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. There are two ways to use Turnitin with Canvas: setting it up within a regular Canvas assignment or using Turnitin’s Feedback Studio tool. Both options show you the Turnitin Similarity report and provide settings to allow you to let students to see the report as well. The main difference between the two is that Feedback Studio contains a suite of robust commenting features. If you are interested in learning more about those features, see the “Learn more” links in Use the Turnitin external LTI tool in Canvas in the IU Knowledge Base.

Additional differences between the two options are detailed in the table below.

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

For more on using Turnitin, see the Best practices for teaching with Turnitin in the IU Knowledge Base.

NOTE: 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.

Using the Turnitin Canvas integration for an assignment

To create a Canvas assignment using Turnitin (also referred to as the Turnitin Plagiarism Framework)

  1. Go to the Assignment tool in the Canvas left side navigation.
  2. Click “+New Assignment.”
  3. Type in your assignment name and description and set your grading options as you would for any other assignment.
  4. Scroll down to the “Submission Type” setting and choose “Online | File Upload.”
  5. Scroll down to the “Plagiarism Review” setting immediately under the submission type and select “Turnitin” from the drop-down menu.
  6. Choose which repositories you would like the paper to be checked against (articles, websites, and other student papers)
  7. Choose what you would like excluded (references, text in quotation marks, or small sources (i.e. 2-3 words))
  8. If you would like students to see the Similarity Report, be able to correct errors, and resubmit before the due date, set the Turnitin options as follows.
    1. Store Submissions in: “Do not store the submitted papers” (If papers are stored, the resubmission will return a report showing almost everything is plagiarized because it’s comparing to the previous submission.)
    2. Show report to students: Immediately (Note that it’s not really immediately because it takes a few minutes to process. How long depends on the size of the paper and how busy their system is.)
  9. Add your due date at the bottom and Save and Publish the assignment.

Checking a single paper

Sometimes you will not have an assignment set up using Turnitin but will get a submission that you would like to check. You can submit the paper as the Canvas Test Student and see the resulting Similarity Report without requiring the student to resubmit the paper. There are two ways to do this:

  • edit the existing assignment and activate Turnitin as described above, or
  • create a generic assignment in a practice course site.

If you choose to edit the existing assignment and it has an Available Until date set for the assignment that has already passed you must remove the Available Until date to submit as Test Student. Once you have submitted the paper, you add the date back to the assignment. Students will not be automatically notified that the assignment has changed. Once Turnitin is enabled on the assignment, you can submit an assignment as Test Student.

If you would like to create a generic assignment in a practice course site but do not have a practice course site, you can create on by clicking the “Start a New Course” button on your Canvas dashboard or at the top of your All Courses page. Then you can follow the steps above to create your generic assignment using Turnitin. Make sure to publish the assignment so you can submit to it as Test Student.

Submitting an assignment as Test Student

Once you have your Turnitin-enabled assignment,

  1. Go to the course Home page or Settings page and click the Student View button on the right (It may be down at the bottom of the page if your screen is small). You’ll see a pink border appear around the Canvas window showing that you are in Student View.
  2. Navigate to the assignment, and submit the document you want to check.
  3. Leave Student View by clicking the Exit Student View button at the bottom right of the window.

You can then go to Speedgrader and review the Similarity Report for Test Student. Note that it takes a few minutes for the report to appear. Test Student will always be the last student on the roster in Speedgrader and Grades. You can resubmit to the same assignment as Test Student as many times as you like to check multiple papers. There will be a drop-down menu at the top right above the Score entry box to select the submission you would like to view. If you are submitting multiple papers, it really helps to make sure that the file you are submitting to Turnitin has an easily identifiable file name so you can tell them apart.

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.