Subject: University of Toronto’s Plagiarism Detection Tool
To: Instructors and Professional Staff who use a Plagiarism Detection Tool
From: Academic & Collaborative Technologies Group
Date: August 27, 2021
After extensive community consultation through a public procurement process, the University of Toronto is pleased to announce that we will be partnering with a company called Ouriginal to be our new provider of a plagiarism detection tool (PDT) beginning September 1, 2021. Ouriginal is a similarity detection solution that combines text-matching with writing-style analysis to promote academic integrity and help prevent plagiarism. The company is based out of Sweden, with more than three decades of experience.
Since the University adopted Quercus in 2017, instructors and students no longer interact directly with a PDT. Instead, they interact with something called the Canvas Plagiarism Framework, which is built directly into the Quercus assignment experience. In this way, the PDT serves more like an behind-the-scenes engine. As a result, adopting Ouriginal as our PDT will not result in any significant changes to the instructor or student workflow. However, the formatting of the similarity report will be slightly different, and support staff will be available to answer any questions instructors may have.
Finally, as part of the community consultation process, it was clear that one of the major considerations for instructors was the ability to check new submissions against previously submitted work for the same course (to prevent ‘hand-me-down’ assignments). Our new PDT will continue to check against previously submitted work, in some cases, going back almost 15 years.
What do you do now?
- You have not yet set up your assignments
If you plan on using the plagiarism detection tool with your course after September 1, 2021, and have not yet set up your assignments in Quercus, then please follow these instructions for using the PDT. It is extremely important that you do NOT use the Turnitin option, even if you still see it. You MUST select the Ouriginal option. Selecting the Turnitin option will result in your assignment breaking later in the semester (you will not have access to the similarity reports). This includes any assignments imported from a previous running of the course.*
- You have set up your assignments but haven’t started accepting student submissions
If you plan on using the plagiarism detection tool with your course after September 1, 2021, and you have already set up your assignments in Quercus using the Turnitin option, but have not yet started accepting submissions from your students, you will need to switch the assignment from Turnitin to Ouriginal before you allow students to submit their assignments. The switch is very quick and easy (documentation here). If you do not switch it from Turnitin to Ouriginal, then your assignment will break later in the semester (you will not have access to the similarity reports). This includes any assignments imported from a previous running of the course.*
* Please note that this applies to assignments imported from old or other course shells, that may have come into your new course shell with Turnitin already checked off; you will need to go into those assignments and make the adjustments.
- You have active assignments and students have already started uploading submissions
If you have already set up your assignments and you have already started accepting submissions, then please contact Q.Help@utoronto.ca for personalized assistance (there a small number of programs that start their semester before September 1, so this scenario may apply in a small number of use cases).
Update: In response to this announcement, some instructors have asked about the need for a syllabus statement. There are no changes to this rule – if you intended to use the PDT, you need to tell students in your syllabus. For your convenience, a generic statement was distributed earlier in the event of a supplier change. You can access that generic version here (https://uoft.me/pdt-faq) or via the Course Information System if you use that to generate your syllabus. If you are unable to alter your syllabus with the old statement, that’s ok, as we will be indicating the transition from Turnitin to Ouriginal in support documentation for both instructors and students.
Synopsis: Instructors should NOT USE TURNITIN for any new assignments, even if that choice may still be visible to them when setting up or using a new assignment (including any imported from a previous running of the course). The Turnitin option will disappear for all users by Oct. 11, 2021, and if used, it could break an assignment (i.e., similarity reports will not be accessible by course staff). All new assignments (those that do not have student submissions) should immediately begin selecting the Ouriginal option.