SafeAssign Frequently Asked Questions
See the SafeAssign On-Demand video (Blackboard 3 minutes)
- 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 centrally hosted by Blackboard. It is based on a mature and proven technology that Blackboard
acquired and enhanced to offer even better stability, performance, and integration
with other Blackboard products.
- How does the tool work?
SafeAssign can be used in two ways.
- Instructors 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 one provided currently by Blackboard Learning System. The
papers will then be delivered to instructors through the Blackboard Learning
System together with the SafeAssign Originality Reports, which details
the results of the matching process.
- Instructors 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
instructors to view a line-by-line comparison of potentially unoriginal
text from submitted papers and the matching external documents.
- Can students view reports?
If instructors enable student viewing, each student can view the reports
for their own submitted papers.
- What training materials are available?
See the Blackboard Instructor's Guide for information about SafeAssign and other Blackboard tools. To find the instructor's guide:
What kind of user support is offered with the product?
- Go to the Control Panel.
- Select Help.
- Click on Blackboard Help.
- Search for SafeAssign.
Students can learn about SafeAssign in Blackboard's Student Guide. This document explains how SafeAssign works, how to submit a SafeAssignment, how to view submissions, and explains the SafeAssign Originality report.
What databases does SafeAssign currently use for plagiarism checking?
SafeAssign currently checks all submitted papers against the following databases:
What is the Institutional Database?
- Internet – comprehensive index of documents available for public access on the Internet
- ProQuest ABI/Inform database – more than 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from 1990s to present time, updated weekly (exclusive access)
- Institutional document archives – contains all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institutions
- Global Reference Database – contains papers that were volunteered by students from Blackboard client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism
The Institutional Database is the archive of papers submitted by students
at the College of DuPage. COD'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 COD. The Institutional Database is completely
separate from the Global Reference Database which extends across institutions
and to which students must volunteer their papers.
What is the Release Statement?
The Release Statement is text included with every SafeAssignment to inform
students that their paper will be compared to other sources through SafeAssign.
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.
Who owns the intellectual property rights for each submitted
Blackboard does not claim any ownership rights on the content submitted to
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. Results are normally available within 10-15 minutes.
What file formats does SafeAssign support?
SafeAssign only accepts certain types of files, including:
How should students name their files?
- Microsoft Word: .doc and .docx
- PDF: .pdf
- Web page: .htm and .html
- Plain text: .txt
- Rich text: .rtf
- Instructors can also submit packages of multiple files: .zip
Like any assignment in Blackboard, students should only use alphanumeric characters in the file names. No spaces, no underscores, no apostrophes, etc. See the FAQ: Are there any file naming rules that I should be aware of?
- 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 claiming 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 is the size of the Global Reference Database?
The Global Reference Database is a new product, so its current size is not
an indication of its future potential. Blackboard expects accelerating
growth, based on rapidly increasing adoption of this new service among
- What if a student decides to remove a paper from the Global Reference
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
by Blackboard or by institutions they are enrolled into?
All papers are submitted to the Global Reference Database voluntarily, and
students are free to choose not to submit their papers to this database. Instructors
can still use the service effectively, even when students choose not to submit
their papers to the Global Reference Database.
Copying or Moving SafeAssignments to another course
Why doesn't my SafeAssignment work after a course copy?
After performing a
course copy or moving an individual SafeAssignment to another course, instructors
must perform an additional step to activate the SafeAssignment in the new course.
- In the Control Panel, select Course Tools.
- Click SafeAssign.
- On the SafeAssign screen, click SafeAssignments.
- On the SafeAssignments screen, click the Synchronize this Course button on the far right. This will establish the link between
the SafeAssignment and the Central SafeAssign server
- You will see a notice, "Please wait. This course is being synchronized with SafeAssign. The page will load as soon as the synchronization is over."
- You will be brought back to the SafeAssignments screen.
See these helpful websites for "how to" information: