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Online submission policy

1. Purpose

This document aims to provide clear guidance, principles and operational procedures in support of online submission outlined in the University’s Assessment Policy.

2. Definitions

  • Online Submission: Work that is submitted electronically to the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for assessment.
  • Anonymous Marking: A marker cannot identify the student either by name or regnum on a piece of assessment when they are marking it.
  • Virtual Learning Environment (VLE): An online platform with a collection of integrated tools enabling the management of online learning to deliver learning activities, resources, assessment and feedback to students.
  • Moodle: An open sourced VLE adopted by the University to support the delivery of different teaching methods – both face-to-face and blended learning provision.
  • Turnitin: A plugin for accepting and marking text-based submissions. It also has the functionality of matching written text against published, unpublished sources and student papers.
  • Panopto: Online video, audio and screen capture software that integrates with Moodle and enables submission of audio/video assignments.
  • Moodle Assignment: A submission inbox on Moodle that can accept almost any file format. This can be used to accept a variety of file formats in PowerPoint (.ppt), video, audio, images, Mahara, weblinks and etc.
  • Originality Report: A report produced by Turnitin to indicate matches between a student’s work and a series of online, published and unpublished sources.
  • TEL: Technology Enhanced Learning team

3. Scope of the Policy

3.1 The University currently supports the following technical solutions for e-assessment, marking and feedback which are integrated with Moodle:

  • Turnitin
  • Moodle Assignment
  • Mahara Portfolio
  • Panopto

3.2 All written or text-based assignment submission should go through the University Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

3.3 All academic writing assignments such as essay, dissertation, reports, creative writing, reflective work, personal logs, journals, that are submitted in text format e.g. PDF or Word, must be put through to Turnitin on the VLE.

3.4 Practical, images, video, audio, weblinks, Mahara and other non-text based assignment should be submitted via Moodle Assignment. It is not effective use of Turnitin for this purpose as there have been known errors reported during submission, retrieving student’s work and when marking.

3.5 This policy defines the settings and practices used for online submission.

3.6 This policy defines rights and responsibilities of both staff and students.

4. Student’s Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of students to:

4.1 Ensure they submit the correct file and all parts of the assessment are submitted before the deadline. No amendments or additions will be permitted after the submission deadline.

4.2 Verify they have submitted their work in the required file formats and within the specified file size. Students should check files on the system after submission to ensure they are valid and correct. On opening if students discover they submitted their assignment in the wrong format or file before the deadline, they can re-submit their work (NOTE: This ONLY applies to Turnitin. Submission inboxes setup with Moodle Assignment, Panopto or Mahara can take ONE submission only). In instances of a student submitting a file that fails to comply with the published instructions, and the work cannot be assessed as a result (e.g. the file type cannot be opened and read) then this work will be given a mark of zero. This recognises that a submission has been made by the deadline but cannot be assessed.

4.3 Ensure their work was submitted successfully. A digital receipt will be sent to the student’s University email to confirm submission and they should retain the receipt for their own record.

4.4 Submit their own work. Staff are not allowed to submit work on students’ behalf. See link “Submitting to Turnitin” for support.

4.5 Submit their work according to the specified online submission method. Email is NOT a valid form of submission and cannot be assessed.

4.6 Ensure they submit their work well in advance of the deadline time. Students should not leave their submission to the last minute or very close to the deadline. Any discrepancy in the student’s computer clock or slower than anticipated upload may result in the submission being rejected by the system. This will be considered a non-submission.

4.7 Ensure their own computer, browser and internet connection are in good working order, and to have a contingency plan for technical failure. Technical issues are not accepted for Extenuating Circumstances.

4.8 Check their University email account regularly before the deadline submission. In the event of any technical failure on the University system, the Module Convenor will communicate this to the students via University email.

5. Academics’ Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the Module Convenor to:

5.1 Ensure they create and maintain the online submission inbox. If Module Convenors are not available during the submission period, they need to make sure an alternative member of staff is nominated to update the information on Moodle if necessary.

5.2 Set up online submission inboxes for summative assessment at the beginning of the module.

5.3 Ensure TWO separate submission inboxes are correctly set up and configured to take submission from students (See link “Creating a Turnitin Assignment” for guidance):

    • First inbox is set up and configured with usual deadline published in accordance with Assessment Brief.
    • Second inbox is set up, configured and labelled with “[assignment title] (Extenuating Circumstances)” for students with Extenuating Circumstances. This inbox should be open to take submission after the first deadline has ended and available for 10 working days online.
    • Extending, changing (except to correct), or re-opening dates of an inbox is not permitted.

5.4 Provide clear guidance for online submission using Template recommended below (See below “Section 12. Assessment Information for Students”) and briefing students in lecture or on video.

5.5 Amend any administrative error in the submission inbox. Helpdesk and TEL team are unable to modify or amend any inbox that has been set up incorrectly. Helpdesk and TEL team are able to support the responsible academic in any required modification but unable to action it themselves.

5.6 Ensure students required to resit, submit their work to a separate submission inbox with the correct setup, label and configuration. Extending, changing (except to correct), or re-opening dates of an inbox is not permitted.

5.7 Communicate to students if a technical fault occurs within 12 hours prior the submission deadline; inform them of new submission deadline and revise submission inboxes with 24 hours extension. See below “Section 14. System Failure” for further guidance.

5.8 Interpret and understand the use and purpose of the Originality Report produced by Turnitin. See “Appendix 1: Interpreting Originality Report” for guidance.

It is the responsibility of the Programme Director to:

5.9 Ensure Module Convenors setup their submission inboxes in accordance with this policy.

5.10 Ensure new staff who are involved in teaching to undergo online submission training with the TEL team.

6. Submission Deadline

It is recommended that submission deadlines are set up within core support hours i.e. between Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm to ensure students are sufficiently supported. Programmes which wish to operate deadlines outside core support hours should notify the TEL Team, outlining the support they are providing for students leading up to the deadline (further training may be necessary). Further, Turnitin is a third-party service which occasionally schedules essential maintenance work throughout the academic year. Unless TEL are aware of assignment deadlines outside core hours, they are unable to notify academic staff of any possible conflicts.

7. Dual Submission

The University does not require both hard copy and online submission from students including dissertations. If dual submission or hardcopy submission is required, rationale should be clearly outlined to students in the assignment brief. Hard copy and online submission will have the same submission deadline.

8. Late Submission

The University’s Academic Regulations currently does not allow for late submissions. Any work submitted after the deadline without extenuating circumstances will be marked as zero.

9. Extenuating Circumstances

Students with genuine reason who are unable to meet the deadline submission can apply for extenuating circumstance. (See “Academic Regulations”). This will be setup by Module Convenors as a separate submission inbox labelled “extenuating circumstances” and available for 10 working days.

10. Multiple submissions of the same assessment

Students have the right to re-submit any assessment up to close of the submission window in Turnitin. It is only the final submission that will be considered for assessment by staff. All other earlier submissions will be discarded from the marking process. This only applies to Turnitin submission inbox and not Moodle Assignment, Mahara or Panopto.

11. Assessment information for Students

The template below should be used when setting up any submission inbox on Moodle using either Turnitin or Moodle Assignment:

Turnitin (Summary)

  • Assignment Title: [name e.g. “Essay on Art History”]
  • Description: [About the assignment e.g. “Write a 3,000 word essay on art history in Europe”]
  • Deadline: [date, time]
  • File type accepted: PDF or WORD (for text-based) - other file types will not be accepted
  • File size: 40MB (max)
    • If your file exceeds 40MB, go to http://smallpdf.com to compress your file before submission.

If you have any problems submitting your work, please contact the Library Helpdesk at library@stmarys.ac.uk or call 020 8240 4097.

Moodle Assignment (Description)

  • Assignment Title: [name e.g. “Poster for Group Work”]
  • Description: [About the assignment e.g. “Submit a poster for your presentation on…”]
  • Deadline: [date, time]
  • File type accepted: [List specific file format accepted e.g. PPT, PDF, EXCEL, MP4, MP3]
  • File size: 256MB (max)

If you have any problems submitting your work, please contact the Library Helpdesk at library@stmarys.ac.uk or call 020 8240 4097.

Please note: if you have set up submission deadline outside core support hours, please make sure you provide a name contact (e.g. module convenor, lecturer or programme director) in the Assessment Information and outline how students will be supported if they have problems submitting their work.

12. Anonymous Marking

Anonymous marking is to be undertaken for all written assessment to ensure that the identity of students is not disclosed to markers with the notable exception of written work relating to the assessments of work placement activity, to avoid bias (either inadvertent or deliberate). There may be some forms of assessment not suitable for anonymous marking e.g. group work, presentations and dissertations but anonymous marking should be used wherever possible.

13. Academic Misconduct

Please refer to Academic Regulations, Section 29.

14. System Failure

If the University’s electronic submission system (i.e. Moodle, Turnitin, Mahara or Panopto) or network system suffers a continuous failure or repetitive brief outage within 12 hours prior a submission deadline, an automatic 24 hours extension is granted to students. Submission deadline is extended to Monday if incident is reported on Friday. The TEL team will initiate communication with all staff and provide update of the system status. Module Convenor will be responsible to communicate to their students about the system failure with the new submission deadline, and revise the submission deadlines accordingly.

15. Review and Update

This policy will be reviewed by TEL annually.

  • Date Written: September 2019
  • Author: Bing Choong
  • Version Number: 2
  • Person Responsible: Head of Technology Enhanced Learning
  • Review Date: 31st July 2021
  • Impact Assessment Date: 31st July 2021
  • History (where discussed / who circulated to / committees considered: Associate Deans of Student Experience, FADC, Head of Departments, CTESS, Academic Development Committee

The originality report is an effective way to:

  • Check that online sources in an assignment have been properly cited and the text has not simply been copied without appropriate referencing.
  • Identify collusion between students on their course and potentially from other institutions who use Turnitin in the UK.
  • Ensure a level of equality and parity when checking the originality of students’ work against the vast range of possible online sources.
  • Deter students from plagiarising and encourage good academic practice.

What does the Similarity Index percentage indicate?

An overall percentage score (with colour code) is shown next to a student’s name under the Similarity column in the Assignment Inbox. This shows the total amount of matched text as a proportion of the assignment. 

Similarity index percentage screenshot

Important: This ‘at a glance’ guide should not be used as a measure of plagiarism. Even a 1% score could potentially be plagiarised.

There is no ideal percentage to look for. Students’ work is bound to contain some words from other sources. The percentage will vary depending on the type and length of assignment and the requirements of the work involved. If it is a long assignment, then even 1% matches will need to be checked to see if they have been referenced properly. Individual matches need to be investigated by opening the student’s paper and viewing the match overview and breakdown panel.

Blue: no matching text

Blue indicates no text has been matched. This could mean that the work has no references at all and that there is little or no use of direct quotes. Depending on the nature of the assignment this is not necessarily an issue but a Blue score is worth checking just in case the student has simply submitted a paper with text that Turnitin cannot recognise.

Green: one word to 24% matching text

Green indicates matches between 1% and 24% and is the most common. It is simply an indication of the amount of matched text, so potentially, up to 24% of the document could still have been copied without referencing.

Yellow: 25% – 49% matching text
Orange: 50% - 74% matching text
Red: 75% - 100% matching text

Yellow, Amber and Red denote percentage matches in bands above 24%. Higher percentage matches may indicate:

  • An over reliance on direct quotation as a result of poor academic writing.
  • Cutting and pasting from other sources

100% match means the assignment has no original work. It has most probably been submitted previously to Turnitin. This can happen if the student is making a re-submission of their work and the file had already been submitted to the Turnitin database. It could be a student error and they submitted to another assignment area by mistake. It can also indicate collusion or copying an essay from another student, either in their class, from a previous year or another institution.

If this isn’t a match to the student’s own work submitted to another submission point (e.g. as a draft) then a request can be made to see the other student paper if you aren’t already an instructor on the area it was submitted to.

Annotated screenshot of Turnitin. Numbers listed in image related to the list below the image.

  1. This is the Primary Source View panel; all matching sources are listed here by percentage and are referenced (by colour and number) in the main body
  2. This highlighted text means that Turnitin has found a matching source in its database. The number and the colour of the highlight relate to the Primary Source View panel on the right of the page.
  3. This icon will give you information about the assignment (Assignment No, word count, date submitted etc) and information regarding the originality.
  4. This icon will allow you to print the Originality Report.
  5. This icon will allow you to download the Originality Report.
  6. Use this slide bar zoom in and out of the text for the assignment and make the text larger or smaller.
  7. These two icons allow you to change the view of the Primary Source panel to Overlapping Source which enables you to see if Turnitin has found multiple sources that match the same section in your assignment.
  8. This icon allows you to filter out Bibliography and quotations that may be increasing the Originality score.

Types of frequently found ‘acceptable’ matched text

There are certain types of matched text that Turnitin will find, which can be safely excluded or ignored with discretion. These matches will be included in the overall similarity score for an originality report and be highlighted as a match on a student’s paper. These include:

  • Quotations: Properly referenced quotations can be ignored. These can be excluded using the filter.
  • References and Bibliography: Other students will have used the same references at some point, and these will show up.
  • Matching formats: e.g. the same essay title.
  • Tables and Charts showing shared or copied data or statistics.
  • Appendices may also have a large amount of matching text as other students may well have used the same sources.
  • Small matches that form common phrases in a sentence or subject terminology will be detected. These can be removed using the small match filter.

Paraphrasing text from a source will be highlighted even where words in the phrase have been changed. If the source has been cited, it remains the academic judgment of the tutor to decide if the text has been suitably paraphrased.

What Turnitin Originality Reports do not detect?

Reports DO NOT pick up matches to images, drawings, diagrams or plans; print books and journals, translated foreign language works and password protected content on websites.

It is also important to state that reports do not detect plagiarism, they merely show the amount of matched text that Turnitin has found by highlighting the matched text on a student’s paper and identifying sources for the matched text. This will include correctly referenced and quoted text.

The decision as to whether this is plagiarism remains an academic judgment.