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Blackboard Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

SafeAssign

What is SafeAssign?

SafeAssign is a plagiarism prevention service, offered by Blackboard. This service helps educators prevent plagiarism by detecting unoriginal content in student papers. In addition to acting as a plagiarism deterrent, it also has features designed to aid in educating students about plagiarism and the importance of proper attribution of any borrowed content.

SafeAssign is a part of the Blackboard Beyond family and is centrally hosted by Blackboard, like the rest of the Beyond products and services. Although it is a new Blackboard service, it is based on a mature and proven technology that Blackboard acquired from Sciworth Inc. (MyDropBox) and enhanced to offer even better stability, performance, and integration with other Blackboard products. For more information, go to www.niu.edu/blackboard/assess/safeassign.shtml.

How does the tool work?

SafeAssign can be used in two ways.

  1. Faculty Members can set up SafeAssignments in their courses on Blackboard and let students submit papers to complete these assignments, in a way very similar to the Assignmnent tool provided by Blackboard Learning System. The papers will then be delivered to Faculty Members through the Blackboard Learning System together with the SafeAssign Originality Reports, which details the results of the matching process.
  2. Faculty Members may upload papers directly, without student involvement through the Direct Submit feature.

What information does SafeAssign provide in its reports?

A SafeAssign Originality Report highlights any blocks of text in submitted documents that match reference sources, and links back to the matching documents on the Internet or in supported content databases. SafeAssign reports also show similarity ratings for each matching sentence and allow Faculty Members to view a line-by-line comparison of potentially unoriginal text from submitted papers and the matching external documents.

Can students view reports?

If intructors enable student viewing, each student can view the reports for their own submitted papers.

What training materials are available?

The following training materials are available to SafeAssign end-users:

What databases does SafeAssign currently use for plagiarism checking?

SafeAssign currently checks all submitted papers against the following databases:

  • Internet - comprehensive index of billions of documents available for public access on the Internet;
  • ProQuest ABI/Inform database with over 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from '90s to present time, updated weekly (exclusive access);
  • Institutional document archives containing all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institutions;
  • Global Reference Database containing papers that were volunteered by students from Blackboard client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism.

What is the Institutional Database?

The Institutional Database is the archive of papers submitted by students in your institution. Each institution's Institutional Database is stored in the central SafeAssign service and kept separate from other institution's databases. Papers are automatically added to this database upon submission and are stored in the central service to be checked against other papers submitted from your institution. The Institutional Database is completely separate from the Global Reference Database which extends across institutions and students must volunteer their papers to.

Will the tool be offered in multiple languages?

SafeAssign can generate originality reports for papers written in all alphabet-based languages with left-to-right writing. The user interface is currently only available in English.

Why was plagiarism prevention chosen as a new Blackboard Beyond service?

Plagiarism prevention is a popular service that helps faculty members address an existing classroom issue in an efficient manner. It has been used effectively to deter plagiarism and educate students about proper citation of sources, and is consistent with Blackboard's mission of using innovation and technology to empower educators.

This product is offered as a Beyond service because, like other Beyond products, it is centrally-hosted by Blackboard and other than the SafeAssign Building Block" or SafeAssign PowerLink", it does not require any additional equipment or software on the client side. It also includes the Global Reference Database, which is a shared resource created by the Blackboard user community to cooperatively prevent plagiarism.

Who owns the intellectual property rights for each submitted paper?

Blackboard does not claim any ownership rights on the content submitted to SafeAssign.

How long does it take to generate plagiarism reports?

Reports are not generated instantaneously - it usually takes from several seconds to few minutes to receive a report.

What file formats does SafeAssign support?

SafeAssign supports Word (.doc or .docx), plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), .pdf, and .html formats. In addition, supported file types can be compressed to a .zip file for Direct Submit.

How does the Global Reference Database work?

Blackboard's Global Reference Database is a separate database where students voluntarily donate copies of their papers to help prevent plagiarism. It is separated from each institution's internal database, where all papers are stored by each corresponding institution, and students are free to select the option to check their papers without submitting them to the Global Reference Database.

Does Blackboard claim ownership on the content submitted to the Global Reference Database?

No, Blackboard is only authorized to store extra copies of student papers that were volunteered and use them for plagiarism prevention purposes.

What if a student decides to remove a paper from the Global Reference Database?

Students submit their papers to the database voluntarily and agree not to remove papers in the future.

Are students forced to submit papers to the Global Reference Database either by Blackboard or NIU?

All papers are submitted to the Global Reference Database voluntarily, and students are free to choose not to submit their papers to this database. Faculty Members can still use the service effectively, even when students choose not to submit their papers to the Global Reference Database.

What is the SafeAssign "Synchronize this Course" option that appears in the "Direct Submit" area?

The synchronize function is to deal with breaks in communication or to update a course which is based on a template or has been copied. It is a good idea for the faculty member to click on this when first using SafeAssign and to periodically update it or update if any course level issues arise. It simply synchronizes the papers in the course with the SafeAssign central database, ensuring the correct associations exist between the course and our central database.

Can students directly submit a draft assignment to check without having it deployed as a SafeAssignment via the instructor or having it be tied to the Grade Center in Blackboard?

There is the option to make an assignment a draft. In this case, as mentioned above, the paper is not checked into the institutional database.

Why did SafeAssignment scores in the Grade Center get deleted after the students submitted their assignments?

Make sure to enter SafeAssignment scores in the Grade Center after the students submit their assignments. Scores assigned prior to SafeAssignment submission are deleted when students submit their assignments. If paper assignments are collected together with a Blackboard SafeAssign feature, make sure to enter student grades after they have submitted their assignments electronically through SafeAssign.

How can I download all of the SafeAssign submissions at once?

It is possible to download all of the files that the students submitted to a SafeAssignment. This does not include the originality reports. Those must be viewed within Blackboard directly.

To download all of the submitted files:

  1. From the course with the SafeAssignment, open Course Tools in the Control Panel
  2. Click SafeAssign
  3. On the next page, choose SafeAssignments
  4. Move your mouse cursor over the SafeAssignment you are interested in. When the Action Link appears, click it and choose View Submissions from the menu
  5. Click the Download All Submissions button at the top of the page

Your browser will download a .zip folder that has all of the submissions. You can open the folder or extract the files to read the individual submissions.


Most answers to FAQs provided by the SafeAssign Wiki: http://wiki.safeassign.com

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Last Updated: 09/21/2012