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SafeAssign plagiarism detection and prevention

Last modified by Mary Jacob on 2012/09/26 16:59

SafeAssign plagiarism detection and prevention

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For more guidance about avoiding plagiarism, please see the blog post with videos created by Karl Drinkwater of Academic Support Services in October 2010. It documents a presentation about good practice in academic skills, including referencing and proper use of sources.


SafeAssign is the text-matching tool available through AberLearn Blackboard. It can be used to aid in cases of suspected plagiarism. The outline below is provided as an introduction only. A complete user manual is available in Blackboard’s SafeAssign Building Blocks Instructor Manual. Two guides are available for download here:

Please note:  We suggest that departments start by consulting with E-learning Support Staff, and consider using SafeAssign in one or just a few modules. You may find that procedures need to be adjusted before using SafeAssign across the whole department.

Text-matching tools such as SafeAssign work primarily as a deterrent, discouraging students from plagiarising in the first place. When such tools are coupled with instruction in citation skills, report-writing, and information literacy, the result can be improved study skills, better learning, and higher marks.

SafeAssign checks student assignment submission against four sets of sources:

  • Web pages
  • Online journals available through ABI Inform/ProQuest
  • Institutional database of student work 
  • Blackboard’s global database of student work 

The institutional database consists of any work submitted from Aberystwyth University through SafeAssign. This includes student-submitted work as well as any other electronic documents uploaded by the departments through the Direct Submit function. This allows the department to include assignments from previous years in the database. The institutional database is only accessible for checking within the institution, so other institutions will not be able to check their students’ work against our students’ work.

All student work is automatically added to the institutional database, but if the student chooses to ‘opt in’ when submitting work, it can also be added to Blackboard’s SafeAssign global reference database. When checking assignments for plagiarism, both the global and institutional databases are searched for text matches.

Created by Mary Jacob on 2009/10/16 15:32

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