Creating a Turnitin assignment in Canvas

To create a Turnitin Assignment in Canvas follow the normal process you would when creating an assignment in Canvas, populating all fields and settings as required.

Set Submission type as External tool and select Find.

Scroll down and select Turnitin UK, selecting this will populate the URL field, now select the Select button to continue.

NOTE: DO NOT tick the “Load in a new tab” box as the Turnitin window won’t load on the same page within Canvas.

Set the following dates in your Canvas assignment settings:

  • Due date
  • Available from date (these dates will transfer into the Turnitin assignment).
  • Until date (students will not be able to access the Turnitin assignment in Canvas once this date has passed).

NOTE: Turnitin does not support differentiated due dates.

Select Save & publish to publish this assignment or Save to save the assignment without publishing. The Turnitin LTI Tool window will be launched in Canvas.

The Turnitin window


Click on the Settings tab (1) within the Turnitin window. You will see an alert that “Some settings have been disabled and can only be changed in the learning management system”. This means that certain fields are greyed out (i.e. those which have transferred from Canvas, e.g. “Max Grade”, “Start Date”, “Due Date” etc.).  

NOTE: It is important to set the “Feedback Release Date” (2). This date automatically defaults to the Canvas set “Due date” and may cause an error if not changed. In addition, it will also turn off anonymity from this date. It is recommended that you select a date far into the future to avoid any potential issues.

Select “Optional Settings” (3) to choose more detailed Turnitin options and preferences.

Optional Settings:

View the Turnitin Guides for more information on the optional settings.

Select the options based on the nature of the assignment and/or your requirements (e.g. choose whether submissions are stored in the Turnitin Standard Paper Repository and what search targets submissions are compared against etc.).

It is important to tick the “Allow late submissions” box (5), as if this is not ticked, Turnitin will not allow any submissions after the due date.

You will also notice that “Enable anonymous marking” (6) will be automatically ticked or unticked as this information is automatically transferred from your assignment set-up in Canvas.

Select your Similarity Report settings and decide when reports are generated and how often students can resubmit.

NOTE: The setting “Generate reports immediately (students can resubmit until due date…)” is recommended in order to maximise Turnitin’s potential as a learning tool.

Choose “Submit” (4) to save all your Turnitin options.

Viewing and Downloading Similarity Reports and Student Submissions

Similarity Reports can be accessed from the Assignment Inbox (7) in the Turnitin window, on the Canvas assignment page.

Select the similarity score from the % column to open the document viewer. The score sits alongside its responding colour.

The Similarity Report is the result of comparison between the test of the submission against the search targets selected for the assignment; this may include billions of pages of active and archived internet information, a repository of works previously submitted to Turnitin, and a repository of tens of thousands of periodicals, journals, and publications. Any matching or highly similar text discovered is detailed in the Similarity Report available in the Assignment Inbox. To find out more access the Similarity Report Guide available on the Turnitin Website.

To download assignment papers submitted or reports associated with the assignment, select Download all. Alternatively, you can select the users whose papers or reports you would like to download and select Download Selected.

You can also view Similarity Reports through the Gradebook and SpeedGrader in Canvas by selecting the coloured icon in the assignment column.

Grading and Providing Feedback on Turnitin Assignment Submissions

It is recommended that grading and feedback for Turnitin assignments is provided through the Canvas Gradebook/SpeedGrader. You can also provide grades and feedback by using the Turnitin Grading Tools.

Canvas Gradebook/SpeedGrader:

Here, you mark, provide feedback and add grades as you would a Canvas assignment. The only difference in a Turnitin assignment is that an icon appears which links to the Similarity Report. When this is selected, Turnitin opens in a separate window.

Turnitin Grading Tools:

Student submissions will be listed within the Assignment Inbox in Canvas. To access the assignment’s grading tools to begin grading a student’s paper, click the blue pencil icon. Alternatively, click the grade you have assigned to the paper to make any changes. For further detail on the Turnitin Grading Tools and how these can be used is available on the Turnitin Website.

NOTE: Turnitin grades pass to Canvas, but Canvas grades do not pass to Turnitin.

No feedback is passed to Canvas SpeedGrader from Turnitin, therefore if a staff member has given feedback in Turnitin the student will need to go to the assignment and view their feedback in the Turnitin LTI. This will be visible up to the Until Date that has been set, if any, in the Canvas Assignment.

Also, Grades will only pass to the Canvas SpeedGrader from Turnitin when the student has submitted to Turnitin through Canvas.

Turnitin and Canvas: Considerations and known issues

Allowing Late Submissions in Turnitin

In the Turnitin ‘Optional Settings’ you need to tick to ‘Allow Late Submissions’. This will ensure that any students who miss the due date and have not already submitted an assignment can still submit.

Turnitin does not allow resubmissions to be made once the assignment Due date has been reached. I.e. if a student has already made a submission, they will not be able to make another submission after the due date has passed.


Anonymous Marking

If you wish an assignment to be marked anonymously, the anonymity setting will have to be set in Canvas. In Canvas, select ‘Graders cannot view student names’ when setting up the assignment, this will also set the assignment as anonymous in Turnitin.

By default if an assignment is set to be graded anonymously in Canvas it will have a manual posting policy in place, i.e. students will not be able to view any grades or feedback given in the Canvas SpeedGrader until the grades have been posted (which will also remove the anonymity in Canvas SpeedGrader and Gradebook). Students will be able to view any grades or feedback given in Turnitin when the Feedback Release Date has been reached which will also turn off the anonymity, therefore an appropriate date should be selected.

When an assignment has been set up to be marked anonymously, Similarity Reports can only be viewed through the Assignment Inbox and in SpeedGrader. Once the anonymity has been released, the Similarity Reports can also be viewed in the Gradebook.


Anonymous Marking (Viewing Similarity Reports)

Usually, Similarity Reports for Turnitin assignments can be accessed through the Canvas Gradebook. However, when a Canvas assignment is anonymous, reports can be viewed through the Assignment Inbox and SpeedGrader. Once the anonymity has been released, reports can also be viewed in the Gradebook.


Anonymity (Turnitin Error)

On some assignments that have been set up as anonymous and through Turnitin, there will be an error message that appears after the feedback release date has passed in Turnitin.

Should you experience either of these with your assignment please raise a ticket through the ‘Help’ menu in Canvas referencing the module code and assignment affected.


Canvas Rubrics

If you want to use a Canvas rubric for the assignment, you must add the rubric before setting the External Tool submission type. Create the assignment with any other submission type, save the assignment, add the rubric, and then edit the assignment to select the External Tool. Students can only view Canvas rubrics for Turnitin assignments on the Submission Details page for that assignment (at any time) or their Grades page (after the rubric has been scored).

There is an option to add a Turnitin rubric in the Turnitin Optional Settings. However, this is not recommended as it presents no real benefit if marking directly in Canvas.


Cloud Submissions

Cloud submissions allow students to directly load a file from OneDrive/Google Drive/Dropbox. Students can use their University O365 OneDrive to submit an assignment to Turnitin in Canvas.



Students should submit in Canvas using a desktop or laptop computer only. Mobile browsers and Canvas Apps have limited functionality and it is recommended that these platforms are not used to access Turnitin Assignments in Canvas. 


Differentiated Due Dates

Turnitin assignments cannot include more than one submission date; differentiated due dates are not supported.


Direct Submission to Turnitin

If a student submits directly through Turnitin, their submission and similarity report will not pass to Canvas and it will not be possible to provide feedback on the submission using the Canvas SpeedGrader. If this happens please see this advice.

It is recommended that you provide clear instructions to students on how to use Turnitin in your assignment description in Canvas.


Group Assignments

Turnitin cannot be used for group assignments.


Instructor Submissions

Instructors are not able to upload files on behalf of students but can resubmit on behalf of students if this assignment setting has been enabled.


Moderated Assignments

If you want your assignment to be moderated, you must set up the moderated assignment before setting the External Tool submission type to Turnitin.


One Way Grade Pass

Grades pass from Turnitin to Canvas but do not pass from Canvas back to Turnitin.

If you have used the Turnitin Feedback Studio to grade and provide feedback for students, the grades will transfer to the Canvas Gradebook but the feedback will not.

We recommend using SpeedGrader and Gradebook (Canvas tools) for marking and feedback where possible to avoid confusion and ensure students can see all marks and feedback.


Similarity reports not appearing

If the setting ‘Generate reports on the due date’ is applied in the Turnitin settings, some users are experiencing an issue where the Similarity Report does not generate in certain areas in Canvas such as SpeedGrader/Gradebook. In this case, the similarity reports are not generated for any students that submitted their assignment PRIOR TO the due date (if they submit ON the due date the report will be generated in these areas).

It is recommended that this setting is not used until the issue has been resolved. The similarity report should still be available in the Turnitin Assignment Inbox in the Canvas assignment page as this area is not affected. Should you have any existing assignments affected by this issue please raise a ticket through the ‘Help’ menu in Canvas referencing the module code and assignment details.


Student Issues

It is recommended that you add specific Turnitin information to all Turnitin assignments on Canvas. Some students are still submitting assignments to the Turnitin website directly. This means that the submission and similarity report will not pass to Canvas and it will not be possible grade or provide feedback using SpeedGrader. See this blog post for more information.

To avoid any potential submission issues, please provide your students with accurate submission information and also link to the student guide in your assignment description by adding the following example text:

  • DO NOT login and submit your assignment directly through the Turnitin website. Upload your submission here.
  • If you are having difficulties submitting you should submit a Support Ticket via the Help Menu in Canvas as soon as possible.
  • Please see Student Guide – How to use to Turnitin in Canvas for more information.

If you or your students are experiencing any issues with Turnitin in Canvas, it is critical that these issues are reported immediately through the Help Menu in Canvas.


Submission Types/Size

You cannot restrict student submission types. By default, Turnitin always allows students to submit their assignment as a text entry or upload any supported file type. See the full list of supported documents and unsupported file types on the Turnitin website.

Students can not submit multiple file uploads.

Turnitin submissions require a minimum of 20 words, a maximum of 800 pages, and a maximum file size of 100 MB.


Turnitin website / status page

To help you to understand all the settings available and correctly customise assignments, it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with the comprehensive Canvas Turnitin LTI Instructor guides which are available on the Turnitin Website.

To facilitate upgrades and perform system maintenance Turnitin will occasionally be taken offline, you can view the system status and both scheduled and unplanned downtime on the Turnitin Status Page. Please consider any impacts that planned maintenance may have on students submissions when setting your assignment due dates.


Further Information

Student Guide – How to use to Turnitin in Canvas

Turnitin with Canvas video

Turnitin Essentials training video

Top 5 potential assessment set-up pitfalls