What information does Turnitin hold?
The majority of work submitted to Turnitin is stored in its repository, against which future submissions are checked. This enables lecturers to identify where text matches occur between their students’ submissions and previously submitted work both within and outside of the institution.
This also means that work submitted by QMUL students is held indefinitely by an external organisation – iParadigms Europe, the European arm of the US company that runs the Turnitin service. However, the iParadigms website makes clear that copyright and intellectual property rights are retained by the original owner. At QMUL, this is usually the student submitting the work.
Turnitin holds the name and email address of anyone (student or staff) who makes use of the system. Turnitin’s Privacy Pledge confirms that this information will not be passed to external institutions or individuals except for the purpose of running the service. For instance, Turnitin will send the details of one user to another where a request to view a matched paper has been submitted (see 4.5).
Turnitin has enrolled in the Safe Harbour framework and as such is deemed to meet the EU’s Data Protection directive.
Can students opt out?
Under normal circumstances, it is not possible for students to opt out of having their worked checked by an external software tool. It is possible to configure Turnitin so that submissions are not stored in its repository – this should be done for all assignments used for training or demonstration purposes.
The value of Turnitin increases with use as its bank of previous submissions grows. As a result, it is expected that all final assignments making use of Turnitin should allow the work to be stored in the repository unless there are particular circumstances that mean this is unadvisable.
Can submissions be deleted?
Whilst students cannot prevent their work being checked by Turnitin, they can request that their file is subsequently deleted from the repository on certain grounds. Such requests must come from the staff member in charge of the assignment and should be submitted to their school’s Turnitin contact. This applies to instances where Turnitin is accessed via the online learning environment QMplus: deleting a submission from QMplus will not delete the corresponding paper from the Turnitin repository and a request should still be submitted.
Valid grounds for a request for deletion include, but are not limited to:
- An incorrect file was uploaded
- The work contains commercially sensitive content
Note that a concern about intellectual property is not a valid reason to request that work is deleted – the copy in Turnitin does not alter the ownership of the original work.
How to request that a submission is deleted – this guide outlines what you should do if you want a student’s submission to be deleted from Turnitin.