What is Turnitin

Turnitin is web-based text-matching software that works by comparing electronically submitted papers to billions of pages of content located on the Internet and proprietary databases as well as the work of other students’ papers submitted to the Turnitin repository. The North-West University has an institutional license for Turnitin, which is embedded into the Assignments tool of eFundi.

Although it is highly recommended that the student should submit his/her own work, there are instances that a lecturer may decide to submit the assignment on behalf of the student.

Important note: Turnitin does NOT identify plagiarism – only similarities. The lecturer/study leader has to work through the reports to determine whether similarities are in fact plagiarism.

Why use Turnitin

Turnitin is a software used by various universities to detect possible plagiarism in academic work produced by students. But detecting plagiarism is a misconception since the tool cannot identify the act of commiting plagiarism. Rather, it picks up possible matches between texts that may have been paraphrased and not referenced sufficiently. As such, Turnitin matches text submitted by a student to a number of sources, including the internet, published material, databases and assignments that have previously been lodged by students, researchers and writers alike.
It is valuable as a feedback mechanism to help students learn what constitutes plagiarism and to help them to develop their academic writing skills and acknowledgement of other’s invaluable contribution to their respective fields. Turnitin can serve as an integral tool in conjunction with other teaching strategies to help address issues in academic writing among students.
Use Turnitin as a teaching opportunity for enhancing writing skills and produce more ethical academic writers.


Contact the T&L Technologies Helpdesk:

  Log a request

Click on  “Something is not working”  >>  “T&L Technology Support”.

Central Helpdesk Contact number: 018 285 5930

Available on weekday 08:00am - 16:45pm



Can I get assistance directly from Turnitin Support?

Yes, when our eFundi staff cannot assist you in your inquiry related to Turnitin, they may guide you to the Turnitin support where you can log a case request directly to them.
Remember to include as much detail as possible to enable them to assist you.
For logging a case request with Turnitin Support, click here.

I am a lecturer and a post-graduate student, how do I obtain a Turnitin report for my research papers and thesis?

It is the responsibility of the lecturer, study leader, study promotor, or study supervisor to create a site in eFundi where students can upload their assignments. This can typically be your normal course site for your module OR in the case of post-graduate studies you can create a separate site(s) for the purpose of submitting the work of your students. Follow the tutorials on Setting up an assignment for your students  and Submitting on behalf of your student to learn more.

What is an acceptable percentage from my Turnitin report?

The eFundi helpdesk cannot decide this. For this reason, it is best to consult the ethics committee of your particular school or faculty. It is however best practice to keep this percentage as low as possible, but a keeping in mind that 0% is almost impossible.

Why is there and error in my Turnitin report?

There are a few reasons for this common error, and may include one of the following:

  • The title of the document submitted has a special character, e.g. !@#.$%
  • The document is corrupt or has a virus
  • The student’s email address linked on eFundi does not correlate with the one registered to the administrative offices
  • There is an internal error with the Assignments tool

Regardless of the reason for the error, ALWAYS check the status of your assignment submission within 24 hours. When an error has indeed occurred contact your eFundi Helpdesk immediately for assistance.

Can I access my students' reports directly from the Turnitin website?

Yes, you can access your students' Turnitin reports via the Turnitin website. For steps on how to do so, please click here.

Can I submit as the lecturer multiple papers in order to have reports generated for each paper?

No, this will unfortunately not be possible in either the Assignments tool, the Turnitin External tool or in the Turnitin software itself. For each report that needs to be generated an individual assignment will need to be submitted.


What is plagiarism

There are many understandings of what constitutes plagiarism. In short it refers to the wilful use of another person’s work and passing it off as your own. This in other words reflects intellectual theft and is regarded as a serious crime in academic institutions.

Turnitin has identified 10 spectra of plagiarism:

The plagiarism spectrum


How to avoid plagiarism

Turnitin is in actuality a similarity checker, and with the millions of articles available out there it is nearly impossible to avoid compiling a sentence that is 100% original. Be that as it may, sometime the urge to simply copy and paste can take over. Here are a few pointers to avoid the urge and become an ethical users or words:

  • Read, read and once more read on your topic. Having more than one opinion will avoid over using one source.
  • Doing thorough research before you write will help you formulate an informed opinion on your topic.
  • Structure your work in a way that it reflects the flow of your ideas.
  • And lastly, but most importantly, REFERENCE! Obtain your copy of the NWU standard reference guide here .

How to use Turnitin

The Turnitin Originality Check service is fully integrated within the Assignments tool of eFundi. Assignments are submitted to the Turnitin website via eFundi, to be checked for similarities against other texts available on the Internet and within the Turnitin databases.

Lecturer / Study leader / Study promoter / Study supervisor






More resources

  • For more information on Plagiarism and Copyright issues, please visit the NWU Library's site on Copyright and Plagiarism.
  • For guidance on interpreting the Turnitin similarity report, you are also welcome to view the recorded webinar from the developers of Turnitin. To view the recording, click here. Please take note though, that in our current licence we may not have all the functionality as is shown in their presentation.
  • For more information on the Assignments tool and other eFundi tools please visit the eFundi support pages: