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CSU Global Writing Center: Avoiding Plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism

Citation is standard practice for scholars and students for several reasons: It shows that you have conducted research and considered multiple viewpoints; it helps your reader locate the sources you've used in the paper; it gives you credibility as a writer; and it gives credit to other scholars for their ideas, which helps you avoid plagiarism.

Avoiding Common Plagiarism Mistakes

Plagiarism, as defined in CSU Global's academic dishonesty policy, is "the adoption or reproduction of ideas, words, or statements of another person as one's own either knowingly, carelessly, or without acknowledgment." This infographic provides an overview of the most common reasons why student submissions are flagged for plagiarism, with suggestions for how to avoid plagiarism in the future.



Submitting Assignments

In addition to discussion boards, CSU Global assignments may include critical thinking assignments, labs, and Portfolio Project milestones and final projects. Please note that assignments must be submitted through Canvas.

Before beginning an assignment, thoroughly review the instructions and the rubric. CSU Global courses typically offer two options for each assignment and a rubric that identifies the criteria used for grading.

We also offer several resources to support your writing and assignment efforts:

  • CSU Global Writing Center - The Writing Center offers templates, APA resources, and appointments with Writing Consultants.
  • Smarthinking Tutoring Services - You can access this resource through the course navigation bar for online tutoring and assignment reviews.
  • Turnitin - Turnitin originality reports highlight sections of your writing that are a near or exact match to other texts, like peer papers, internet materials, other scholarly publications, and even your own previously submitted work. This tool is intended to help you improve your writing and avoid plagiarism.


Plagiarism Policy
As a reminder, CSU Global's Plagiarism Policy states:
CSU Global accepts an overall originality check similarity score of 30% or less, with no more than 20% of the student's paper containing quoted material.... Quoted material should be used with discretion and include correct formatting in compliance with the CSU Global Guide to Writing and APA.


CSU Global's Reusing and Repurposing One's Own Work Policy states:

No more than 20% of an assignment's content shall consist of quoted material (from either an external source or your own previously submitted content) unless the student has obtained permission from the current instructor.


Originality Scores

You can check your originality score before submitting your final assignment to ensure that your work is aligned with CSU Global policies. Before submitting the assignment to be graded, label your assignment with the word DRAFT. This will ensure that your faculty member will not grade this version of the assignment.

To review your Turnitin Originality Report, submit your draft and then click on the "Grades" tab to find your submission. Then, click on the "Originality Report" icon next to the assignment (see screenshot below). If your score is too high, please rework your assignment or use one of the resources above for help before resubmitting.

When you are ready to submit your assignment for grading, label the document FINAL. This label will let your instructor know that this document should be graded. As a best practice, you should also appropriately make note of either DRAFT or FINAL in the comments section when submitting.

Submitting Assignments

To submit your assignment, click on the "Submit Assignment" link in the top right-hand corner:

File Upload

Follow these four steps:

  1. Choose the file to upload from your computer
  2. Add DRAFT or FINAL in the comments
  3. Check that you agree to Turnitin
  4. Click "Submit Assignment"
Keep In Mind

As a reminder, use this assignment checklist:

  • Review the assignment instructions and rubric
  • Ensure that you have used appropriate APA formatting
  • Submit your assignment in Canvas
  • Check your Originality Report score and make changes as needed
  • Submit final assignment in Canvas

Instructor feedback is an important aspect of improving your writing and your score. After your assignment has been graded, you can view instructor feedback by clicking the "Grades" tab within Canvas. Once in the "Grades" tab, click on the assignment name. This will redirect you to your submitted assignment where you can view your instructor's feedback and assignment comments by clicking "View Feedback." You can also find feedback on each line item of the rubric where you did not receive full points.

As a reminder, please review the Student Portal and the Student Academic Policies in their entirety and don't hesitate to reach out to your Student Success Counselor with any questions or concerns.


Interpreting Originality Reports

This guide will provide a brief introduction to interpreting Originality Reports in Turnitin via Canvas.

See our "Interpreting Originality Reports" Printable Guide


Similarity Score

Turnitin (TII) Originality reports highlight sections of your writing that are a near or exact match to other texts, like peer papers, internet materials, other scholarly publications, and even your own previously submitted work. This tool is intended to help you improve your writing and avoid plagiarism.

Turnitin searches the text in your submitted file for existing matches in the Turnitin database. It then highlights the matching text in an Originality Report. Once you've pulled up your Originality Report in Canvas, the top right-hand side of the page will show your assignment's similarly score:


The percentage indicated is based on your assignment's overall similarity to materials in the TII database. This area will also allow you to set filters:

The filters will exclude quoted text, bibliographic entries, and small matches in this area. After you apply the filters, the similarity score will be recalculated.

Match Overview

The left column contains the text of the student paper. The text that matches materials in the Turnitin database is highlighted on the right:

The Match Overview pane on the right contains a list of the sources within the Turnitin database that match the highlighted text in the student paper. Each of the highlighted sections of text will have a number that corresponds to the list of matches on the right.

In this instance, the writer is using a direct block quotation and has cited the material. However, the writer needs to include either a page or paragraph number to complete the citation. When that information is added, this instance should not count toward the similarity score.

It is important to note that Turnitin will not evaluate the nature of the matches found. It will be your job to evaluate what the matches indicate. Because Turnitin will flag properly cited material, a high similarity percentage does not always indicate plagiarism. Similarly, a paper with a low similarity index can still have strings of text that have been improperly cited. Instead of focusing on reaching a certain percentage, you should review the results by individual match.

Show Matches

Clicking any of the highlighted sections of the paper will expand the match context via a full source view. This allows you to see how that information was presented in the original source.


In this second match instance, the writer has nearly copied the original source word-for-word and the passage is poorly paraphrased. This is an example of a passage that needs to be reworked.

Keep In Mind

Finally, there are some important questions to keep in mind when assessing content with high similarity scores, such as:

  • Is the highlighted portion of the work cited appropriately?
  • Is the material correctly paraphrased or summarized?
  • Can this information be presented without long quotations?
  • Is the information conveyed in my own words?
  • Does the similarity score meet CSU Global Plagiarism Policy expectations?