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What are Turnitin flags in Feedback Studio?

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).

Figure 1. Turnitin has highlighted one flag that may or may not indicate a problem.

In addition to the matches, the algorithm can flag up two types of inconsistencies in student work:

Replaced characters

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).

Figure 2. The Turnitin algorithm has flagged up replaced characters in Feedback Studio. Source: Turnitin.

Remember: Colours, percentages, matches and flags in Turnitin don’t always indicate problems with academic integrity. It’s the algorithm’s effort to bring the submitted work to your attention for further review.

Hidden text

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).

Screenshot of Feedback Studio with the submitted work with the highlighted hidden text on the left-hand side and the explanation flag on the right.
Figure 3. The flag has highlighted hidden text that is not actually hidden.

Read about integrity flags on the Turnitin help pages: Flags (opens in new tab).

Updated on August 5, 2020

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