Does Turnitin Detect ChatGPT – Breaking Down All the Facts

When you hear the word Turnitin, the first thing that strikes your mind is the plagiarism checker because that’s what the tool initially gained traction for. 

With its ability to generate human-like text, ChatGPT has sparked discussions about its potential use in academic settings and, inevitably, its interaction with plagiarism detection tools like Turnitin. Does Turnitin successfully detect ChatGPT content?

More on that and the uses of Turnitin will be discussed at length in this guide for you to get a comprehensive understanding of AI detection and its significance.


Understanding Turnitin and its Mode of Work

Before delving into the detectability aspect, it’s crucial to understand what Turnitin is and how it works.

Turnitin is widely used plagiarism detection software employed by educational institutions worldwide. It compares submitted documents to a vast database of academic and non-academic content, identifying potential instances of plagiarism by highlighting matching or highly similar text passages. 

Turnitin offers educators a tool to promote academic integrity and discourage plagiarism among students.

Although the tool is primarily popular among educators, it has recently gained traction in the marketing and business side of things as well. 

We discussed previously that Turnitin was popularized as a plagiarism checker. However, it has recently gained traction as an AI detection tool as well. When discussing the way this tool works, its mode of action is pretty much the same as all the other AI detection tools available online.

The content that you paste into the tool is first segmented into parts by the tool, following which it is fragmented and then checked for randomness. The higher the randomness score, the less likely it is to be written by an AI tool.

As for the plagiarism check goes, Turnitin has a comprehensive database that it has been trained with, which it cross references with the pasted content to find copied content and mark it as plagiarised.

Does Turnitin Detect ChatGPT Content?

We have talked praise about Turnitin and its extensive range of features but the question fizzles down to one, “Does it detect ChatGPT content?” The answer is yes.

And, not just yes, according to reports, Turnitin can detect ChatGPT content with 98% accuracy, which is impressive.

Since there are a lot of false positives associated with the AI detection tools, none of them can guarantee 100% accuracy when it comes to detecting the content, which goes to show that the 98% accuracy is pretty impressive too.

There are reports that people that have a subscription to Turnitin Originality will be able to access more with this AI detection too. Instead of being only available to students and teachers, this tool will be made available to the general public to help them navigate through the challenges and the lack of transparency that comes with AI-generated content.

What is the Significance of Turnitin’s AI Detection Tool?

The advent of ChatGPT and similar AI language models have no doubt made people’s lives easier but it has also introduced a lot of challenges, especially concerning the academic integrity of the students and the assignments they are submitting in school.

With the release of Turnitin’s AI detection tool and similar other AI detectors, it is not only creating a more extensive way to overcome the hassle that comes with AI-written content, but it is also enhancing the ethical use of AI technology in the present world.

Compared to the other AI detectors on the internet, Turnitin is a fairly new option in the game and its technology is fast evolving as well.

How Can Educators Use Turnitin to Detect ChatGPT?

Turnitin, as we previously mentioned, is a popular tool that’s used by students and teachers to cross-check plagiarism in the content. That was what the tool was initially developed for.

And, while it can still aptly detect plagiarised content, Turnitin is consistently evolving as well, providing users access to more extensive content solutions, including AI detection.

With how quickly ChatGPT is expanding and taking over the process of content development, introducing accurate and reliable AI detection tools is the need of the hour and that’s where Turnitin steps in.

Not just the general public, educators can use Turnitin to cross-check the authenticity of the content their students are submitting. For example, educators can cross-check assignments and check if any part of the assignment has been written using AI to flag the content and warn the student about potential misconduct.

However, since AI detection tools often show false positives, there’s no point in falsely accusing students of a mistake they didn’t commit. The best way to cross-check is by counter-questioning the student about the topic and seeing how much of it they understand. If they are blank while answering but they seem to have written the assignment quite well, it goes to show that there is foul play involved.

What are the Factors that Turnitin Uses to Detect ChatGPT Content?

Detecting ChatGPT-generated content using Turnitin involves several mechanisms and challenges. To be fair, there are multiple factors and elements involved that deserve a special mention, so let us walk you through them:

Text matching – It compares the submitted text against a vast repository of existing documents, both from the internet and its internal database. Since ChatGPT creates the responses based on the available data, text matching helps in detecting foul play involved.

Contextual understanding – Content written by ChatGPT often has less randomness and burstiness in the content, meaning that reading through the content will give you an idea that it is most likely written by an AI tool. This is another factor that Turnitin uses to depict whether the content is AI written or human-written.

Uniqueness – ChatGPT can generate a multitude of unique responses to the same prompt, introducing significant variations in the generated content. This often makes it difficult for AI detectors like Turnitin to analyze whether the content is AI written. That said, Turnitin has been developed and modified to be able to overcome those challenges by identifying potential matches in the content submitted.

These are some of the mechanisms through which Turnitin detects the content to find if it’s written by AI or generated by humans. That said, one thing that you have to prioritize when it comes to Turnitin’s AI detection are the challenges:

Limited training data – Turnitin’s database primarily consists of academic documents and previously submitted assignments. It may not have an extensive collection of ChatGPT-generated content to compare against, hindering its ability to flag such content.

Reduced detection probability – Turnitin’s effectiveness relies on its database, while ChatGPT learns from a diverse range of internet text. This distinction means ChatGPT’s responses could potentially contain content that Turnitin has not encountered before, reducing the likelihood of detection.

Despite all of these challenges, Turnitin is working effortlessly to simplify the way people write, detect and analyze content in the long run.

What are the Ethical Shortcomings of using ChatGPT?

The advent of ChatGPT has come off as a curse and a boon. While it reduces the research time and provides easy and direct access to “human-like” content, it has also affected the ethical implications concerning the way students and writers are creating assignments and content.

It is no doubt that using ChatGPT comes with a sense of benefit, especially because it reduces the workload and makes it easier for the students to create their assignments in record time.

However, the question is, “Is it ethical?” In short, it is not.

AI chatbots like ChatGPT, despite their brilliance, are highly unethical, especially when we are talking about the academic side of things, where students are completing their assignments and papers using this tool.

Not just essays and papers, there are insights wherein students are using ChatGPT to complete their exams, which is on a whole another level of wrong.

Will Teachers be Able to Tell if an Assignment is Written by ChatGPT?

This is where Turnitin plays a crucial role. As we mentioned, Turnitin can detect ChatGPT content with 98% accuracy, which is quite impressive.

So, let’s assume that as a teacher, you have to detect whether the student has written the content themselves or via ChatGPT. The easiest way of detection is by pasting the content on Turnitin and checking.

If the report shows it is AI-written, the teacher must cross-check and counter-questions the students about the assignment to test their knowledge. Turnitin can showcase false positives too, so cross-checking the assignment with the student is the right way to go.


Turnitin is an evolving tool, which does more than just check a content’s plagiarism. If you have been wondering about the efficacy of the AI detection feature of Turnitin, the good news is that the feature is one of a kind and quite accurate too. You do need access to its premium subscription to be able to access this feature, so keep that in mind. Besides that, Turnitin’s developers have confirmed that the tool is being improved and developed daily, so the efficiency and accuracy are improving each day.

Leave a Comment