Month: January 2013


Turnitin word count accuracy

A number of colleagues have enquired about the accuracy and reliability of the Turnitin word-count. I have found it to be very reliable in that it is consistent, but there a number of variables which have to be taken into account. The format of the submitted document and the use of footnotes can produce different results.

To investigate and demonstrate this I created and uploaded four documents. Of these, two were in .doc format and two were PDFs. One of each format used footnotes. A word-count was taken in MS Word before submitting to Turnitin.

The results are tabulated and analysed below:

  1. A submission in Word format without footnotes is 100% accurate
  2. A submission in PDF format without footnotes overestimates by 0.2%
  3. A submission in Word format with footnotes is accurate but only the body of the text is counted, and not the footnotes
  4. A submission in PDF format with footnotes counts both body text and footnotes, but overestimates by 2.2% 

The investigation found that Turnitin is accurate, but tends to over-estimate where documents have been saved as PDFs. This is more pronounced when footnotes have been used. Footnotes are counted in PDF documents but are not counted when submitted as part of a word document.

For more information and advice on the use of Turnitin, including online marking and feedback with Grademark, please visit (requires RHUL log-on credentials).


Me and MOOCs: Why I signed up

My interest in MOOCs was initially fuelled by scepticism – that what I later understood to be xMOOCs were little more than modern correspondence courses but without the envelopes (or the correspondence), and that the M stood for Marketing. I was also intrigued with the idea of supporting, or not, tens of thousands of users with their technical and learning needs.

Fast-forward a bit and I am better informed about the different kinds of MOOC. I’m very excited about the prospect of meeting and working with new people, breaking out of my long-held view that there should be a centralised ‘place’ to support online learning, using different tools, and, most importantly, developing and sharing new and established knowledge.

I’m also using my participation in three MOOCs to kickstart my professional development after a long period of fire-fighting at work, and to learn more about learning design in particular, and MOOCs in general.