Beyond Turnitin:

a pedagogical framework for identifying plagiarism in student writing

Nadya Yakovchuk


Effective plagiarism detection is one of the pillars of the holistic approach to addressing plagiarism. Specialised electronic detection software that can assess the degree of textual similarity of a piece of writing against a database of sources has been steadily gaining in popularity in recent years. Although electronic tools such as Turnitin UK offer wide scope of opportunity with regard to systematic screening of student work, they have built-in restrictions which do not allow them to serve as a ‘panacea’ for plagiarism identification.

This paper draws on a study of plagiaristic practices of undergraduate students at the University of Warwick, UK, and presents a Plagiarism Identification Framework developed in the course of this study. The elements of the Framework are described and the results of its application to student writing are presented, with reference to the Turnitin UK output received for the same samples of student writing. The paper considers the strengths and limitations of the two procedures for identifying plagiarism and discusses pedagogical implications of the proposed Plagiarism Identification Framework for EAP and subject tutors.

This paper was submitted to the International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference which ran between 2004-2014. The paper was peer reviewed by an independent editorial board and features in the conference proceedings.