Can ChatGPT be detected by Turnitin? – Turnitin AI detection explained

Turnitin has new detection technology that is able to sniff out AI-generated text

Can ChatGPT be detected by Turnitin? Educational software AI-generated text detector

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ChatGPT, like all good LLMs, is particularly good at writing essays. OpenAI’s advanced AI language model can generate human-like text from written prompts. Its capabilities extend to everything from helping people communicate more effectively, to assisting with customer service, and even as a writing tool. Yes, that includes your homework. However, there is a chance that OpenAI’s AI chatbot can be detected as the writer of your document. Therefore, before cheating on all your assignments, you might first want to ask “Can ChatGPT be detected by Turnitin”?

Can Turnitin detect AI?

Students across the world have been taking notice of ChatGPT’s abilities. There is the temptation for many students to use the chatbot (among other AI writing tools) to write their essays. At the same time, the need for an AI detector has sprung up among educators to combat this practice. Academic integrity aside, there are some risks with using ChatGPT on work you plan on submitting.

Yes, Turnitin is one such AI detector.

How does Turnitin work?

Turnitin is a plagiarism detection software application that educational institutions widely use to check for plagiarism in student assignments. It compares the work to a comprehensive database of previously submitted work and runs an originality check.

Moreover, it compares that work to other sources on the internet to identify any instances of plagiarism. Turnitin has become a valuable tool for instructors and professors to ensure academic integrity. While plagiarism detection by itself is not an AI-powered process, the software’s new AI writing indicator adds a new tool to the educator’s arsenal.

Paraphrasing or “remixing” AI-written text through a service such as Quillbot has so far proven effective in boosting content’s originality score.

While not advised overall, for the sake of good spelling and grammar, unique misspellings such as “chathpt”, “cahtgpt”, and “chatgbt” count against the confidence score that Turnitin uses to detect plagiarism. Attempting to avoid Turnitin’s detection algorithms can hurt your writing process more than help it.

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Can ChatGPT be detected by Turnitin?

Without a doubt, yes! Turnitin has a new AI writing indicator that can detect AI-generated content with up to 98% accuracy. Launched on April 4th, 2023, it even has the detection capability to flag AI-assisted content. The AI tools join Turnitin’s plagiarism checker to ensure that, even as technology advances, large language models aren’t the reason our future doctors and engineers ‘faked it till they made it’.

Annie Chechitelli, Chief Product Officer at Turnitin, is confident in the AI-checking capabilities of the software.

“Our model has been trained specifically on academic writing sourced from a comprehensive database, as opposed to solely publicly available content. As a result, Turnitin is more tuned to finding instances of potential dishonesty in student assignments.”

Annie Chechitelli, Chief Product Officer at Turnitin

Can AI be detected by Turnitin?

Turnitin technology can also be applied to Google Bard, as well as Microsoft’s Bing Chat.

Next year, Turnitin plans to release the tool more widely to those who have a subscription to Turnitin Originality.

The creators say this new functionality will be added to the Similarity Report. This will help to show the likelihood that the document was AI-generated.

The detector is currently only available to non-students and educational institutions. And, only instructors and administrators are able to see the indicator score in the report.

Turnitin AI detection – How does Turnitin detect ChatGPT?

AI-generated text detectors use various methods to check whether or not text was written by AI. In addition to the more subjective methodologies mentioned in this article, some companies are working on an “AI signature”. An AI signature will be an invisible addition to text generated by an AI chatbot that other AI detection systems will be able to check for to conclusively prove the use of AI.

This signature does not simply mean more text, say the phrase “This text is AI-generated”, but in white. This would be too easy to circumvent – by highlighting all text, changing color to black (including text that was already black, that wouldn’t matter), and deleting the revealed signature.

It would need to be more sophisticated. Something that can be hidden in plain text format, with no colors, and without disrupting the content of the text. A trademark pattern of characters, perhaps spaces – a technique used by Elon Musk to catch the employee leaking emails in 2008.

Can Turnitin detect AI? – ChatGPT vs Bard vs Bing Chat

Achieving 100% accuracy is exceedingly difficult, largely due to false positives. AI detection software can falsely claim to detect AI-written text that was in fact human-written. This issue extends to all AI detection softwares. It is not exclusively a Turnitin AI detection problem. The problem is somewhat philosophical – after all, how do you tell the process of creation apart by the end result alone, when the end result is quantifiably identical?

It is likely that the GPT-4 model, accessible via one of OpenAI’s paid subscriptions – ChatGPT Plus or ChatGPT Enterprise – does a better job of avoiding AI content detection. The August 22 update – “GPT-3.5 Turbo fine-tuning and API updates” – brings finer tonal control to the same end. The following snippet from the OpenAI website explains how GPT-3.5 Turbo can help you sound more like you, and less like a generalized language model, even through the free version of ChatGPT.

Custom tone: Fine-tuning is a great way to hone the qualitative feel of the model output, such as its tone, so it better fits the voice of businesses’ brands. A business with a recognizable brand voice can use fine-tuning for the model to be more consistent with its tone.

Why is this Significant?

Detection technology, such as AI detectors, has been appearing rapidly since ChatGPT’s launch back in November. As time has passed, these detection tools are getting much more sophisticated and accurate at sniffing out AI-generated content. If ChatGPT can be detected by Turnitin, it can be detected by other software too. Furthermore, other AI content writers can also be detected by those safe software.

Something to consider, though, is that AI chatbots are continuously changing. Just recently OpenAI has implemented a newer language model (GPT-4) to power Chat GPT. With updates constantly happening it will be interesting to see how AI detectors hold up.

Additionally, students need to use academic integrity when completing assignments. Using ChatGPT to write an entire paper would be plagiarism. Students need to understand that using artificial intelligence in this way is not a replacement for their academic work and critical thinking skills.

How can instructors detect the use of ChatGPT?

Other than AI detection software, there are other methods that instructors can use to identify the use of artificial intelligence in student assignments.

One method is to analyze the language and style of the writing. ChatGPT has a particular style and may use certain phrases or words that are not typical of a student’s work.

Instructors can ask students to explain certain concepts or ideas in their own words. In doing so, they can determine if the students truly understand the material.

Has anyone been caught using ChatGPT?

Yes, students of all ages have been caught using ChatGPT. Of course, it’s usually not a big enough deal to hit the news cycle – save some notable examples.

Several reported cases have come to light where professors have recognized this phenomenon. Typically, they do so through the style of writing, which might deviate from a student’s usual style. Educators may also notice the presence of exceptionally well-crafted points that lack cohesion between themselves.

The ethical implications of using ChatGPT

What is your authenticity worth? The use of artificial intelligence in academic writing raises important ethical questions. Nevertheless, ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for students struggling to express their ideas. However, these thoughts cannot be considered fully original. So they don’t count as answers in exams or for assignments.

It can cheat or make shortcuts in writing. It is crucial for students to understand these ethical implications before they use ChatGPT and to use it responsibly.


Does Turnitin detect paraphrasing from ChatGPT?

Detecting the act of paraphrasing itself is functionally impossible. It would take some extremely advanced NLP (natural language processing) to detect that a set of text had been changed from a different set of text, which itself was copied or plagiarised from a third-party source. This is, no doubt, the scenario you’re really asking about.

The extrapolation involved in this scenario would reduce the confidence score to an absolutely unusable level. Refer to the example below;

Text before AI paraphrasingText after AI paraphrasing by GPT-3.5
“This is a short paragraph, written by a human with redundant text for demonstrational purposes. Imagine, in this scenario, that this text had been plagiarised. The plagiarist would then run this through an AI chatbot, using the AI to paraphrase it until it becomes different enough to the original to the effect that it cannot be considered plagiarism anymore.” – 37% confidence of AI by GPT Zero“This is a brief passage, composed by an AI with redundant content for demonstrational purposes. Picture, in this scenario, that this text had been plagiarized. The plagiarizer would then employ an AI chatbot, utilizing the AI to rephrase it until it diverges sufficiently from the original to the point where it can no longer be deemed as plagiarism.” – 31% confidence of AI by GPT Zero
GPT-3.5 was told to replace all instances of the word “human” with “AI” to exemplify the point.
Human-written text analyzed by GPT Zero.
Human-written text analyzed by GPT Zero.
Can ChatGPT paraphrasing be detected by ChatGPT.
Can ChatGPT paraphrasing be detected by ChatGPT?
A screen shot of a page with a text box on it, Turnitin.
AI-written text analyzed by GPT Zero.


So, can ChatGPT be detected by Turnitin? Well, yes it can! While this may concern some, students need to understand that using artificial intelligence in this way is not a replacement for their academic work and critical thinking skills.

It is important for instructors to be aware of the potential use of ChatGPT and to use detection systems to overcome it. Ultimately, students must consider the ethical implications of using ChatGPT, and so do the instructors.