Building Bridges:

Supporting institutional processes and practice in academic writing, feedback and student assessment

Jill Fresen


The SIPA (Supporting Institutional Practice in feedback and Assessment) project at the University of Oxford was initiated and run by the IT Services Department which supports the central VLE and the use of Turnitin. The aims of the SIPA project were to review current use of Turnitin by staff and students; run a pilot project to test the use of GradeMark and PeerMark; develop case studies, support materials and training courses for staff and students; and make recommendations resulting from these reviews. Besides the practical deliverables of the SIPA project, an important requirement was to establish and build relationships with institutional stakeholders. Many other stakeholders and experts, such as the central educational policy unit, the libraries, continuing education and the professional development unit, should be involved in order to build an integrated institutional strategy for academic writing and plagiarism awareness.

This paper charts the course of the SIPA project and will demonstrate some of the deliverables produced. The establishment of an institutional Turnitin User Group and increased promotion of the Turnitin support service at the university appear to have made a positive impact. The use of Turnitin is growing, particularly among administrators using Turnitin for quick checks for suspected plagiarism. It remains a challenge to engage academics in interpreting originality reports, or using GradeMark and PeerMark. The VLE team gained a much deeper understanding of Turnitin and allied products, and has taken the lead in negotiations with both the open source VLE community and the Turnitin suppliers in terms of mutually beneficial cooperation.

This paper was submitted to the International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference which ran between 2004-2014. The paper was peer reviewed by an independent editorial board and features in the conference proceedings.