Submitting the ESA through Turnitin, via Blackboard

It is recommended that Departments require their students to submit their own ESA to Turnitin. However, Departments may decide to submit student ESAs to Turnitin themselves in which case, Departments should seek advice from the E-Learning Team on the best way to do this. 

It is the responsibility of the main supervisor, as well as the ESA assessors, to interpret the Turnitin similarity report so that appropriate guidance can be provided to students, where necessary.

Below is guidance for Departments on how ESAs are submitted to Turnitin. 

Departments are free to modify this process to suit their needs but importantly, and under no circumstance should student work be uploaded to the Turnitin Student Database of Work - instructions on how to ensure this are found in section 2 of the guidance below.

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1. Department sets up an ESA Submission Centre

The e-learning team has developed a template Blackboard Departmental ESA Submission Centre which can be replicated and tailored for use by Departments.  Departments are invited to self-enrol onto this template Blackboard course to see if it is suitable for their needs.  If Departments would like to use the template, they should contact the e-learning team, via ASK ICT, who will make a copy Blackboard site.

You can watch a video which will show you how to self-enrol onto the template here.

2. Department sets up an ESA Assignment Submission Area

Once the Blackboard Departmental ESA Submission Centre has been set up, Departments will need to create their own ESA Assignment Submission Area template.  If Departments have any technical difficulties with Turnitin or setting up the Blackboard site, they should contact ICT, via ASK ICT. 

3. PGR Admin bulk uploads all new research students to the ESA Submission Centre

This includes Departmental students who are registered for the Crick PhD programme.

If you experience issues with bulk enrolling students, please report this to the Service Desk. Please include a link to the course in Blackboard and the .csv file you are attempting to submit.

4. Student uploads their ESA to the ESA Assignment Submission Area and Turnitin Similarity report is generated

The e-learning team have developed a step-by-step guide for students on how to submit their ESA to Turnitin, via Blackboard.   You should provide this document to students, including any students registered for the Crick PhD programme.

5. Providing access to the Turnitin Similarity report to the Main Supervisor and ESA Assessors

There are two options to choose from.

Option one: PGR Admin enrol main supervisor and internal ESA assessors onto the ESA Submission Centre, providing access to the online Turnitin Similarity report

The main supervisors and internal ESA assessors should be enrolled as Course Tutors on your Departmental ESA Assignment Submission Centre. 

If you have a number of supervisors and internal ESA assessors to enrol then you can follow the process for batch/bulk enrolment (as you will have done to enrol students).

The advantage of enrolling supervisors and internal assessors onto the Blackboard ESA assignment submission centre is that they will be able to access the “live and interactive” Turnitin similarity report.  However, a note of caution:  this does means that supervisors and internal ESA assessors will be able to view the ESA submissions for all students within the Department.  It is recognised that some colleagues will be uncomfortable with this but please be reassured that the College’s core terms of employment make it a requirement for all staff to preserve the confidentiality of personal and/or sensitive information (which includes research data) made available to them through the course of their work.  Any breach of confidentiality will be regarded as serious misconduct.  Also note that research containing material of national security classification is exempt from submission to Turnitin.

How to interpret online similarity reports

Option 2:  PGR admin to download the Turnitin Static similarity report

It is recognised that this will add to the administrative burden of Departmental administrators but rather than enrolling supervisors and internal assessors onto Departmental Blackboard ESA submission centres, it is acceptable for PGR administrators to download the static Turnitin similarity report and send this to the main supervisor and internal assessor for review.    It is advised that no filters are put on the report before downloading the static report, unless they have been agreed with the main supervisor and internal assessor.

Where you have external ESA assessors

In most cases, the ESA assessors will be internal members of College academic staff.  However, there may be examples where an external ESA assessor (industry colleague, or anyone else external to imperial) is appointed.   To protect the confidentiality of all student work within the Department, you cannot enrol an external assessor into the Departmental ESA Assignment Submission Centre.  Instead, Departmental PGR Admin should follow the option 2 process (as above) and download the relevant student ESA and similarity report and email these separately to the external assessor.

For Crick students

For Joint Imperial-Crick Students: The Imperial co-Primary supervisor should be enrolled onto the ESA Submission Centre (option one above) or the PGR admin may download and send the ESA and Turnitin similarity report to the Imperial co-Primary supervisor (option two above).   

For Core Imperial Crick Students: The Imperial Secondary supervisor should be enrolled onto the ESA Submission Centre (option one above) or the PGR admin may download and send the ESA and Turnitin similarity report to the Imperial Secondary supervisor (option two above). 

If Departments are unsure who the Crick Imperial supervisor and Thesis Committee members are for Crick students, they should contact Bethan Ritchie, Graduate School Administration Manager.

6. Turnitin Similarity report interpreted by the Main Supervisor & ESA assessors

Interpreting the Turnitin report is a matter of academic judgement.  The role of the main supervisor is to interpret the Turnitin similarity report and to provide any follow-up guidance and support to the student.    The ESA assessors will also be asked to confirm on the ESA form that the student’s ESA been passed as free from plagiarism after being tested through Turnitin (noting the exemption for research which contains material of national security classification). 

The e-learning team and the Library provide support for supervisors (and assessors, if required), on interpreting the similarity reports using the online Turnitin feedback centre.

Supervisors/assessors who require further support should contact the Library.

For Crick students

For Joint Imperial-Crick Students:

Interpreting the Turnitin report is a matter of academic judgement.  The role of the Imperial co-Primary supervisor is to interpret the Turnitin similarity report and to provide any follow-up guidance and support to the student.    The Imperial co-Primary supervisor will review the similarity report and confirm to the Crick Thesis Committee that the ESA is free from plagiarism and log this in the Crick Grad Log.  Administrative staff at the Crick will complete the Imperial ESA form as usual, confirming that the ESA is free from plagiarism.  

For Core Imperial-Crick Students:

Interpreting the Turnitin report is a matter of academic judgement.  The role of the Imperial Secondary supervisor is to interpret the Turnitin similarity report and to provide any follow-up guidance and support to the student, liaising with the Crick Primary supervisor in doing so.    The Imperial secondary supervisor will review the similarity report and confirm to the Crick Thesis Committee that the ESA is free from plagiarism and log this in the Crick Grad Log.  Administrative staff at the Crick will complete the Imperial ESA form as usual, confirming that the ESA is free from plagiarism.

7. Suspected cases of plagiarism

Good supervision throughout the PhD should ensure that any concerns about plagiarism are identified and addressed at an early stage.  Right from the start, supervisors should provide guidance and support to students on how to avoid plagiarism. Supervisors are reminded that the College requires all doctoral students to complete the mandatory online training course on Plagiarism Awareness, prior to the ESA.

Download further details about this plagiarism awareness course and how students can self-enrol.

There is also further support and information provided by the Library

The Working Group who prepared this guidance differentiated between plagiarism problems arising at the ESA and the final thesis submission.  For the ESA, the expectation is that the ESA should not be passed until the work had been redone so that it was assessed as compliant with the College’s regulations on avoiding plagiarism, after having been retested through Turnitin, and this would normally be regarded as a matter of learning.

8. Exemptions

Where ESAs contain material of national security classification, these will be exempt from submission to Turnitin.   This applies to research projects funded by one of the national intelligence agency funding bodies.  In such cases, the main supervisor will need to submit an email declaration confirming that the ESA has not been submitted to Turnitin because it contains material of national security classification and that to the best of the supervisor’s knowledge, the ESA is free from plagiarism.    The exemption process can be managed locally by departments through email declaration from the supervisor which should be submitted to the departmental PGR Administrator who will then inform the ESA assessors.  In such cases, the ESA assessors will be required to confirm that to the best of their knowledge, the ESA is free from plagiarism, having not had access to a Turnitin similarity report.