Turnitin: Types of matched text

Where matched text is acceptable

There are certain types of matched text that it is normal to find and will be taken into account by the tutor viewing the work. These include:

  • Quotations: Properly referenced quotations can be ignored and will be recognised by your tutor. If the matched text were not presented as a quotation, this would most likely indicate something for the tutor to investigate further when reviewing the Similarity Report. Note: Turnitin has an option to filter out matches to quotations in your work, where text has inverted commas ” ” around it or it has been indented, or where there is a citation with a page number. This filter might not always be used by your tutors and in this case quotations can still show as matches.
  • References and bibliography: Other students will have used the same references as you at some point and these will show up. You can click a link to exclude references in a similar way to quotations. Turnitin will automatically exclude references under the heading References or Bibliography at the end of a paper.
  • Matching formats: e.g. the same essay title or standard section headings.
  • Tables and Charts showing shared or copied data or statistics. You should ensure that these are also properly cited in your assignment.
  • Appendices may also have a large amount of matching text, as other students may well have used the same material. Again, ensure they have been referenced.
  • Small matches: The Similarity Report will by default highlight text in a sentence with 6 or more matched words to another source. Note: In some cases your tutor might edit the settings in the Similarity Report to only show matches with a greater number of words to prevent small matches appearing.
  • Commonly used terminology or phrases used in a subject can be picked up, and these can be safely ignored,
  • Paraphasing: When putting something you’ve read into your own words, you may well include words that can be found in the original source and the Similarity Report will highlight words in your paraphrasing that match the source. As long as you have cited the source, then this is fine. You cannot avoid matches by changing a just a few words from the source. The report will still pick it up.

Matches with previous students’ work

If the report shows that something you’ve written matches text submitted by another student, it will show the date of submission and the university it is from. It won’t show you their text. If this is a large percentage match to a single source, it could indicate to a tutor that there has been collusion, where two or more students have copied each other’s work.

But it is more likely to show that you have used text from the same written source, perhaps a textbook as someone else. The Turnitin database doesn’t contain a comprehensive list of books, and this is the most common way for these sources to show up. Don’t worry about these type of matches, if you have properly referenced your source as a quotation then this can be ignored.


More help: Use the Academic Integrity Toolkit to help you reference your wok correctly and find out how Turnitin can help you with your referencing.