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APA 7th Edition Referencing Guide: Turnitin Similarity Report

A Wintec Library guide to referencing in APA 7th edition style

Why use Turnitin?

Turnitin is an assessment tool used by your tutors, but you can use it as a tool too - to check that you have good Academic Integrity.

What does this mean?

  • You are paraphrasing ideas, instead of just copying them from your sources
  • You are referencing ideas and quotes when you need to (acknowledging where you information has come from)


How do I submit an assignment to Turnitin?

For instructions, see your tutor.

This is a help guide on interpreting your results once you've already made a submission.


OK. So I've turned in my assignment, but what do the different colours mean?


I have a higher percentage than I was expecting. What does this mean?

The truth is, there is no "perfect percentage".

Any piece of work will have some of the same words as other assignments, or have used the same sources as other assignments, so you will always have a percentage of matching words.

Your field of study might use a lot of jargon (specialised terminology).

For example, you might need to explain "negative equity" in your accounting assignment, or "lithotomy position" in your nursing assignment. Because there are no synonyms (words with the same or similar meaning), your jargon will likely show up as a match to several other students' assignments.

Your tutor will know this and take it into account.

Here's some other reasons why your percentage might be higher than you expected:

  • You have used the same sources as other students and will therefore have similarities in your reference list.
  • You have the same assignment format as other students. For example, the same assignment heading and sub-headings.
  • The use of tables and charts may show up as shared or copied data or statistics.
  • Paraphrasing can be highlighted, even if you have reworded it. So make sure you use in-text citations!
  • You have appendices. Other students might have used the same sources in their appendices, so it will show up as a match.
  • You have used quotations. These will show up as a match, so make sure you have referenced them.

In general, none of the above are reasons to be concerned if you are following academic integrity guidelines.

HOWEVER, if you are concerned, talk to your tutor.


But wait. My percentage is REALLY high. What now?

Check the following reasons for a high percentage - there might be an easy answer:

  • If it is the second or third time you have turned in the same assignment, Turnitin might be matching it to your earlier drafts.
  • You have not done enough paraphrasing (writing ideas that you found in your sources in your own words).
  • You have too many quotes. Remember, a good assignment will have a mixture of quotes and paraphrasing, but GREAT academic writing has a lot more paraphrasing than quotes.
  • You do not have enough in-text citations. All quotes must have a citation (Author, year, page/paragraph number). All ideas that you have found in your sources must be acknowledged with a citation. All citations must have a matching full reference in your reference list.
  • You have relied heavily on a single information source. This might not be avoidable, depending on the nature of your assignment. But remember, your tutor will be looking to see that you have researched your topic thoroughly (which means using a range of sources).
  • You have submitted a qualitative study, which necessitates using a lot of quotes and a large reference list. Both these things might be unavoidable due to the nature of the assignment.

Turnitin Similarity Report Demo - YouTube

The University of Portsmouth have created a helpful video showing you how to interpret your results once you've submitted an assignment to Turnitin. It is full of trips and tricks to get a more realistic similarity percentage (so that the percentage number on your report is not so scary). Watch it here.

Remember, it's not about the percentage, it's about how well you have referenced all of the ideas and sources you have found through your research process.

If you have any concerns about your Turnitin Similarity Report, please see your tutor.

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