SafeAssign Instructor Guidelines

SafeAssign is an online service used to check the originality of papers submitted by students. This service is available for use in learn.unbc.ca as a means of assisting instructors by reducing concerns about possible plagiarism.

This service is optional for instructors and can be activated/de-activated in any course offered in learn.unbc.ca.

Because data submitted to learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign is stored and accessed on U.S. servers, UNBC must strictly adhere to the following guidelines for using the product effective September 2013 to ensure all practices continue to comply with B.C.’s Protection of Privacy legislation.

To comply with UNBC guidelines, informed by protection of privacy rules, instructors who use learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign are required to:

  1. State the intent to use learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign in their course outline (see boilerplate below), thereby making it a course requirement, and explain that the consequence of declining to use learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign could result in being unable to complete the course.
  2. Inform students of UNBC’s policies and guidelines with respect to academic integrity, in general, and learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign, in particular.
  3. Use learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign only for a course and not personal use (e.g., submitting an article that you are peer reviewing).
  4. Refrain from uploading student data directly to the learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign system. Instructors may only submit student work directly to learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign that is first anonymized by removing all personal information that would serve to identify the student (i.e., name, student ID number, etc.: see instructions below). B.C. privacy law prohibits instructors from directly entering student information on a system that stores and provides access to personal information outside Canada.

Instructors are further advised that:

  1. If a student has a serious, principled objection to using learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign, the instructor has the discretion to offer an alternative process to the student. Students must, however, give adequate notice and reason for of their objection.
  2. The reports generated by SafeAssign are meant to provide a measure of assistance when addressing plagiarism. They are by no means meant to serve as proof
    of plagiarism. The report should prompt further investigation by the instructor, conversations with student(s) in question, and observance of academic office guidelines outlined in the UNBC Calendar http://www.unbc.ca/calendar/undergraduate/regulations
  3. If you have further questions about SafeAssign, please contact the CTLT.

Students should be aware that:

  1. They submit assignments as they normally would in learn.unbc.ca, but there will
    be instructions that remind them that their assignment is going to be analysed by SafeAssign. Depending on how the settings have been activated by the instructor, they may or may not see the report generated by SafeAssign.
  2. If students have FIPPA concerns, they should remove any real identifying information (name, student number) and save their file from Word or NotePad as a .txt file. The instructor may ask them to use an assigned pseudonym.

Best Practices for Using SafeAssign

SafeAssign is not a replacement for all of your current best practices to prevent plagiarism. Please continue to include information related to plagiarism and academic misconduct in your course outlines, talk to your students about the importance of academic integrity, provide them with the resources to learn about proper citation styles and practices and encourage them to seek assistance through the Academic Success Centre. You could also use SafeAssign as a teaching tool for your students to learn about plagiarism.

A SafeAssignment is created in the assignments section in the same way that an assignment is set up normally, with some setting variations. Once an assignment is submitted, it gets sent to the SafeAssign service, where it is analysed by the software. A report is generated for the instructor and appears in the Assignment interface. The report can be downloaded or printed, and indicates what percent of the assignment was plagiarized and what the likely sources were. Remember that these percentages are guides and not absolutes and you will still need to investigate all papers of concern. Instructors can have the tool set to analyse every single assignment or can use a direct submit option to upload only specific assignments by specific students.

To comply with FIPPA, the assignments should be anonymized as much as possible. Since Word Processing software can sometime slip in identifying information there are a few options for ensuring student information is not being sent across the border.

  1. Require that students submit their assignments in .txt format (cutting and pasting into Notepad, and then saving as .txt). Students should not include a cover page with their real name on it or student number. A pseudonym could be assigned at the beginning of the class for assignment submissions, with instructors holding a master student pseudonym master list outside of learn.unbc.ca.
  2. The safest option is for an instructor to use the Direct Submit option. Instructors would need to cut and paste the assignment into the Copy/Paste Document box (see below) and use a title like Student 1 to anonymize the paper as much as possible. This would be more time consuming for the instructor if there are a lot of students but is probably the best for complying with FIPPA

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Recommended Syllabus Statement

By enrolling in this course, you hereby acknowledge and consent to the use of SafeAssign by the instructor and/or TA. SafeAssign is a third party service licensed for use by UNBC. learn.unbc.ca. SafeAssign is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. Students are not required to create an account with learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign, but their work may be submitted to SafeAssign, under the terms of the learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign terms of use and privacy agreement. This agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as part of the learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign database. Any student with a concern about using the learn.unbc.ca SafeAssign service must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline.