Deciphering your Turnitin report

Academic News & Updates

Uploading your paper to Turnitin can be a task in and of itself – especially if you are not particularly familiar with the website. And once you finally upload it successfully, and waited 247 minutes for it to generate a similarity report, you now have a report to decipher and changes to make to ensure that you are producing a quality research study.

Most schools require a similarity of 12% or less. This is reasonable as long as you exclude your reference list and have limited the use of direct quotes in your content. When you open the report, you will notice highlighting in the body of the paper that is color coordinated with percentages that are arranged in a panel along the right side of the screen. These percentages will be arranged from highest to lowest.

As you make your way through the paper, you will want to formulate a plan of attack to reduce the similarity as efficiently as possible. The first thing to note is that simply changing a word or two within each flagged area is not going to have enough of an impact. Oftentimes, the sentence will need a bit of rearranging when there are strings of words flagged. This is because Turnitin recognizes not only matching words and sentences, but it can recognize word patterns too… this can be problematic if you used information from another source and simply used a Thesaurus or synonym generator to find appropriate replacements. Changes will need to be made to flagged word strings of three or more. Remember that you are the expert, too. You know this stuff; and there is almost always another way to say or reword your sentence without sounding like Yoda. Make your way diligently through the document to be sure that you have made any and all changes that you possibly can.

Also, your headings and other information that comes from your school template are going to be flagged… and if they do not get flagged, you should revisit the template or guide because they may be done wrong. Resist the urge to change these parts, as this will cause much more of an issue for your progression through the dissertation process than any reasonable level of similarity.

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