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My university provides access to Turnitin for every student. I have prepared a manuscript ready for submission to a double-blind review conference for September 2023. Is it OK to use the plagiarism checker to assess the similarity index of my manuscript before submission? Would that be judged as plagiarised work since the review is double-blind?

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    Why would you want to do this if you honestly wrote the paper yourself?
    – Buffy
    Dec 27, 2022 at 0:45
  • The same page has "iThenticate ... plagiarism checking tool" (close to the "Similarity" product). Though the title of the Similarity page starts with "Plagiarism prevention trusted by educators worldwide". Very confusing. Dec 28, 2022 at 17:33
  • What tool exactly? "Similarity"? "iThenticate"? "Originality"? Something else? Dec 28, 2022 at 17:37
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    I would consider whether Turnitin will store the manuscript, and when a publisher uses Turnitin to check for plagiarism it will find a document that was submitted at your institution that is a 100% match. Dec 28, 2022 at 18:18
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    @FerventHippo As a course instructor in educational use, one can switch off the "upload to the Turnitin repository" facility. I'm guessing one can do the same as a managing editor in research use. Dec 29, 2022 at 15:36

4 Answers 4

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No, it's probably not OK: the Turnitin End User Licence Agreement says

You agree to use the Site and Services only as follows:... if You are a student, only in connection with a registered class in which You are enrolled.

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    +1 for having actually read the Terms And Conditions to get to a valid appropriate answer (even if it isn't the kind you'd expect for this kind of question here).
    – davidbak
    Dec 27, 2022 at 17:11
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    What if the publication is a result of wrapping up outputs of a module/class into a conference paper? Way back when I was in my MSc, we had a number of academics who were happy to help their students present the projects that were done as part of a course into a publishable paper (we also had some convenient local conferences with student tracks)
    – penelope
    Dec 29, 2022 at 13:45
  • @penelope I think for that level of subtlety, you need to ask a lawyer. Dec 29, 2022 at 15:21
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Turnitin is not a tool for checking plagiarism, but for similarity. They are not the same. High similarity does not imply plagiarism. Low similarity does not imply no plagiarism.

Also, if you honestly did all the work yourself, there isn’t any reason to use Turnitin.

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    While I agree with what you say, this does not answer the question. Dec 27, 2022 at 10:07
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    This is exactly the answer. If you didn't plagiarize you don't need a similarity checker. If you did use it and one of the referees wrongly uses it, you get accused of plagiarism as the text is now in the database. Only texts for which the author has given permission can be submitted, and as noted elsewhere only for classwork. Dec 28, 2022 at 0:16
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Is it OK to use the plagiarism checker to assess the similarity index of my manuscript before submission?

You can do whatever you want with texts you have written yourself. So yes, you may use Turnitin, no problem at all. As others have pointed out, you should know how to interpret the result, of course, and think about the difference between similarity and plagiarism.

Would that be judged as plagiarised work since the review is double-blind?

I do not get the logic behind this question. Using a tool such as Turnitin does not automatically imply that you plagiarised. And the type of the review process has nothing to do with it, either.

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  • I suppose the logic is that the tool might remember the paper and then, if the peers check it again, the work will be recognized as something 100% similar to the one stored in the previous check (that was done by the author).
    – Ruslan
    Dec 27, 2022 at 18:28
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    @Ruslan Particularly since, in a double-blind review process, the referees can't know that the author of the manuscript they're reviewing is the same person who previously submitted something 100% similar to Turnitin. (Same issue occurs in anonymous grading of undergraduate assignments.) Dec 27, 2022 at 20:35
  • "you may use Turnitin, no problem at all." according to one of the other answers, this may be a violation of the Turnitin terms of service. Dec 30, 2022 at 3:24
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As per Wikipedia:

Plagiarism is the fraudulent representation of another person's ... as one's own original work.

So no, "assessing the similarity index of your manuscript" is most certainly not plagiarism.

However, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnitin:

The essays submitted by students are stored in a database used to check for plagiarism

I'm not sure what exactly Turnitin does with the stored materials, e.g. who can access them. Since your work will be stored there, it can potentially violate the copyright required by your conference. I would check with the conference whether using Turnitin is allowed (and, as others already mentioned, I wouldn't use any such tool in the first place).

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