Turnitin False Positive: it Says I Plagiarized but I Didnt

Do you get frightened when you realize that Turnitin says you plagiarized your paper but you are sure you did not? Chances are high that you may be getting Turnitin false positives or your essay has similarities matching on your references or web pages.

Plagiarism is a great offense which writers must ensure they overcome. This post addresses some of the concerns that a student should consider when encountering plagiarism in the final draft.

Why Turnitin Says I plagiarized but I Didn’t

Sometimes, Turnitin can give you a score that shows a high similarity index yet you did not copy any content. This can falsely be interpreted as plagiarism if the instructor does not consider the source of the matching text. Let us see what to do when you are in such a case.


If Turnitin says that you plagiarized but you did not, it could be because you had uploaded a draft of the paper earlier before uploading the final file. Turnitin stores scanned papers in its database. Therefore, it flags off your paper as plagiarized to be matching the draft in its repository. When you get such a false positive, the best action is to consult your tutor and explain the situation.

The same can also happen if your paper has a lot of references That is so because the instructor and indeed all educational institutions set Turnitin to add the paper to the Turnitin database.

It will be comparing the essay against its saved draft. As such, it will give you a 100% plagiarism score. The student should have a one-on-one session wi9th the lecture to determine if the instructor made such settings.

What to when Turnitin shows False Positive

1. Email Teacher

It could be a bright idea to email your professor as a way of creating a paper trail. However, let the email be a polite request and not have content that can work against you.

We recommend that you write this email to request a personal meeting. Such a meeting is the right session to ascertain whether they could drop such charges or not.

Chances are they could agree with you, or on the bad ending, they could move ahead to charge the student on the platform of academic dishonesty.

You will undergo an academic hearing for the panel to make the right decision about your action. If you are innocent, your paper will go through. Unfortunately, if the paper has true plagiarism, then it could lead to suspension or expulsion.

2. Check the Report

Turnitin False Positive report

The student should check the report to see the percentage of similarity.

If the report says that the whole document is not original, try to square the issue with the instructor to determine the chance of such a report.

Let the instructor cooperate with the IT administrator to see if they saved the paper in the Turnitin database.

If the document is scanning against itself, then you should rectify that error.

3. Cite Your Work

When you get confronted by a situation in your submitted work full of plagiarism, you can defend yourself to your tutor by citing your sources. You should use the use to indicate to the tutor that you conducted meaningful research and show where you sourced your information. Such efforts will suggest that you did your work well.

4. Prove that You Did Not

Several ways exist to prove that you did not plagiarize your work. For example, you can provide your tutor with the outline, drafts, or notes you make when preparing the disputed work. That indicates that you put some effort into developing the paper yourself.

Furthermore, you can pride more evidence which can highlight your skills and knowledge. For instance, you can show your previous essay, which is proof that you have no record of plagiarizing from your past work.

Can Turnitin be Wrong?

Some students upload their papers and get a positive match even if they did not copy. This brings the question of whether Turnitin can be wrong or if it gives a wrong score.


Turnitin cannot be wrong because it only shows similarity by matching text with other existing texts from its database or from the internet. What is wrong is not Turnitin but the person interpreting the similarity report to be either plagiarism or not. False-positive is a result of uploading two files or Turnitin checking your references as part of your paper.

In this case, it should be noted that there is a difference between matching text and plagiarism. A text match does not always mean that you copied.

A text match shows the similarity,. which requires to be interpreted. The source of the matching text and the nature of the text shows whether you copied it or not.

For example, if you had cited well and quoted a large text from a source so as to reinforce your arguments, then this is not plagiarism because it is well-cited and referenced.

It becomes plagiarism if you had just copy-pasted the text and did not give credit to the source. It also becomes plagiarism for you had copied from a source deemed not credible or another student’s paper.

This is the reason why there is no specific universal

Turnitin score that is good

but a range of scores depending on the university or the instructor. A low score can be interpreted as plagiarism if you copied, while a high score can be interpreted as good.

How to Prove that you Did Not Plagiarize

When the lectures accuse you of plagiarizing work when you did not, it could prove to be a daunting task to come off the hook.

prove you did not plagiarize

That alone does not indicate that you ruined your destiny.

You have a chance to prove that you are innocent.

For example, if you were a diligent person with no incidences of plagiarism, then you can argue your case to prove otherwise.

1. Show your Sources

Many people may not plagiarize their work consciously. It could be just that they forgot to cite their sources.

In case the faculty accuses you of participating in plagiarizing your paper, then you can provide evidence of your sources.

Ensure that you give all the references to the sources you are involved in to do your research. Such could satisfy your tutor that you did the work yourself.

All the papers should have a reference and in-text citation. You can still cite your paper by using footnotes and endnotes as you assign numbers to text. Such is common when dealing with humanity academic papers. You should understand the formatting style of the paper and cite your sources to eliminate similarities.

2. Paraphrase your content

You can opt to eliminate plagiarism from your work by paraphrasing the affected section. It can apply to the sentences where you used more than three quotes. If you paraphrase well, Turnitin cannot detect any plagiarism.

The role of paraphrasing is reducing the level of similarity by explaining in your own words. It is noteworthy that synonyms are not the same as paraphrasing. That is because the meaning of the synonyms comes not to change hence causing Turnitin to detect it.

3. Remain Honest

The student should only remain truthful when dealing with accusations concerning plagiarism. Lying is a bad practice that could land you into problems. You should ask yourself fundamental questions to know if you plagiarized or not.

If you know that you did it, then it is sensible to admit the fault instantly. If you proceed by telling lies, then you could be complicating the lies.

4. Prepare Evidence of not copying

You need to collect all facts to prove your innocence. Some of those items are having the drafts, notes, and outline you used to develop your final product. Such makes the professor offer the benefit of the doubt to the affected student.

5. Explain it as Unintentional Plagiarism

A student can copy someone’s work unintentionally. Ensure that you cite your sources to avoid the accusation of plagiarism. If the act was unintentional, you could opt to meet with your instructor and own the mistake.

Admit the act was due to some mistake and ask for a period to fix that pending mistake. You can promise not to repeat the action. Doing so makes things easier because professors know that such cases do happen.

6. Avoid Giving Up

The student should not give up when accused of plagiarism when they did not involve themselves in plagiarism. One can opt to do anything to prove that you did not participate in that plagiarism offense. If the instructor is not listening to you, you can find someone else to bridge the gap.

One way is seeking higher authorities to secure a chance of proving your innocence. Doing so will be a way of asking about your reputation and grades in your coursework.

How to Reduce Turnitin Plagiarism Score

a) Avoid Copying Word by Word

Another method that can help you eliminate similarity is avoiding top repeat similar matches of 5 to 8 words.

Reduce Turnitin plagiarism score

It could work well when dealing with commonly used words, quotes, or when writing bibliographies.

This method applies to the students who are working under strict tutor instructions.

Notably, Turnitin does not indicate plagiarism when showing this report.

However, it will show the overlapping text that it detects in your works.

b) Use Quotation Mark

You can reduce the level of similarity by applying quotation marks. They should be around the text that you got from the cited context. Without putting such quotation marks, the Turnitin program will interpret as plagiarized. Ensure that you use double quotation marks and not a single one.

c) Avoid Excess Quotes

Another solution is to avoid overusing quotations. If you are using too many quotations, it implies that you did not perform proper research. Using excess quotation marks will increase the chances of showing similarity in Turnitin.