Turnitin: Can’t Live With It; Can’t Live Without It

I have a love-hate relationship with Turnitin. I love it because of its accuracy, the highlights and pointing out the text source but I hate it because of the same reason. For a semester, I taught technical writing in a local college and students are given the same page for instruction each time. They write their piece below it and voila, the Turnitin counter goes crazy making them all 100% plagiarized. Here goes accuracy!


Even if it’s 8:04 PM on the night before your paper is due, you can still take the time to get around Turnitin effectively.

In my campus, we got Turnitin combined with another curriculum-learning portal. The students submit their essays in the portal with an embedded Turnitin system. It was a disaster, at least when students has to follow the same format or the instruction given by the teacher. For the real plagiarism score, I need to look at them one by one.
But certainly, Turnitin as a software itself has many great features. It is also a sure fire way to get your students working diligently. I say, it is a foolproof system if you are serious about catching students who were sleeping on the job.

There are many suggested conventional trick to beat the Turnitin algorithm. Among them include confusing the program by swapping letters, or words, or phrases. Possible but doing so would probably cause more harm than good. Imagine spelling, context and content errors. Similarly, why not swap it with a letter from another language such as archaic, Germanic or Greek letters. Sounds innovative but as a teacher, I would worry about spelling and they certainly will all look like typos.

Another claim made by any is saving the file into .pdf instead of .doc or docx. Sounds clever? Nah. Turnitin reads .pdf too. Doing this silly trick will make screwed more than you already are.

Going against the algorithm of Turnitin is a futile exercise. The software is constantly updated hence there is no way you or your friends can trick the already tricky system.
However, there are ways to make sure you can around Turnitin plagiarism scan system.

  • Paraphrase, Paraphrase, Paraphrase. Next to good researching is excellent paraphrasing. Whenever you need a text from a source, you first need to understand, reflect on and paraphrase the text. Copy pasting is so 2000. Avoid it at all cost.
  • Rewrite but don’t change the meaning. One of the best ways to avoid getting a high Turnitin percentage is to make sure you know what the text is about. Once you have a full understanding, it is time to rewrite. Once rewritten, Turnitin would be able to compare patterns of writing. Yes, there are patterns.
  • Write it yourself. If you have that little gift of writing, nurture it. There is nothing better than celebrating a good honest grade than someone who resorted to the “easy way” out of college.

If you have no skill or time for writing, there are groups of writers who are more than willing to help you with your essay for a modest fee. Check for authenticity and avoid those who tends to overcharge knowledge!

So going back to the question, can you possibly cheat Turnitin?

Unless you are the program develop who knows the sequence codes, then maybe but if you know nothing about system designs, sit down and find time to write your own paper instead!


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