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For Faculty, TAs & Students

Guidelines for the Use of Text Matching Software Services

The following guidelines for the use of text matching software services in courses offered at York University have been developed by the Academic Integrity Advisory Group, working in consultation with the Senate Committee on Curriculum and Academic Standards, the Senate Appeals Committee and the Office of the Vice-President Academic. Turnitin.com, the text matching service the University has made available to faculty for the past several years, is recognized as a valuable tool that can be used to promote academic honesty and avoid plagiarism. These guidelines have been designed to ensure that when Course Directors elect to use text matching software in their courses, students are aware of this requirement and informed of alternatives open to them should they not wish to use such software. Of equal importance, the guidelines will also include instructions for how students can use this software to independently check their work, using this as a learning opportunity for avoiding inadvertent plagiarism.

Instructions for the use of Turnitin.com are available on this Academic Integrity Website and through the Centre for Support of Teaching.


Guidelines for the Use of Text Matching Software Services at York University

  1. Text matching service software (at present, Turnitin.com) is made available to York University instructors who elect to use this tool as a means of promoting academic honesty and avoiding plagiarism in a course.

  2. Instructors may require the use of text-matching software in their courses to verify the originality of student's written course work and/or as a learning tool that students may use to avoid inadvertent plagiarism.

  3. Students have the right to opt out of using text-matching software and to choose an alternative method for assessment of their work.

  4. Instructors requiring the use of text-matching software in a course are obligated to provide alternative methods for assessing the authenticity of a student's work for students who elect not to use the text matching service software. Recommended alternative methods include:

    • Submitting multiple drafts

    • Submitting a detailed annotated bibliography

    • Submitting photocopies of source documents

    • Taking an oral examination directed at issues of originality

    • Responding in writing to questions directed at issues of originality

    • Providing a written report concerning the process of completing the work

    • More than one of the above

    • An alternative system for verifying authenticity, approved by the Departmental Chair or Dean of a Faculty

  5. At the outset of a course, students shall be informed that text-matching software shall be used, advised of the opt-out provisions available to them and provided with the following information:

    • The importance of academic integrity, York's policies and procedures regarding academic integrity and that suspected plagiarism will be investigated and, if found, disciplinary action taken.

    • What comprises appropriate referencing, citation, bibliographic footnotes, etc., for this course.

  6. Instructors shall provide students with written instructions for the submission of their work to the text-matching service. If the option is provided by the service, students may submit their student number as opposed to their name, so long as they inform their instructor that they have done so.

  7. Normally, written work is to be graded by an instructor prior to reviewing the results produced by the text-matching software. However, if an instructor has reasonable cause to suspect that a student has misrepresented work as their own, the instructor may immediately elect to use output from text-matching software and/or utilize any other traditional process (e.g., library search) to verify the integrity of a work.

  8. Should an instructor uncover what they deem to be plagiarism or other breach of academic integrity, they are to follow the procedures approved by their Faculty for the handling of a breach of the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty.