Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tech Tip Tuesday - SafeAssign Part 3 - Reading the SafeAssign Report

In this final post in our series on SafeAssign we will talk about how to interpret the SafeAssign Report.

Whether you do Part 1: Direct Submit or Part 2: SafeAssignments the report you get back will look the same.  If using SafeAssignments, the report both the student and instructor see are also both the same. 
*Remember in Direct Submit the students don't see anything.

Our previous posts that led up to this point were:
A SafeAssign Report provides a lot of detailed information about the sources used in the submitted paper.  Remember it is checked against computer driven databases not humans so there is still a decent amount of investigation and interpretation that needs to be done on the viewer's part.  

So let's first examine what the report looks like as a whole:
Click the image to enlarge.

You can see from the sample report there are three different parts to pay attention to in the SafeAssign Report: Paper Information, Suspected Sources and Paper Text.

Paper Information: This section lists details about the paper that was submitted, for example, author, title, percentage matching, what date and time it was submitted and the options to save, print, or give someone else a link to take a look at it.
  • Matching Percentage:  This indicates the percentage of the submitted paper that matches existing sources.  This is ONLY a guide and you should look in more detail at the paper.  For example, sometimes the report includes the references as a matching source, but in fact those were cited correctly and should not be considered plagiarism.
  • Sharing Options:  
  1. Save a report to disk allows you to view the report offline *Note: This may not work with some versions of Firefox.  
  2. Print Version allows you to do just that. 
  3. Direct link allows you to send the report to someone via a weblink but there are really two options you can select.  Click the envelope icon and it will open your default email or click the words 'direct link' and it will change the web address to an address that can be shared (you can then copy this address and paste it in an email to someone else).  The link is only valid for seven days, so if you need to review this information past the seven day period, you will need to click the Direct Link envelope again to get a new link.
Suspected Sources:  This is where you will find the list of sources that have text that matches text in the submitted paper.  You are also able to click on any of the links contained in the report to take you to that outside web source to continue your investigation.  The numbers associated with each source corresponds with the same number in the Paper Text section.  Clicking the magnifying glass at the end of a source it will highlight the suspected text in the paper for easier viewing.

Paper Text:  This area shows the submitted paper with the formatting stripped out.  All matching texts will have a corresponding number in the Suspected Sources section.  

What is very important to remember here is to not think that 'SafeAssign said it was plagiarized so it must be so!'  Remember SafeAssign is a tool to help you and your student decide.  Frequently SafeAssign will pick up common phrases and a suspected source.

The other thing to remember here is to click on the suspected phrases in the paper text section.  This won't link you to the source like the suspected sources section will.  Instead it provides you with MORE information, including another percentage matching specifically for that source.

Click to image to enlarge

You can see from the image above that when the selected text is clicked it is not a 100% match AND it is a common phrase, probably not plagiarized.

How SafeAssign Matching Percentages are Computed
Sentence matching scores indicate the probability that two phrases have the same meaning and potentially the same source.  

For example, a score of 74%, as in the example above, indicates that there is a 74% probability that these two phrases are the same and a 26% chance probability that they are similar by chance.

I hope the series on SafeAssign helps clear up any confusion, or gives you another great tool to add to your teaching arsenal.  

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