SafeAssign - Frequently Asked Questions

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. Learn more.

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 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.
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.
What is the file size limit for files submitted to SafeAssign?
There is a 10 MB limit on all files submitted to SafeAssign. This applies to individual student uploads to Assignments with SafeAssign enabled as well as .zip files of multiple papers uploaded by faculty using the Direct Submit feature (in which case the .zip file must be under 10 MB). Unfortunately, this limit is set by the SafeAssign servers, which are managed by Blackboard, so it cannot be overridden.
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.
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.
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.

Why do my students and I occasionally get an error message that we are not logged into SafeAssign?

If you get this error and you are logged into Blackboard, it means that the security or privacy settings of your web browser are set to not allow 3rd-party cookies. You will need to change that setting to be able to use SafeAssign.

For Internet Explorer:

  1. Click Tools
  2. Click Internet Options
  3. Click Privacy
  4. Set the setting to Low

For Firefox:

  1. Click Tools
  2. Click Options
  3. Click Privacy
  4. Select Accept cookies from site
  5. Select Accept third-party cookies
  6. Change Keep until to they expire

For Safari:

  1. Click Safari
  2. Click Preferences
  3. Click Security
  4. Change Accept cookies to Always
A student tried to access or submit an Assignment with SafeAssign enabled, and received the error message "This course is out of sync with SafeAssign, please ask your instructor to re-sync your assignment." What should I do?

If you or your students receive this error, you will need to re-synchronize your course. To do so:

  1. Underneath the Control Panel, expand the Course Tools menu.
  2. Click SafeAssign.
  3. On the following page, click SafeAssign Items.
  4. On the SafeAssign Items page, click the Synchronize this course button.
  5. You may briefly see a message telling you it will take a moment to synchronize. Your student(s) should now be able to access the Assignment.

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