Report to our users.

What’s changing?

Starting in March, when bibliographic material is excluded from an Originality Report, we will recalculate the Similarity Score based on the remaining content only. This update will provide you with a more accurate score.

What does this mean?

As an example, this means that by opting to exclude a bibliography that constitutes 10% of a paper, we will now generate a report according to 90% of that paper, rather than calculating reports out of 100%.

How will this affect my assignments?

For assignments that have not yet passed their due date, all reports will automatically regenerate in line with the improvement. Rest assured that reports for closed assignments will not be updated. If you have open assignments, we advise logging in to check regenerated reports, as this update may cause a slight increase to a paper’s Similarity Score.

How can I ensure that all Originality Reports are aligned with this improvement?

If you’d prefer that all existing reports are aligned with our update (specifically for papers submitted to current assignments), you can simply opt to regenerate reports from the Document Viewer.

If I extend the due date for a closed assignment, will this affect current Originality Reports?

By extending a closed assignment’s due date – therefore reopening the assignment – all reports in the assignment will regenerate to align with our update.


This update is not controlled by UCL and will be implemented by Turnitin outside of our control. However if you do have any concerns you’d like us to pass along to Turnitin then please let us know and we can do this for you.

FIXED: Issue with Turnitin post-dates for anonymous assignments

By Domi C Sinclair, on 21 January 2016

Before the Christmas break we contacted you to say that we had identified and confirmed with Turnitin UK there was bug with Turnitin assignments set to anonymous marking.

At the time we advised against editing the post-dates on assignments as this was linked to the problems.

We are now pleased to announce that Turnitin have contacted us to confirm the problem has been resolved permanently. Last night they applied a fix to their part of the system (which is where the problem was occurring).

This means it is now safe to change post-dates without losing grades.

If you do experience any problems please contact the ISD Service Desk.

Turnitin UK User Group – October 2015

By Domi C Sinclair, on 30 October 2015

Last week I attended the annual Turnitin UK User Group, which this time was hosted in Westminster, London. The user group gave me (and by extension E-Learning Environments/ UCL) an opportunity to ask questions directly to Turnitin and to learn more about up-coming developments to the system.
A focus of the day was the large amount of restructuring and staff changes Turnitin have gone through over the last year. This means they have now created a dedicated team for Moodle and have moved to an agile product development framework called Scrum. Hopefully this will mean that any required bug fixes or feature changes can be carried out much more quickly than in the past (when they were using the Waterfall framework), however only time shall tell. They were also keen to emphasise that the huge scale of the changes is still sinking in and it could take a bit more time for them to fully adjust.
What’s new?
One of the much anticipated features that has been added to Turnitin version 2 (V2) is the ability to email non-submitters. This means that even in anonymous marking mode, you can easily email a reminder to all students who have not submitted.
Unfortunately it looks like it will still be a while until the highly requested ability to carry out double blind marking is available. Turnitin currently estimate it won’t be available until 2017. Apparently this is due to very localised demand for such a feature, with the UK & Australia being the only places that require it. As Turnitin is a global service they often have to dedicate their resources to enhancements that will benefit all of their customers. At least it is still in their plans, and we will continue to pressure them to make the feature available as soon as possible.
Accuracy was mentioned as one of the companies key priorities, which you would hope it would be as they market themselves as a ‘plagiarism detection’ service. In light of this they are working to expand and improve their database, which student submissions are matched against. Currently the database includes:
  • 57 billion web pages
  • 143 million STM journals
  • 570 million essays
  • 26 million students

They are aiming to improve this with a new deeper crawler called ‘Walker’, which not only goes deeper into webpages and documents but also has the ability to crawl Java script links.

Turnitin Next
After the version 1 and version 2 plugins will come Turnitin Next, which should offer a better experience for both staff and students. UCL are signed up to the beta programme so that we (ELE) can get our hands on this new product first and make sure that it is suitable for use with the rest the UCL community before releasing it live on Moodle. As we start to learn more about this new product and review it within the team we will be sure to keep you all updated.
The new integration leads to a re-vamped document viewer and grading interface that looks in, the promotional videos, like it will be a lot easier to use. Everything is controlled by a single side panel, rather than having to switch between tabs as in the current document viewer. This new viewer also includes features such as:
  • Formatting for bubble comments
  • Context menu when adding an in-line comment
  • Rubrics represented as sliders
  • Thumbnail view to navigate document
What else?
Some of the other items on Turnitin’s tentative roadmap (which they stressed is subject to change) are:
  • Non integer grades – estimated to arrive in  Q3 2016
  • Individual extensions – estimated to arrive in Q1/2 2016

They also said that they were planning to launch a research project into how group work might be facilitated in Turnitin. As this is only at the very initial stages I would caution it will be a while until anything is produced (if ever depending on the outcome of the research). For group submissions I would still recommend Moodle assignments, you can find out more about how this works in the UCL Moodle Resource Centre wiki.

Turnitin outage – 19th September 2015

By Domi C Sinclair, on 7 September 2015

We have just received the following message from Turnitin:


Service Announcement

Scheduled Maintenance on September 19th

Turnitin services will be mostly unavailable during a scheduled maintenance period on Saturday, September 19, 2015 from 15:00 to 19:00 UK time Time (see local time: tinyurl.com/p9jumkk).

Instructors are encouraged to modify assignment due dates either before or at least several hours after the scheduled maintenance window.


ELE would echo this sentiment and kindly encourage all tutors and course administrators to ensure due dates are clear of this maintenance window if you are using the Turnitin system.

If you have any questions please email ele@ucl.ac.uk