What is an acceptable Turnitin percentage?

The short answer is less than 24%.

The longer answer is that it depends. Firstly you need to exclude the “Works Cited” or “Bibliography” from the test run. Then you have to look at where the plagiarism matches are coming from. Let me show you some quotes:

“Students check their assignments in Turnitin revision classes before submitting them. They attach the Turnitin report to their work when it is handed in. A generous cut-off of 25 per cent matched text was allowed in this pilot. Any essays with higher than this percentage matching must be explained by the students. Students also sign a declaration that the work is their own and that they understand what plagiarism is.”
- Sheffield University

Or this interesting point:

An originality report may have a similarity index of 24% with the similarity coming from hundreds of different sources, each making up less than 1% of the student’s work, other originality reports with an index of 24% may have the similarity coming from just one or two web pages or published sources, potentially a much more serious matter.
- University of Glasgow

Or this slightly different perspective:

Students soon become minutely concerned with what Turnitin’s percentage score means in its report. For Turnitin, zero percent means there is no overlap between a paper and any other. One hundred percent means there is a total case of plagiarism. I have found that the scores I prefer range between 20 and 35 percent. Rather than plagiarism, these scores usually confirm that this is a robust research paper with substantial use of quotations, footnotes, and bibliography. It is these two things—footnotes and bibliography—which most inflate Turnitin’s score. A very low score indicates a paper with few footnotes and references. A very high score indicates a “cut and paste” job which, even if footnoted, is unacceptable to me. The highest score I have ever seen is 85 percent in a paper in which Turnitin flagged the entire first two pages in red, indicating they came from other sources. Yet, the student had footnoted those pages faithfully and persistently throughout. For me, this was less a case of deliberate plagiarism than one of a student who had no idea how to write a research paper and use sources properly.
- California State University

And finally this from UCLA:

Therefore, the initial plagiarism percentage rating cannot be used as a trustworthy indication of the degree of plagiarism. Using an example from my course: one student posted a paper that received an initial score of 64% plagiarized, but upon inspecting the paper I saw the majority of the matches came from properly quoted material and the references cited section. After checking the accuracy of the citations and references, I excluded them from the match and the paper returned a score of two percent.

Here at Tailored Essays we look for a score of below 15% for fully original work such as the main body of a PhD. But we just want to get a score of below 24% for the Literature Review or any other work that is heavily based on existing published work. Naturally our scores are usually well below those numbers as our work is fully custom written and checked through WriteCheck (part of Turnitin).

Please email us on admin@tailoredessays.co.uk if you have any questions about this issue. We will get back to you as soon as we can and definitely within a few hours.

If you want to know more then look at our next article on Turnitin and what the score means: Turnitin Percentages – Part II


  • shauna habel wrote:

    My son did a series of mythology questions and two years later, my daughter had the same assignment. She dictated her answers to me. If she had basically the same answer her brother did for a question, I left it as it was. In other words, there are only so many ways to say “Thor is a god of thunder.” I wrote down all her original answers and rephrased anything that she said differently. The match was 46% even though she never looked at his paper. Any thoughts??? My stupidity because I didn’t retype the answers that were the same??? thanks!

  • Slawomir wrote:

    This is why people should use their own judgement to check somebody’s paperwork, rather than using stupid automated systems that only compares what’s been found without comparison of the writing style, referencing ect. Plagiarism is a serious allegation and it shouldn’t be based only on some automated system as the system will never be so much clever as human being. I basically don’t believe in turnitin as only artificial intelligence could stand the level of human checks in somebody’s paperwork.

  • Rebekah Friday wrote:

    For a closed book essay examination (5-6 pgs)where there is no requirement for references how is plagiarism defined or viewed?

  • Turnitin is a unmature software…one day will come ur research will come to an end by this sofware remember this is a worst software in the world. the software catches even sentence structure and one day the all sentence will finished by this software and we will ought to be use alien language instead of english okeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Mr turnitin. please shut this stupid software immediately…otherwise u will be defamed by its users….

  • I appreciate the top reference to allowable scores for turnitin. My papers continue to get hung up in the system. I was responsible for the change of a process and system in the military due to Soldiers careers being effected. Does anyone know where the acceptance off liability notice from TURNITIN is. If you can change a letter or word in a sentence and it lower or increase your score there is a glitch in the system.

  • I had a 30% similarity score made up of loads of 1% from another Uni students work. Does this mean I have plagerized?

  • Hi
    I have a 32% plagiarism for my PhD Thesis
    Is it accepted or not?
    Thank you

  • is there a possibility I would get in trouble for a 21 percent match

  • i have a 27% for my dissertation? is that bad?

  • Actually once i applied the exlcude quotes and bibliography, it gave me a 20%. Is that acceptable?

  • References are counted as copying?!

  • Hi,
    I submitted my essay and my score came 44%
    I checked it and every word I used from an author I cited them. Example, I put (name,2012).The reference section I put the name of the authors, (2010, The article titile, page #s,doi and wrote retrieved from a website. I have sent a note to the instructor asking him why I am getting such a high error. Yet to get a reply. Pls can you explain?

  • Hi,
    I submitted my essay today and the score came to 44%. I cited all the authors I used. For example,when I use an author words I write (name of the author,2012). The references, I wrote name (2012). The title, the name of the journal, pages I quoted, doi and write Retrieved from http://. Can you explain the reason for such a high %.

  • madhulika gupta wrote:

    how to give references in thesis so as to reduce plagiarism

  • Hi .
    How you doing.
    Just i want ask i ve 46% smilrity in my Cw ?
    Is it ok or not.

  • Dr. Arjun Kumar wrote:

    How much percentage of my earlier manuscript I can include in next manuscript

  • i got 1% palgiarism in my term paper through trunitin. and my instructor commented that this(1%) shows my work is far from the subject and i have not used technical language:/
    is that reasonable?

  • Lorraine Convey wrote:

    Is 26% acceptable for a MSc assignment? Thanks.

  • I recently submitted a research paper with a 28% from Turnitin. I faithfully did research, used appropriate citations, and gave credit where credit was due. Turnitin is a double edged sword because the more research is reviewed and used, the more information is cited–therefore a higher unoriginality score is given. Before the web. We would go to the library–and use the information we read in books. Was it plagiarism?? Of course not! And just because the information is more conveniently located on the web doesn’t mean it is plagiarism. It is only Plagiarism if the citations and source is not properly attributed in the body of work or the bibliography. Being an honest and hardworking student, seeking information should not be penalized.

  • I think the issue depends on you, rather than either of your children. While I agree, there is only so many ways you can give the same information, your daughter, not you should have typed her answers, even for the one’s that matched her brothers. You have already been influenced by his wording style and usage (or your own if you also typed his paper). The only way to get truly authentic answers is by using authentic styles. Even when the answers are the same, they can sound very different coming from two different people. When I review classmate’s papers to get a handle on formatting or information, I only skim so I am not influenced by their wording style and manner of writing. That ensures we can both present the same information in a different way and avoid plagiarizing each others papers, even when using the same sources.

  • vivian wrote:

    I have a 10% plagiarism for my university paper!Is it accepted or not?
    Thank you!!!

  • This is a genuine problem and causes many people much grief. You are correct that, especially in short essays, Turnitin frequently catches inadvertant plagiarism. In my business we sometimes get high Turnitin percentages for work that is custom written because, as you state, there are only so many ways of expressing a point. This is why we use Write Check to check the work before we submit it to the client. When I rewrite a paper to get the Turnitin score down I sometimes have to use rather abstruse language in an effort to make the paper more original. This problem is only going to get worse as the Turnitin database grows larger each year.

  • I can’t see how there can be plagiarisation in a closed book exam.

  • Yes it does – you need to change the wording and resubmit.

  • That sounds way too high! Sorry.

  • It sounds fine as long as the referencing is done well.

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