Interpreting Originality Reports

Interpreting Originality Reports

This guide will provide a brief introduction to interpreting Originality Reports in Turnitin via Moodle.

Similarity Score

Turnitin (TII) Originality reports highlight sections of your writing that are a near or exact match to other texts, like peer papers, internet materials, other scholarly publications, and even your own previously submitted work. This tool is intended to help you improve your writing and avoid plagiarism.

Turnitin searches the text in your submitted file for existing matches in the Turnitin database. It then highlights the matching text in an Originality Report. Once you’ve pulled up your Originality Report in Moodle, the top right-hand side of the page will show your assignment’s similarity score:

Match Overview

The left column contains the text of the student paper. The text that matches materials in the Turnitin database is highlighted on the right:

The Match Overview pane on the right contains a list of the sources within the Turnitin database that match the highlighted text in the student paper. Each of the highlighted sections of text will have a number that corresponds to the list of matches on the right.

In this instance, the writer is using a direct block quotation and has cited the material. However, the writer needs to include either a page or paragraph number to complete the citation. When that information is added, this instance should not count toward the similarity score.

It is important to note that Turnitin will not evaluate the nature of the matches found. It will be your job to evaluate what the matches indicate. Because Turnitin will flag properly cited material, a high similarity percentage does not always indicate plagiarism. Similarly, a paper with a low similarity index can still have strings of text that have been improperly cited. Instead of focusing on reaching a certain percentage, you should review the results by individual match.

Show Matches

Clicking any of the highlighted sections of the paper will expand the match context via a full source view. This allows you to see how that information was presented in the original source.


In this second match instance, the writer has nearly copied the original source word-for-word and the passage is poorly paraphrased. This is an example of a passage that needs to be reworked.

Keep In Mind

Finally, there are some important questions to keep in mind when assessing content with high similarity scores, such as:

  • Is the highlighted portion of the work cited appropriately?
  • Is the material correctly paraphrased or summarized?
  • Can this information be presented without long quotations?
  • Is the information conveyed in my own words?
  • Does the similarity score meet  EBU’s student guidelines academic misconduct policy expectations?