Wayne State College

Interpreting the Similarity Report

It is perfectly natural for an assignment to match against some of our database. If you have used quotes and have referenced correctly, there will be instances where we will find a match. The similarity score simply makes your instructor aware of any problem areas in your paper; they will then use this as a tool as part of a larger process, in order to determine if the match is or is not acceptable.

Turnitin match overview


Similarity Score

Similarity Reports provide a summary of matching or highly similar text found in a submitted paper. When a Similarity Report is available for viewing, an icon will appear in the Similarity column of the Assignment Inbox. Similarity Reports that have not yet finished generating are represented by a grayed out icon in the Similarity column. Reports that are not available may not have generated yet, or assignment settings may be delaying the generation of the report.

Turnitin similarity scores


Note: Overwritten or resubmitted papers may not generate a new Similarity Report for a full 24 hours. This delay is automatic and allows resubmissions to correctly generate without matching to the previous draft.

The color of the report icon indicates the similarity score of the paper, based on the amount of matching or similar text that was uncovered. The percentage range is 0% to 100% The possible similarity indices are:

    Blue: No matching text

    Green: One word to 24% matching text

    Yellow: 25-49% matching text

    Orange: 50-74% matching text

    Red: 75-100% matching text


Similarity Scoring Examples


Example 1

You may have submitted a paper to Turnitin in the past. If you included your name on that submission, it is entirely possible that your name is highlighted in their Similarity Report.

Tip: In most cases, excluding 5 words should safely exclude a student's name from being highlighted in their Similarity Report. Ask your instructor to exclude by word number.


Example 2

You may have used Turnitin to submit drafts of the same paper, meaning your final draft has resulted in a score of 100%.

Tip: If your instructor as instructed you to submit your paper multiple times, simply request that they exclude your previous submissions from the Similarity Report.


Example 3

You may have a firm basis of knowledge for the same assignment you've submitted; knowing enough to gather information from several sources to quote and reference correctly has a similarity score of 22%. In comparison, a student may have copied and pasted a chunk of text into their paper, due to a lack of knowledge on the topic they are covering. Their similarity score is 20%. Both students will be shown to have matches against our database. However, you provided properly sourced quotes and the other student copied directly from a website.

Tip: You may benefit from requesting that your instructor opts to exclude quotes from the Similarity Report.


Example 4

A student has managed to acquire a copy of your paper. They submit this paper to Turnitin on 15th October and receive a similarity score of 25%. However, when you submit your paper to Turnitin a week later, you receive a 100% similarity score.

Tip: In this case, it is important to contact your instructor to request that they regenerate the Similarity Report of the student who plagiarized; this will immediately identify collusion, allowing your instructor to follow institutional regulation.


Example 5

You have submitted a qualitative study to Turnitin, including a significant number of quotes and an extensive bibliography, as required for the topic of the paper. Your similarity score is 53%, exceeding the acceptable score set by your institution.

Tip: You may benefit from requesting that your instructor opts to exclude quotes and bibliography from the Similarity Report.

Last Updated: 06/06/18