Theses and Dissertations
The current and less provocative term for using the words of others without proper citation is
“unoriginality.” The more inflammatory term for using and taking credit for someone else’s
work is “plagiarism.” Plagiarism is defined as literary theft and/or fraud; it is the ultimate
academic offense, but the label is applied after the theft of intellectual product(s) has been
discovered and its theft and fraudulent use have been adjudicated; faculty members and
students are innocent until proven guilty. However, avoiding unoriginality is a required skill of
scholars and is learnable; such learning is made easier through the use of iThenticate:
1. iThenticate and Turnitin are from the same company, but unlike Turnitin iThenticate
does not retain submissions so you can run it as many times as you need, and the
comparison sources are only published, scholarly documents rather than classroom
2. iThenticate measures similarity between multiple published documents and the
document under examination.
3. A similarity score is a percentage; it is the total amount of the text (words in sequence)
of a document that is in common with published sources divided by the total number of
words in the document of interest.
4. How much similarity is too much? Grant proposals submitted to federal agencies use a
cutoff score of 10% similarity. The Graduate School currently uses a score of 12%.
5. However, a score higher than 12% does not necessarily mean an unacceptable level of
unoriginality. Interpretation is needed. Some disciplines like chemistry and mathematics
have chemical structures and formulas that must be expressed in a standard way. So, for
some disciplines scores higher than the 12% cutoff score might be acceptable. However,
experience suggests the 12% score is appropriate for most theses and dissertations.
All faculty supervising theses and dissertations now have ready access to iThenticate.
Supervisors can submit a paper for iThenticate analysis at any time and as many times as
needed. In minutes the algorithm compares the paper of interest to a massive database of
published material and produces a report of sources (individually numbered and color coded)
that have similar wording. The report also gives an overall similarity score. A student and
his/her advisor can review an analysis and locate areas that need to be paraphrased, put in
quotes, and/or cited properly and thereby reduce the similarity score. By doing this process
during the development of the document the student can learn to write in a way appropriate to
his/her discipline and avoid unoriginality.
1. The purpose of the use of iThenticate is to teach students to avoid unoriginality.
2. Students and supervisors should review drafts using iThenticate as a method to learn
scholarly writing.
3. If after a student and his/her supervisor have reviewed the iThenticate analysis and
edited the student’s document to reduce the similarity score, papers with scores in
excess of 12% may be submitted to OTDS with an explanation by the supervisor that no
inappropriate unoriginality are apparent. The staff of OTDS will review the analysis. They
may make suggestions for further revision of the document to reach the 12% standard
or accept the paper as submitted.
4. A current iThenticate analysis must be submitted with draft proposals, theses, and
5. For documents submitted to OTDS, the exclusion settings on the iThenticate analysis
must be those used by the Graduate School: exclude Quotes, exclude Bibliography, and
exclude Small Matches (below 5 words). Do not exclude Small Sources, Abstract, or
Methods and Materials.
If you have any questions, please contact Christina Gammon, Dissertation & Thesis Specialist, at (903) 886-5967 or