How to Interpret a Plagiarism Score or What the Score Means in the Context of the Student’s Academic Submission

The rule of thumb in universities which use Turnitin software (98% of the UK listed academic institutions such as schools, colleges and/or universities) is that 15% is the cap in terms of what academic institutions deem to be an acceptable level of plagiarism in essay and report submissions. The 15% figure is interpreted as accidental plagiarism by academic institutions and there is also a small percentage allowance for errors in the software which can happen with such highly complex and intricate technology. Anything above 15% is indicative of the fact that the student’s work contains a great deal of plagiarised material. In the context of the student’s academic submission, a Turnitin plagiarism score of 15% could result in a range of disciplinary measures. If the students piece scores between 15%-20% the disciplinary action implemented is most likely to be a deduction of points in their grade as opposed to the more severe penalties which could be imposed.

It is all very arbitrary though as the software is used industry wide, interpretations vary especially depending on cross border institutions such as Scottish and English colleges and universities. For Viper, the scoring system operates in a very similar manner i.e. submissions are red flagged for plagiarised content if over 15% of the document scans as having been plagiarised by the student. This is a good rule of thumb to use as it is consistent with existing academic practice in the industry and also makes an effective strategic allowance for any errors in the software which if not allowed for could have several unfair ramifications for the student’s submission such as deducted points and/or destruction of submission. For essay, report and/or thesis submissions, a plagiarism percentage exceeding 20% would serve as an immediate indicator of a submission which has been deliberately plagiarised by the student with the aim of deceiving their academic tutor or exam invigilator.

It is worth noting that Viper make allowances for software errors in their plagiarism calculation because as previously stated it prevents the student from being unfairly penalised, but it also ensures that the percentage calculation is much more accurate. This is important to note because the accuracy of the figure can be marketed by Viper to vastly increase its subscription base in terms of the number of students and academic institutions which use their service.