IMPLEMENTATION HAS BEEN PAUSED:  Submitting the Thesis through Turnitin, via Blackboard

It is recommended that Departments require their students to submit their own Thesis to Turnitin.  However, Departments may decide to submit student Theses 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 examiners, to interpret the Turnitin similarity report so that appropriate guidance can be provided to students, where necessary.

Below is guidance for Departments on how Theses 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 a Thesis Submission Centre

The e-learning team have developed a template Blackboard Departmental Thesis 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 a Thesis Assignment Submission Area

Once the Blackboard Departmental Thesis Submission Centre has been set up, Departments will need to create their own Thesis 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 upload all research students to the Thesis Submission Centre

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

Please use this template CSV.file to bulk upload.

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 enters for their exam and submits their thesis

At least 4 months prior to submission, the student initiates the exam entry process through the PGR Milestones section of MyImperial.  Once the thesis is ready for submission, the student uploads it through the PGR Milestones section of MyImperial and the submission date is recorded.  Supervisor nominates examiners and, once approved, Registry confirms exam entry to student.  The Registry will send the thesis to the examiners.

After the student submits their thesis for examination, the PGR Administrator is informed, at the point of exam entry form approval by Registry, that the examiners have been confirmed and contacted.  At this point, departments may wish to make a local intervention reminding students to submit their thesis to Turnitin through the departmental submission centre.

Students will also be provided with the following prompts to submit their thesis through Turnitin: 

  • Thesis Submission Checklist - indicates that submission to Turnitin will be required alongside submission to My Imperial for all submissions made from 01 September 2021 onwards)
  • The text visible to students in My Imperial at the point of thesis submission will remind them that they will also need to upload to Turn It In
  • The email communication sent to students upon thesis submission to My Imperial (to remind them to complete the Turn It In upload, if they haven’t already done so) – PGR Administrators are already copied in to this notification

5. Student uploads their Thesis to the Thesis Assignment Submission Area and similarity report is generated

Once the thesis has been submitted to College, students must then submit their thesis to Turnitin, following their Department’s process which will be through the Departmental Blackboard Submission Centre.  The e-learning team have developed a step-by-step guide for students on how to submit their Thesis to Turnitin, via Blackboard.   You should provide this document to students, including any students registered for the Crick PhD programme.

6. Providing access to the Turnitin similarity report to Supervisors & examiners

There are two options to choose from

Option one: PGR Admin enrol main supervisor and internal examiner onto the Thesis Submission Centre, providing access to the online Turnitin Similarity Report

The main supervisor and the internal examiner should be enrolled as Course Tutors on your Departmental Thesis Assignment Submission Centre.  You can follow the process for batch/bulk enrolment (as you will have done to enrol students).   

The advantage of enrolling supervisors and internal examiners onto the Blackboard Thesis 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 examiners will be able to view the Thesis 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 static Turnitin similarity report

It is recognised that this will add to the administrative burden of Departmental administrators but rather than enrolling supervisors and internal examiners onto Departmental Blackboard Thesis Submission Centres, it is acceptable for PGR administrators to download the static Turnitin similarity report and send this to the main supervisor and internal examiner 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 examiner.

7. Examiner discussion and interpreting the Turnitin similarity report

Ahead of the viva, the internal examiner (or PGR admin) will send a copy of the Turnitin similarity report to the external examiners.  The examiners (internal and external) together discuss whether they have any concerns about the integrity of student work, using the Turnitin similarity report to aid their discussion.  The examiners may seek clarification from the supervisor.

The e-learning team and the Library provide support for supervisors and examiners on interpreting the similarity reports using the online Turnitin feedback centre.

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

8. Outcomes and suspected cases of research misconduct

After reviewing the Turnitin similarity report, the examiners together decide which outcome applies:

  • Option A:  No issues.  The internal examiner will inform the supervisor that the viva can be arranged.
  • Option B:  Minor concerns.  The student and supervisor are advised that these will be explored during the Viva.  During the viva, if minor concerns are addressed by the student, and the examiners are satisfied that they have no remaining concerns, then no further investigation is needed.  The examiners may require the student to address the minor points/concerns as part of thesis corrections before the final version is submitted.  Additionally, the College Secretary who is Secretary of the College’s Research Misconduct Response Group should be informed of the outcome of the examiners exploration of minor concerns.  However, should the examiners determine that their concerns have not been addressed during the viva,  then the Procedures for the Investigation of Allegations of Research Misconduct can be initiated.
  • Option C:  Serious concerns. Where the examiners have serious concerns about the integrity of the research, the internal examiner informs the student and supervisor that the viva will be postponed and an investigation under the Procedures for the Investigation of Allegations of Research Misconduct is initiated.  The outcome of the investigation will determine whether the viva can proceed.  Where the investigation determines that the viva can proceed, the examiners will be provided with a copy of the investigation report

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 the online 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 final thesis submission, a judgement would be required about whether the problems were relatively minor and could be remedied through corrections (explored during the viva, option B above), or if they were more fundamental and would have to be referred for investigation under Ordinance D17, The Investigation of Allegations of Research Misconduct (option C above).  Also relevant at the final submission stage would be whether the student had made reasonable efforts to check for plagiarism before submission, and how they had attempted to handle any issues (including whether transparently or otherwise).

Find out more about the College’s Procedures for Investigating Allegations of Research Misconduct. 

9. Exemptions

Where Theses 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 Thesis 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 Thesis is free from plagiarism.    However, in cases where the main supervisor identifies concerns regarding potential plagiarism in a thesis, the steps set out under paragraph 8, Outcomes (above), should be followed, in consultation with the examiners.

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 PhD examiners.  In such cases, the PhD examiners will be required to confirm that to the best of their knowledge, the Thesis is free from plagiarism, having not had access to a Turnitin similarity report.