SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of academic papers to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works.

SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool. Use SafeAssign to empower instructors to review assignment submissions for originality and create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase.

SafeAssign Sources

SafeAssign is based on a unique text matching algorithm capable of detecting exact and inexact matching between a paper and source material. Submissions are compared against several databases:

  • Global Reference Database: Contains over 15 million papers volunteered by students from Blackboard client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism.
  • Institutional document archives: Contains all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institutions.
  • Internet: SafeAssign searches across the broader internet for matching text using an internal search service.
  • ProQuest ABI/Inform Journal Database: More than 3,000 publication titles, 4.5 million documents, and over 200 topical categories from the 1970s to present time and covering topics from Advertising to Women's Studies.

Global Reference Database

Blackboard's Global Reference Database is a separate database where students voluntarily donate copies of their papers to help promote originality. This database is separated from each institution's internal database, where all papers are stored by each corresponding institution. Students are free to select the option to check their papers without submitting them to the Global Reference Database. Students submit their papers to the database voluntarily and agree not to delete papers in the future. Submissions to the Global Reference Database are extra copies that are given voluntarily for the purpose of helping with originality. Blackboard doesn't claim ownership of submitted papers.

Internal search engine

The internet search indexes used by SafeAssign are designed for reliability, performance, and efficiency against the large scale of search queries executed by SafeAssign. These search indexes can't be refreshed as frequently as those used by consumer internet search services. Generally, these indexes can be expected to be current within 1-3 days of a change. Due to the combination of these search index characteristics and the weighting applied by the SafeAssign algorithm, results returned in a SafeAssign Originality Report may not be identical to results returned by a consumer internet search service for any individual sentence or phrase.

Previously, Blackboard SafeAssign relied on the Yahoo! BOSS service to provide results from the broader internet. Due to the deprecation of the Yahoo! BOSS service on March 31, 2016, Blackboard has developed an internal search service to provide internet results for SafeAssign. No customer action is required to enable the SafeAssign internal search service, as the change was made in the SafeAssign Central Service and applies to all clients.

The internal search service is built using the latest search crawling and indexing technologies, and allows Blackboard to significantly reduce dependency and exposure to third-party tools. Because the search service is now administered internally, Blackboard has the ability to enhance and refine search results over time and improve the overall SafeAssign product quality and performance. Additionally, any potential concern of client data being shared with Blackboard partners is entirely mitigated using this new approach to providing search results from the internet.

Due to the ever-changing nature of the internet, there may be occasions when the SafeAssign internal search service does not yet include specific webpages or websites and as a consequence SafeAssign Originality Reports may not identify potentially matching text within student works. When these situations arise, Blackboard will investigate the source web content and, if possible, add the content to the SafeAssign internal search service for future submissions.

The development of the SafeAssign internal search service further demonstrates Blackboard's commitment to supporting the SafeAssign product functionality and customers' use of the SafeAssign service. As always, Blackboard will continue to monitor SafeAssign for improvement opportunities and encourages customer feedback regarding search results and overall SafeAssign performance.

As a reminder, results returned in a SafeAssign Originality Report may not be identical to results returned by a consumer internet search service (e.g. Google, Bing, etc.) for any individual sentence or phrase. The results from the SafeAssign service are only meant to be a tool for use at the discretion of the teacher or instructor. Due to the size and scope of both academic subject matter and the number of resources searched by SafeAssign, the results are not meant to guarantee or otherwise indicate that plagiarism has or has not occurred. The assessment of potential plagiarism should reside in the hands of the instructor, and SafeAssign results should always be considered in the context of other resources and good judgment.

Original: Suggest a new URL

This tool is only available in Blackboard Learn courses using the Original Course View

You can suggest to SafeAssign additional webpages and websites that haven't been flagged or referenced in Originality Reports with the URL Adder tool.

To access the URL Adder tool, instructors can go to Course Tools and then SafeAssign. From the SafeAssign page, select Suggest URL to submit a web address.

If a user suggests a specific webpage, SafeAssign attempts to include all webpages available under the base website URL. For example, suggesting will attempt to find all webpages associated with the base website URL.

Any URLs included with the URL Adder tool are available to all SafeAssign users and institutions, meaning that suggesting URLs can benefit the entire SafeAssign community.

Supported files

SafeAssign only supports file types that are convertible to plain text, which includes these file types: DOCX, DOC, PPT, PPTX, PDF, TXT, ODT, RTF, HTML, and HTM. Spreadsheet files aren't supported.

SafeAssign also accepts ZIP files and processes files that match any of these file types.

SafeAssign counts and displays the total number of attachments in a submission, as well as the number of attachments processed by SafeAssign. SafeAssign only processes and creates Originality Reports for attachments that match the supported file types. For unsupported file types, the SafeAssign Originality Report omits a matching score.

To ensure correct functionality, all submitted files must be under 10 MB and 100,000 words. Otherwise, SafeAssign will be unable to process them.

SafeAssign Originality Reports

After a submission is processed, a report is generated detailing the percentage of text in the submitted paper that matches existing sources. The report shows the suspected sources for each section of the submitted paper that returns a match. Instructors can delete matching sources from the report and process it again if the paper is a continuation of a previously submitted work by the same student.

Read the report carefully and investigate whether each block of text is properly attributed.

More on SafeAssign Originality Reports

SafeAssign in action

Learn how to set up SafeAssign at your institution.