Does Sakai LMS check for cheating and plagiarism?

Sakai is an open-source learning management system (LMS) that helps the schools handle assignments, announcements, calendars, and exams. But what about the originality of the content uploaded by the students? Does it check for plagiarism?

Does Sakai check for cheating and plagiarism? No, it does not check for plagiarism out of the box but will it you turn on the right plugins which are pre-packaged with the install.  The plagiarism detection tools that are available are Turnitin and VeriCite.

Now that you know what the best options are when it comes to checking students’ submissions on Sakai, let us find out which one fits your needs.


Turnitin is a software solution that ensures plagiarism detection. Its process includes comparing each student’s submission with a huge online database. The software then generates a report. This report shows what portions of the document are similar to the files in the database.

Turnitin can be added as a plugin to the Sakai LMS. It helps the teachers to make sure that their students submit plagiarism-free content.

Why use Turnitin in Sakai LMS

Using this plugin along with the Sakai learning management system improves the overall quality of the educational process. It provides a lot of different benefits for the school, the teachers, and the students. The most important perks that Turnitin offers are:

  • Plagiarism-free content
  • Wide variety of text files supported
  • Grades are in accordance with student’s skills

How to Integrate Turnitin in Sakai

You can use Turnitin in Sakai only after buying a subscription plan. This license is designed to help you counter plagiarized content. Additionally, it provides a Similarity Report for every assignment submission. This software is compatible with almost all versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.

To integrate the Turnitin plugin on your Sakai platform, you have to follow these steps:

  1. Access your account on
  2. Select the administrative section
  3. Click on the ‘Integrations’ button
  4. Set up a new integration by clicking the ‘Generate API Scope’ button
  5. Create and view your API key (also called ‘The Secret’)
  6. Save your API key
  7. Integrate the plugin using Sakai management section and the API key

API stands for Application Programming Interface and the key uniquely identifies your account on Turnitin so Sakai links to the right account.

NOTE: Make sure that you copy and save your API Key/Secret. You can only see it once after generating it. If you don’t have this key, you can’t integrate Turnitin in Sakai LMS.

How to use Turnitin

Turnitin is quite easy to use especially on LMS platforms. All you have to do as a teacher is to enable Turnitin feature when creating an assignment. After doing this every attachment submitted on that specific assignment will get scanned by Turnitin.

Turnitin provides two important features that may be enabled or disabled by the teacher who created the assignment.

The first feature is called ‘Use Turnitin to review student submissions. This enables a plagiarism check for all files uploaded for the assignment.

The second feature is called ‘Allow students to view Turnitin report’. It is useful for the students to understand how plagiarism works and what they aren’t allowed to do when writing a document. It also gives them the instant feedback on the originality of their work.


As every software solution available on the market, Turnitin also has its limitations. The most relevant limitations are related to:

  • The number of attachments that can be reviewed
  • The information requested about the student

When using Turnitin to detect plagiarism on a certain assignment, the software can only review one attachment per student at a time. If two files are uploaded at once and sent for review then only the first file is checked.

To ensure the proper functioning of this plugin, all the students must fill in their first name, last name, and email address. Turnitin uses this information to assign one unique username for every student.

The Similarity Report explained

After the students submit their work, the plugin automatically generates a Similarity Report. This report is created after comparing the file uploaded against a huge online database. That database includes tons of previously written documents on the same topic.

The Similarity Report is assigned to that students account and the teacher can review it. This report can be found under the ‘Grade’ section. After enabling Turnitin for a specific assignment, a new column in the Grade section will appear. When the plugin finishes scanning a submission, an icon will appear on the new column, in line with the student’s file and grade.

Using that icon, the teacher can see if the work was unique or not in three ways:

  1. A quick overview – take a look at the color of the icon. It shows the percent of the document that overlaps items in the Turnitin database. Its colors have different meanings:
    1. Blue = 0%
    1. Green = 0-25%
    1. Yellow = 25-50%
    1. Orange = 50-75%
    1. Red = 75-100%
  2. Percentage – to see the actual plagiarized percentage in the document, place the mouse on the icon
  3. Detailed report – to access the in-depth report of the submitted file, click on the icon


VeriCite is a service that helps the teachers to identify plagiarized content. It generates an Originality Report for both the student and the teacher. It is very simple to use yet effective. It is supported as a plugin by the Sakai LMS.

How to install VeriCite on Sakai

The plugin can be installed easily quite easily using the following steps:

  1. Access the control panel of your platform
  2. Select ‘External Tools’ feature
  3. Go to ‘Tools Available in System’ tab
  4. Click the ‘Add LTI 1.1 Tool’ button
  5. Enter the configuration information for VeriCite
  6. Save the new LTI Tool
  7. Go to Site info and click the ‘Edit Tools’ feature
  8. Enable the VeriCite plugin

LTI stands for Learning Technology Integration plugin.

However, if you want to integrate VeriCite as a native plugin, you can find helpful instructions by following this link:

Enable VeriCite on an assignment

The teacher can select the VeriCite feature when creating an assignment on the Sakai LMS. The steps that the educator has to take are the same as usual. The only difference is related to checking the box next to the ‘Use VeriCite’ label.

After enabling VeriCite on a certain assignment, the teacher can allow the students to view the Originality Report. This feature can be enabled by checking the box next to the ‘Allow students to view report’ function. This feature of allowing students to view the report is that they will get a better understanding of what plagiarism is and how to avoid it effectively.

View and understand the Originality Report

To view the Originality Report, the teacher has to follow the next steps:

  1. Go to ‘Assignments tool’
  2. Select the ‘Grade’ section
  3. Click on the flag icon in the VeriCite column

After performing those steps, the report will be regenerated and will open as a pop-up window. The report contains the full text of the initial file and the sources that match the content. The sentences that are similar to the text found in the database are highlighted in different colors.

The software also generates a plagiarism percentage of the document. This percentage is generated using the total number of sentences, the number of copied sentences, and the strength of the plagiarism.

The VeriCite website advises the teacher to investigate any paper with a plagiarism score higher than 15%. By clicking each sentence, the teacher can see the material that is like the submitted content.

The teacher can also add comments inside the Originality Report. If the ‘Allow students to view report’ function is enabled, the student will see the comments that the teacher left related to the document.

Wide variety of file formats

VeriCite features a wide variety of file formats that can be checked for plagiarism. According to its User Guide, the VeriCite plugin can consume students’ submission using the following formats:

  • PPTX & PPT (PowerPoint presentation)
  • HTML (HyperTextMarkupLanguage)
  • DOCX & DOC & ODF (MS Word and MS Office)
  • TXT & RTF (Notepad)

The software converts the file into plain text and removes any quoted sentences. Then, it compares the text against the online database and finds copied content. After checking a sentence, VeriCite highlights it if it plagiarized. The colors used are different depending on the strength of plagiarism. The color code used contains the following options:

  • Yellow – may be plagiarized (less than 30% similarity)
  • Orange – probably plagiarism (more than 30% yet less than 60% similarity)
  • Red – plagiarized content ( more than 60% similarity)

However, the software does not guarantee that the sentences highlighted are surely plagiarized. VeriCite advises teachers to perform an in-depth analysis of the submitted content against the matching sources.

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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