When a student submits their work in Turnitin, the algogrithm looks for matches against sources listed in the Turnitin database. Now, Turnitin will also flag inconsistencies in the submitted work. Apart from matches against other people’s work, when it finds inconsistencies, will flag these up for markers to review. These are called integrity flags and are shown in the Insights Panel on the right-hand sidebar (Figure 1).
In addition to the matches, the algorithm can flag up two types of inconsistencies in student work:
Certain characters between different alphabets may look similar, e.g. the latin p looks like the Greek rho (ρ) and according to Turnitin ‘this flag will highlight any time an author has used a character that is different from the rest of the document’ (source). The flag will appear on the right-hand sidebar in red along with an explanation and a link to find out more (click Figure 2 to enlarge).
The hidden text flag highlights text that blends into the background of the document to make it invisible. While someone can assume the intention of manipulating the overall similarity score by hiding text, during our testing Turnitin highlighted hidden text that wasn’t actually hidden in a set of PowerPoint slides that were submitted in pdf format (click Figure 3 to enlarge).
Read about integrity flags on the Turnitin help pages: Flags (opens in new tab).