Last Updated on March 23, 2022 by Pius

Turnitin False Positive: it Says I Plagiarized, but I Didn’t

Are you alarmed when Turnitin reports that you plagiarized your paper, but you are sure you did not? The likelihood is that you are receiving Turnitin false positives or that your essay contains similarities to your references or web pages.

Plagiarism is a serious offense that writers must guard against. This article discusses some of the issues that a student should consider when confronted with plagiarism in the final draft. 

Why Turnitin Says I plagiarized, but I Didn’t

Even though you did not copy any content, Turnitin may occasionally award you a score indicating a high similarity index. This can be misinterpreted as plagiarism if the instructor does not consider the source of the corresponding text. Let us examine what to do in such a situation.

If Turnitin indicates that you plagiarized but did not, it is possible that you uploaded a draft of the paper before uploading the final file. Turnitin maintains a database of scanned papers. As a result, it flags your paper as plagiarized since it matches the draft in its repository. When a false positive occurs, the best course of action is to contact your tutor and explain the situation.

The same thing can happen if your paper contains a large number of references. That is because the instructors, and educational institutions, have instructed Turnitin to include the article in its database.

It will compare the essay to a previously saved draft. As such, it will award you a perfect score for plagiarism. The student should meet one-on-one with the lecturer to ascertain whether the instructor made such adjustments.

What To Do When Turnitin Shows False Positive

  1. Email Teacher

It might be a good idea to email your professor to establish a paper trail. However, keep the email polite and free of content that could work against you.

We recommend that you send this email to arrange a personal meeting. This is the appropriate meeting to determine whether they can drop the charges or not.

They may agree with you, or, in the worst-case scenario, they may proceed to charge the student with academic dishonesty.

You will be subjected to an academic hearing to ensure that the panel makes the correct decision regarding your action. Your paper will be accepted if you are innocent. Regrettably, if the paper contains genuine plagiarism, it may result in suspension or expulsion. 

  1. Check the Report

The student should review the report to determine the similarity percentage.

If the report indicates that the entire document is not original, attempt to reason with the instructor to ascertain the likelihood of such a report.

Allow the instructor to collaborate with the IT administrator to determine whether the paper was saved in the Turnitin database.

If the document is scanning against itself, this is an error that should be corrected.

  1. Cite Your Work

When confronted with instances of plagiarism in your submitted work, you can defend yourself to your tutor by citing your sources. You should demonstrate to your tutor that you conducted meaningful research and cited your sources. Such efforts will imply that you did an excellent job.

  1. Prove that You Did Not 

There are numerous ways to demonstrate that you did not plagiarize your work. For instance, you can submit the outline, drafts, or notes you create while preparing the disputed work to your tutor. This demonstrates that you put some effort into the paper’s development.

Additionally, you can boast additional evidence that demonstrates your abilities and knowledge. For instance, you can present your previous essay as evidence that you have never plagiarized from previous work.   

Can Turnitin be Wrong?

Although they did not copy, certain students uploaded their papers and received a positive match. This raises the question of whether Turnitin can be incorrect or provide a wrong score.

Turnitin cannot be wrong because it compares the text to existing texts in its database or on the internet. What is incorrect is not Turnitin but the individual who interprets the similarity report as plagiarism. A false-positive result occurs when two files are uploaded, or Turnitin checks your references as part of your paper.

It’s worth noting in this case that there is a distinction between matching text and plagiarism. A text match does not always imply plagiarism.

A text match demonstrates the similarity, but it must be interpreted. The source of the corresponding text and the nature of the text indicate whether or not you copied it.

For instance, if you correctly cited and quoted a lengthy passage from a source to bolster your arguments, this is not plagiarism because the passage is properly cited and referenced.

If you copied and pasted the text without crediting the source, it is considered plagiarism. It also constitutes plagiarism if you copied from an unreliable source or another student’s paper.

This is why there is no universally acceptable Turnitin score but rather a range of acceptable scores depending on the university or instructor. If you copied, a low score could be interpreted as plagiarism, whereas a high score could be interpreted as good.

How To Prove That You Did Not Plagiarize

When lectures accuse you of plagiarism when you did not, it can be daunting to clear your name.

That in and of itself does not imply that you ruined your destiny.

You have an opportunity to establish your innocence.

For instance, if you were a diligent individual with no instances of plagiarism, you can argue your case to the contrary. 

  1. Show your Sources

Many people do not intentionally plagiarize their work. It is possible they forgot to cite their sources.

If the faculty accuses you of plagiarizing your paper, you can defend yourself by providing evidence of your sources.

Ascertain that you include all references to the sources used to conduct your research. This may satisfy your tutor that you completed the assignment on your own.

Each paper should include a reference page and an in-text citation. You can still cite your article by including footnotes and endnotes in addition to assigning numbers to text. This is common when dealing with academic papers on humanity. To avoid plagiarism, you should be familiar with the paper’s formatting style and properly cite your sources. 

  1. Paraphrase your content

You can avoid plagiarism in your work by paraphrasing the infringing section. This is true for sentences in which you used more than three quotation marks. Turnitin will not detect any plagiarism if you paraphrase correctly.

The purpose of paraphrasing is to reduce the degree of similarity between two statements by explaining in your own words. It’s worth noting that synonyms are not synonymous with paraphrasing. That is because the synonyms’ meanings remain constant, causing Turnitin to detect them.

  1. Remain Honest 

The student should remain truthful only when confronted with allegations of plagiarism. Lying is a bad habit that can get you into trouble. You should ask yourself fundamental questions to determine whether or not you plagiarized.

If you are aware that you committed the offense, it is prudent to admit your guilt immediately. If you continue to tell lies, you risk complicating the lies.

  1. Prepare evidence of not copying 

You must amass all evidence necessary to establish your innocence. Among those items are the drafts, notes, and outline from which your final product was developed. As a result, the professor must grant the affected student the benefit of the doubt.

  1. Explain it as Unintentional Plagiarism 

Unintentionally, a student can plagiarize another’s work. Ascertain that you properly cite your sources to avoid being accused of plagiarism. If the act was unintentional, you might choose to meet with your instructor and accept responsibility for your actions.

Admit that the act occurred due to a mistake and request time to correct the pending error. You can make a promise that you will not repeat the action. This simplifies matters because professors are aware that such instances do occur. 

  1. Avoid Giving Up

When accused of plagiarism, the student should not give up if they did not commit plagiarism. One may choose to take any action necessary to demonstrate that they were not involved in the plagiarism offense. If the instructor is not listening to you, you can find another instructor who will.

One way is to approach higher authorities to increase your chances of proving your innocence. This is a way of enquiring about your reputation and coursework grades. 

How to Reduce Turnitin Plagiarism Score

  1. Avoid Copying Word by Word

Another technique for removing similarity is to avoid repeating similar matches of 5 to 8 words.

It might be advantageous when dealing with frequently used terms, quotations, or writing bibliographies.

This method is appropriate for students working under the strict supervision of their tutors.

Notably, Turnitin does not flag this report as plagiarized.

However, it will highlight any overlapping text found in your works.

  1. Use Quotation Mark

By using quotation marks, you can reduce the degree of similarity. They should be centered on the text you extracted from the cited context. Without these quotation marks, Turnitin will interpret the text as plagiarized. Make sure to use double quotation marks rather than a single one.

  1. Avoid Excess Quotes 

Another possibility is to avoid excessive quotations. If you use excessive quotations, it implies that you did not conduct adequate research. Excessive quotation marks will increase the likelihood of Turnitin detecting similarity.