Turnitin is a web based service that creates unique digital "fingerprints" of each document submitted to the system. These fingerprints are compared with others in the database for originality. The system also uses information from academic resources, online encyclopedias, news agencies, and other sources likely to be used for plagiarism.
Instructors can submit students' papers electronically to Turnitin or create a Dropbox folder in Learn@ UWSuperior that allows the students to submit the papers. The papers are checked against the database to determine the originality of the work. A report comes back with a score indicating how likely the paper is to be original work, including the sources of matches found. If the matching source is determined to be from a paper authored by another student, the instructor may then request a copy of the original paper to review. The instructor who is reviewing the paper would seek permission from the instructor whose student's work was listed as a source. Permission must be granted before the paper is released. The Turnitin service does not govern the release of the student's work; it just facilitates the connection between the instructors.
Since July 2006, UW-Superior has used Turnitin to help instructors improve their students' critical thinking and composition skills as well as check for improper citation or potential plagiarism. It also protects our students' original work from being used without citation by another person, and serves as a learning tool to help instructors and students better identify and correct unintentional plagiarism.
A more detailed explanation can be found on the Privacy Pledge statement at the Turnitin website.
The Turnitin service complies with FERPA, COPPA and copyright laws and requirements.