Is Turnitin Accurate? Can Turnitin Be Wrong?

Plagiarism has been a prevalent problem in high schools, colleges, universities, and the publishing arena. This form of cheating involves using someone else’s work and ideas and submitting it as your work without properly acknowledging the owner.

This vice is regarded as a serious form of cheating that is punishable according to an institution’s plagiarism policy.

Professors and publishing companies have always found it hard to eradicate this menace. However, with the establishment of originality checking and plagiarism detection platforms such as Turnitin, their work is more simplified.

These platforms use matching algorithms to identify matching texts in papers which professors use to trace plagiarism.

However, different questions have been raised, questioning the authenticity and effectiveness of these platforms.

For instance, one would ask, is Turnitin accurate? To answer this question and more on Turnitin software, kindly read this article to the end.

Is Turnitin Plagiarism Checker Accurate?

Turnitin plagiarism checker is accurate. Students, educators, professional writers, and various educational institutions have widely accepted this platform in providing similarity indexes that they use to check for plagiarism.

Its vast popularity is an indication that it is usually accurate.

Remember, Turnitin has a vast repository of papers that have been submitted by students previously that it uses to compare with the paper you upload. In addition, this platform has a large database that contains billions of periodicals, academic publications, web pages, newspapers, books, and science journals.

Therefore, when you submit a per to Turnitin, it compares your work with its large database of papers and generates a similarity report accordingly.

Also see: Does Turnitin Check Other Students’ Papers from Previous Years

It is vital to understand that Turnitin employs a matching algorithm to detect strings of words and phrases in your paper that appear identical to those of billions of papers in its repository.

After comparing your work to its large database of previously submitted works, Turnitin produces a similarity report indicating the percentage of your paper that matches those in its database.

In addition, this platform also highlights the plagiarized parts in your submitted paper. It uses different colors to point out the phrases and ideas that match their source document.

It orders the matching texts from the highest to the lowest, with each match having a different color and number next to each.

Can Turnitin Be Wrong

Turnitin can be wrong. Studies carried out by various university researchers have found out that Turnitin sometimes makes mistakes in detecting and preventing plagiarism in students’ papers

Although Turnitin is viewed as possibly the most superior plagiarism checking and prevention software, it has its fair share of flaws.

For example, in some instances, these studies found that Turnitin finds matching strings of phrases and ideas but misses the correct sources from which the student copied the content.

In other cases, Turnitin results show false positives indicating similarity issues exist in a paper. For instance, when students use similar phrases because they are common, Turnitin will still show similarity.

In both cases, Professors must examine the papers to ascertain that some of the matching texts have not been plagiarized.

Also see: Does Turnitin check photos? 

In addition, Turnitin generates similarity reports by comparing the submitted paper with online documents.

This means that if a student copies ideas or phrases from physical books that are not on the internet, then Turnitin will not detect similarity, and the student will get away with the cheating.

However, most of the time, Turnitin is usually correct. The reason for this is that its matching algorithm is able to detect both direct plagiarism and patched plagiarism.

Furthermore, this platform has a large database to which it compares your paper, meaning that its chances of catching plagiarism are pretty high.

Is Turnitin Reliable?

Turnitin is reliable. When you compare Turnitin with other plagiarism detection and prevention software, this platform comes out at the top.

A recent study by various scholars awarded Turnitin a reliability score of 67 percent, a percentage higher than any other originality checking platform.

This indicated that this platform could be trusted and hence reliable.

Turnitin is deemed reliable because of its powerful matching algorithm and its large database of web pages and previously submitted pieces of writing, against which it compares the submitted papers.

Also see: Can Turnitin tell if I copy and paste? 

The originality report that it generates includes the gross percentage of the matching content, highlights of the matching texts, and the links to the sites from which the content has been copied.

Using the similarity report, an educator can exclusively assess a student’s paper to determine if it’s plagiarized.

Students whose professors have been allowed to use this platform can use it to enhance their papers before submitting them.

By accessing the similarity report, they can use this report to correct any mistakes in their articles and reference them appropriately.

How Accurate is Turnitin Similarity

Some studies carried out by various researchers from different educational institutions found that Turnitin can always almost detect about 40 percent of the sources in a piece of writing. However, this platform often misses 44 percent of these sources. Nevertheless, Turnitin is still the most employed originality checking software since this percentage is higher than other platforms. Sixty-seven percent of reviewers agree that Turnitin is accurate and hence reliable.

For this platform to truly serve its purpose, a human touch comes a long way in identifying if a student committed plagiarism or not.

However, it is meant to simplify the educators’ work in checking for plagiarism. Professors should interpret the similarity report to see if the matching portions have been plagiarized or not.

For example, where a student correctly puts a quote in quotation marks, that is not plagiarism

How to Interpret Turnitin Similarity

Typically, a Turnitin’s similarity report contains

  • The overall similarity index percentage
  • The assignment’s title
  • Different highlighted colors of the matching content
  • A match overview that indicates the sources from which the student lifted their content

That being said, The similarity percentage index ranges from 0-100 percent. Turnitin uses five colors, including Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red, to represent different ranges of matching texts

When the similarity index percentage indicates Blue, the paper has no matching string of text, which translates to an absence of references and direct quotes.

It is green when the matching content is between one and 24 percent. This is the most common percentage and indicates that the student might have copied without referencing the source.

Also see: Best Paraphrasing Tools to Beat Turnitin

The next color is yellow, which indicates that 25-49 percent of the content in the paper matches that found in Turnitin’s database.

Orange indicates that 50-74 percent of the student paper matches its sources, while Red translates to matching 75-100 percent content.

When the similarity percentage indicates any of these three colors, there is a high possibility that the student cut and pasted content from their sources or quoted information directly without referencing the sources properly

Is a Similarity of 33 on Turnitin Bad

A similarity percentage of 33 on Turnitin is bad. That means that there are high possibilities that the student copied some content or did not cite and reference their sources properly. 

However, depending on the length and nature of the assignment, your professor may consider the matched content to identify whether you plagiarized your paper or not.

For example, the proffessor may ignore the citations cited correctly, paraphrasing, charts and tables, matching formats, appendices, minor matches, references, and bibliography

Is a Similarity of 36 on Turnitin Bad

A similarity percentage of 36 on Turnitin is bad. The acceptable Turnitin’s similarity percentage appears within the green range which is below 25%. 

However, a similarity percentage of 36 percent is too much. This percentage indicates that Turnitin found lots of matching content in your paper.

Upon a closer inspection by your professor, there is a high likelihood that they will find traces of plagiarism in your work which they will treat as an infringement of academic integrity

How to Reduce Turnitin Similarity

Most students would bear witness that a high Turnitin similarity score can be one of the worst things to experience at school because it will land you in trouble with your professor or school.

Below is a list of some of the methods you could employ to reduce the Turnitin similarity score:

  • Letter swapping
  • Adding images and pictures to your document
  • Paraphrasing your work
  • Hiring an essay writing service
  • Referencing and citing your sources correctly


So, is Turnitin accurate? After carefully reading this article, you could agree that Turnitin is widely accepted because it is more accurate than other originality-checking software.

Nevertheless, if you are an educator, ensure to crosscheck the student’s paper after generating the originality report to see if the student plagiarized.