Reviewing with SafeAssign

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Marco Tedaldi

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Marco Tedaldi

Through Blackboard, Old Dominion University has the plagiarism detector application SafeAssign. SafeAssign can be a way for you to check how well you are incorporating secondary sources into your text. To use SafeAssign, your instructor must first have it turned on in your Blackboard course area. If your instructor has SafeAssign turned on and allows you to submit drafts in advance, complete the following activity:


1. Submit a completed draft of your essay (including full bibliographic resources at the end). Once you have submitted your essay, you may need to wait a while (a few minutes to a couple of hours) for the program to produce a SafeAssign Originality Report.

2. Once you have access to your report, carefully look at all of the sections that SafeAssign highlighted. Use those highlights as a reminder to verify that you are incorporating other sources correctly (Do you introduce them? properly cite them? connect the source material back to your argument? etc.). Sometimes you may have sections highlighted that are correct; the system is just saying it is material from another source.

3. Write a reflection about your review and revision process, covering the elements listed below.

  • date & time uploading the draft
  • date & time reviewing the report
  • general summary of the types of things that were highlighted in your draft
  • brief description of specific elements of your project you will change based on your report results

2. Share-out: Copy/paste your reflection about your review session in the comments thread.

21 thoughts on “Reviewing with SafeAssign

  1. Chem442s15n

    I resubmitted my gel filtration report on April 27 at 3:08 pm. I reviewed my safe assign report later that day. Safe assign showed a 37% match, however almost all of the match was from the methods and materials section. The rest of the matches were general sentences, like “Ion exchange chromatography is used to separate molecules based on their charge.” There were a few highlighted sections in the discussion section. This was expected because multiple students used the same gel. After analyzing the paper more, I realize I write many general statements that others also use. Even though the work was not plagiarized, I now see that I need to write more specific sentences in the future to make my work stand out further.

  2. William Wall

    I chose my submission of the Analysis of the PV92 Locus report for this writing assignment. The paper was uploaded on April 6, 2015 at 11:53 PM. I’m performing this report of it on April 27, 2015 at 4:56 PM. The SafeAssign program detected an 8% match between my paper and the wordings of secondary sources. All of the highlighted sentences from the Originality Report are simply sentences which were found on another student’s report. I’m not surprised by this discovery, as 20 or so students writing about the same topic is bound to have replication somewhere, and one sentence per paragraph is hardly a case for plagiarism. I do not believe that this report would need to be changed, as the wording of a topic sentence or a sentence detailing a specific material matching that of another student’s is unavoidable, and not worth the trouble of rewording the paper. 8% is a very low match, and the paper need not be changed to avoid excess plagiarism.

  3. Ryan Atkinson

    I submitted my Literature Review assignment on Thursday March 5 at 3:40AM, and I reviewed it on Thursday April 23 at 12:53AM. My originality report present a 0% match and there were no portions of my paper highlighted. According to this I didn’t change anything in my paper because I felt 0% meant I had done everything correctly.

  4. Chem442s15i

    Because of a problem with SafeAssign, I was required to re-submit my gel filtration lab report two times. The last time I submitted it, on April 9th, 2015 2:23 PM, the originality report came up a few minutes later and concluded that 14% of my material matched other documented material previously posted. Upon viewing the report, there were thirteen other papers which contained parts of sentences that matched mine, and all were different student’s paper. Upon a closer look ,there were one or two sentences in the introduction (mostly having to do with formulas used) a couple in materials (reagents, concentrations, and manufacturers), and a few in the procedure as well. Since there was only a 14% match, none coming from published material, it can be concluded that there is not a significant need to change much next paper. The only things that matched were common aspects of everyone’s lab procedure that cannot be stated in a unique manner very often. If there was a need, more siting is always appropriate and a safe way to write papers without the possibility of plagiarism, accidental or otherwise.

  5. Chem442s15m

    I resubmitted my gel filtration report on Monday, April 13 at 2:30pm, and was able to view the SafeAssign report by 3pm on the same day. I had a 35 percent match throughout the report. A few sentences in the introduction had matches to other papers, but they had to do with what the unknown sample was, what proteins are, and the different kinds of chromatography, so there wasn’t really any concern there. The rest of the matches came from the methods and materials sections, which did not come as a surprise; there was no match in the discussion section. If I were to change the report based on the SafeAssign report, I would change the methods and materials sections around a little so that they would not match as much, and find other ways to describe the matches in the introduction section.

  6. Chem442s15q

    I resubmitted my Gel Filtration Report on Monday, April 13, 2015 at around 4:30pm. My Safe Assign Report was finished by 5pm, and showed a 13% overall match score. The originality report showed that some general statements were in other student’s report, such as: “The gel filtration method is used to separate molecules based on molecular weight” and “The unidentified sample was determined to be Vitamin B12.” The information in these sentences are essential to this report, and there are only so many ways to say it. With this in mind, no chances are necessary.

  7. Chem442s15c Chem442s15c

    I uploaded the draft of my DNA Fingerprinting report at 4/11 at 5:51 pm and reviewed on 4/12 at 11:00 pm. The items highlighted were expected. For the most part the materials, references, and methods were the main section of originality report. As countless students have performed this experiment using the same methods and materials, and probably similar references, this is expected. Some of the measurements of the gel were also highlighted. This was also expected as 3 other students also used the gel, as we should have all got the same results if we did it right. Unfortunately, a few sentences were highlighted in the introduction. Though the ones highlighted were very general statements, and were a super minority of the section, this is still not optimal. In the future I will take a greater effort to stay away from general statements that may have been included in other reports.

  8. Chem442s15o

    The report submission I chose to reflect on was that of the Gel Filtration lab report, submitted to Safe Assign on February 11, 2015 at 11:59 pm. The report contained only 17% overall match with outside source and other student’s reports. Most of these matches were in sections like the material, methods, and results sections, where statements are very generic about the experiment and easily matched to other students. The introduction section contained only one match with another students paper, and the discussion contained three potential matches with outside source and other papers. Although these areas were highlighted as matches, the similarity was not nearly significant and based on short phrases that were clearly of common use. I think the safe assign program does a great job of making sure that plagiarism is not an issue among students, but even more importantly, it shows the students areas where they may have mistakenly drawn from outside sources to exactly, allowing them to correct drafts for plagiarism errors before they can be an issue in actual graded submission; this, of course, is contingent on the number of submissions allowed by the professor. All in all, though, Safe Assign is a helpful tool to students and professors equally.

  9. Chem442s15f

    I resubmitted the gel filtration lab report Friday night and the report was not ready before I went to bed. I checked it today, and there is a 16% overall match. The materials and methods sections were the primary locations of highlighting. There are not many ways to state procedures or items used. I do not need to cheat or copy anyone’s work to complete an assignment so there is nothing that I will change in future projects.

  10. Chem442s15a Chem442s15a

    In biochemistry lab we are required to upload our lab reports through Safe Assign. On April 1 I submitted my Alkaline Phosphatase Enzyme Kinetics report. This report had 39% match to other student’s reports. As with other lab reports I turned in, most of the highlighted areas were found among the method and procedure sections. This is very common because there are not many ways for students to list the materials used or explained the way the lab was designed to complete the experiment. In all, I think that Safe Assign is a great tool designed to improve student’s ability to properly cite sources and avoid plagiarism. By having the option to review the assignment individuals can change the word usage and improve their writing. I think that Safe Assign could be improved in the way it selects its matches. This program tends to focus on terminology and similar wording among sources.

  11. Chem442s15l

    I chose to analyze my submission for the protein assay lab. This lab was submitted Mon, Feb 09 2015, 12:00 AM, and I am reviewing the report Sun, April 12, 2015, 5:00 PM. Safe assign highlighted a total of 13 ‘citations’ for a 29% match. Citations 1-10, and 13 were all related to another student’s paper while citations 11 and 12 matched other sources. Of these matches only 1 was found in the introduction and related to a general statement describing the lab (“In this study, we use the BCA assay to determine protein concentration in three samples of milk: whole milk, soymilk, and baby formula.”) 2,3 and 4 all matched to information that was included in a chart describing how the microtiter plates were set up (as included in the protocol). 5-9 were all found in the methods section highlighting protocol that should have been in every student’s paper. 10-13 were all found in the references section, highlighting different sections of citations. Nothing found by safe assign matched plagiarism from a research article or website. This lab is a good representation of where the majority of my matches occur in other reports as well. This assignment asks for us to see if citations are introduced and cited appropriately. In the case of scientific writing, introducing a citation is not always necessary, but rather used to provide validation for a point that provides necessary understanding to the topic being investigated.

  12. Nikisha Hartin

    On April 6, 2015 at 11:03pm, I submitted a lab report Analysis of PV92 Loci through the program Safe Assign and there was a 51% match of originality. Majority of the lab report, which was the methods and materials had the most matches. Each student in the course must include the materials and methods meaning the options of paraphrasing these sections are very little resulting in a high match percentage. The parameters for the Polymerase chain reaction was also stated in this lab report specifically but was highlighted due to the fact another student may have also included it in their lab report. Three students were in a group when this experiment took place which means the results were the same values. This could also be another reason a part in the results section of my lab report was highlighted. The Hardy-Weinberg equation was used for the calculations in this experiment which was stated in this lab report and was also highlighted. The information along with this equation was cited. This was an important factor in the results which means it was stated in other students’ lab report explaining the reason of it being highlighted. The title of my lab report was also highlighted which could have also increased the percentage of originality. To improve, reading the methods first then paraphrasing after might help lower the percentage of originality. Working alone instead with partners or groups might also lower the percentage since the results would not be the same values.

  13. chem442s15d

    A recent paper I submitted online was the Analysis of PV92 Loci report. The date it was uploaded was April 6, 2015 and the time was 9:57 pm. Safe Assign reviewed my report at 9:58 pm and gave a match of 43%. After reviewing the originality report based on my writing of the report, majority of the highlighted areas were present in the material and methods section. It is difficult to rephrases certain sentences in protocols without actually changing the meaning of the technique itself. Also words such as Homozygous and Heterozygous in the results section were highlighted. There truly is no other way to explain a result if those terms were the controls of the experiment. I find safe assign to be very helpful with improving my writing. It is helpful to know what other information I can change to reduce my match indication. I do feel that safe assign is very picky with terminology and will nit pick any word that is similar in another students paper when you are not trying to plagiarize at all. It can be discouraging at times when you look at your originality report and see things highlighted that you thought was a good sentence but has another source to it. The next time a safe assign submission occurs, I can review my paper and see what other terminology in my methods section I can replace with. I can also have it peer reviewed by someone to get their input on the paper on what needs to be changed or rephrased for a better outcome.

  14. Chem442s15h

    I submitted(or resubmitted) Gel Filtration Lab report on April 9, 2015. There was a 23% match. As with some of the other reports, the majority of the matching material comes in the methods and materials sections. You can only say what products you used in a few ways so this did not really concern me. Occasionally , a cited source will match and this is most likely that the source was given in class and was understood to be included in report. Overall I think that safe assign is a genuinely helpful tool. I have never really had trouble with its grading criteria as the instructors in this lab understand things like materials and methods will be some kind of a match as we are all doing the same experiments.

  15. Chem442s15j

    I submitted my report (gel filtration chromatography) at 8pm on 4/9/2015 on SafeAssign and the review was appeared after 5 min and showed 37% overall match. The most highlighted parts were from materials and methods because all students followed the same protocol for that experiment. I applied some changes in my report, like using alternative words with similar meaning while kept the same concept and it worked out, but I couldn’t do much for the topic and citations. (Zeinab)

  16. Chem442s15r

    I uploaded my Biochem lab report “Isolation of PV92 loci and Examination of the Alu repeat” on Arp 06, 2015 at 11:50 PM. Safe assign reviewed my report at 11:51PM, and indicated a 8% match. It had tagged my Methods, Results and Reference sections. I knew that Safe assign may highlight sentences in my Method section, since other students in my Class were writing about the same procedure that I performed. In Results sections, Safe assign highlighted “Figures 1.1” “Figure 1.2” and so on. In the Reference section, there was one reference highlighted with respect to its title. Other than that, Safe assign highlighted two sentences in my Results section, such as “Figure 1.1 presents the results.” I don’t think that I can prevent Safe assign from highlighting in my Reference section, since it uses Biochem Journal format, and so does many other articles. As for Methods and Discussion section, I may rephrase the sentences. Overall, I think 8% match is low, specifically if there was no highlighting in Abstract, Introduction and Discussion section. But, still, in future, I may read the procedure ahead and paraphrase afterwards.

  17. Morgan T.

    The file I used was the GFP lab report which was uploaded Feb 11, 2015 at 9:14pm. It was reviewed by me today. I couldn’t find the exact time it was reviewed by Safe Assign. My report came back with a 23% match, which I think is really good. Most of the stuff highlighted in my paper were said to have come from another student’s paper but this is most likely because we all had to write a report on the same thing. These highlighted areas were related to the methods, materials and explanation of what we did in the lab which would have been the same for each student. As a result of this information, I would try to reword these sections so that they don’t sound like everyone else’s paper. Most of the things highlighted were sentences that weren’t taken from any reports or sources. They were just talking about what was going on in the lab.

  18. Nurettin Yigit Gultekin

    My citations were outlined and shown as “suspected entry”. I did not include all of the names of the writers in order to reduce the match ratio. After I changed my references, I had a really low match after I did the corrections.

  19. Jared Brooks

    I thought my paper had an acceptable percentage. Only one sentence was highlighted and it was properly cited. It also was not taken word for word from the source so I was able to justify the percentage safe assign gave me. I did try to rewrite the sentence but was not successful in lowering the percentage. I did not change my paper anymore than this one instance.

  20. Devin Samples-Wright

    The phrases that were highlighted were the only phrases that were appropriate in the situation. They were the correct way to say what I had to express in the Literature Review and as a result, it highlighted a few of the sentences in the paper. Overall, though, I didn’t change much in my paper based on this safe assign report because I thought that I wasn’t plagiarizing, only using the appropriate phrase in the situation.

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