During the Semester

17 Checking for plagiarism in assignments submitted through Canvas

IU has a contract with Turnitin that allows instructors to use the tool to check student work within Canvas. For more on using Turnitin, see the Best practices for teaching with Turnitin in the IU Knowledge Base. Note that you cannot use Turnitin to compare two papers side-by-side. If you would like to check for the same text in two different Word docs, use the MS Word “Compare” function. Instructions are available at Compare document differences using the legal blackline option on the Microsoft website.

There are two ways to use Turnitin with Canvas: using the TII integration with your regular Canvas assignment or having students submit directly to TII using Turnitin’s Feedback Studio tool.  The differences between the two options are detailed in the table below. If you are interested in learning more about TII Feedback Studio, see the “Learn more” links in Use the Turnitin external LTI tool in Canvas in the IU Knowledge Base.

Feature In Canvas Feedback Studio
Students submit their assignment to Canvas Yes No, students submit directly to Turnitin
Supports Canvas group assignments Yes No
Grading and feedback to students Speedgrader Either Speedgrader or Turnitin
Student peer reviews Peer reviews use the Canvas Peer Review tool Peer reviews use Turnitin PeerMark
Rubrics Canvas rubrics Rubrics must be added to Turnitin
Submit multiple files to an assignment and get a Similarity Report on each file Yes No

Creating an assignment using the Turnitin Canvas integration

To create a Canvas assignment where all student work is sent through Turnitin when they submit the assignment, you would use the Plagiarism Review option in the Canvas Assignment settings.

  1. Create a new assignment or click the “Edit” button on an existing assignment.
  2. Scroll down to the “Submission Type” setting and choose “Online | File Upload.”
  3. Scroll down to the “Plagiarism Review” setting and select “Turnitin” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Choose which repositories you would like the paper to be checked against (articles, websites, and other student papers)
  5. Choose what you would like excluded (references, text in quotation marks, or small sources (i.e. 2-3 words))
  6. If you would like students to see the Similarity Report, be able to correct errors, and resubmit before the due date, make sure the Submission Attempts setting is set to more than one Show report to students is set to “Immediately” (Note that it’s not always immediately as it can take a few minutes to process. How long depends on the size of the paper and how busy their system is.)
  7. Save the assignment.

Checking single papers

Student Assignments

If you would like to see the Similarity Report on a particular submission that did not have Turnitin enabled on the assignment, you can submit the paper yourself in Student View to any Turnitin-enabled assignmentIf you rarely need to check a single paper, using an existing assignment is the easiest.

  1. If you already have an assignment set up with Turnitin, even if it’s in a different course, you can use it to check any paper in Student View
  2. If you don’t have any assignments set up with Turnitin, you can edit the assignment in question to use Turnitin by following the instructions above then use Student View to check the paper.

If you use either of these methods, make sure to check for an “Available Until” date on the assignment. You won’t be able to submit a paper in Student View if the Available Until date has passed. If your assignment has an Available Until date, you’ll need to remove the date, submit the paper in Student View, and then re-add the Available Until date. 

Personal writing or student writing not associated with a class

If you occasionally need to check individual papers that are not associated with a class, such as personal writing or writing by students you are mentoring, it is better to use a Canvas practice course site. A practice course site allows you to set up an assignment for each article or a generic assignment that you can re-use to check any sort of writing you may have. If you don’t already have a practice course site, the IU Knowledge Base provides instructions for creating a Canvas course site that you can use for this purpose. Follow the instructions above to create the assignment and make sure to set it to have unlimited submissions to be able to resubmit additional papers at a later date.

If you regularly need to check papers that are not associated with a class, such as program, scholarship, or internship applications, please contact your Center for Teaching and Learning to request a Turnitin account separate from Canvas.

Checking a single paper in Student View

Once you have a Turnitin assignment set up, to check an individual paper:

  • Go to the assignment and click the Student View button at the top right of the page. (Don’t click the edit button. You won’t see the Student View button when editing the assignment.)
  • Submit the paper.
  • Click the “Exit Student View” button at the bottom right of the page in the pink bar.
  • Wait a few minutes. Depending on the size of the document and how busy the Turnitin servers are, it could take up to a half-hour.
  • Click on the Speedgrader button on the assignment, navigate to Test Student at the bottom of the student list dropdown, and check for the Similarity Report.
To download a pre-formatted template for a Turnitin Assignment where students see the Similarity Report and can revise and resubmit, go to Canvas Commons by clicking the Commons icon () in the red navigation bar on the left of any Canvas page and search for “Turnitin report assignment template.”


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A Canvas Semester Checklist by Trustees of Indiana University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.