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Athens State University Knowledge Base

Blackboard Learn: How to create assignments in SafeAssign

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 review assignment submissions for originality and create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase.

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:

  • 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 1990 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-institution plagiarism.

Use SafeAssign in your assignments

You can use SafeAssign originality checking for any of your assignments.

  1. On the Create Assignment page, expand Submission Details.
  2. Select Check submissions for plagiarism using SafeAssign.
  3. Optionally, select one or both options:
    1. Allow students to view the SafeAssign originality reports on their submissions.
    2. Exclude all student submissions for this assignment from the institutional or global reference databases.
  4. Complete the Create Assignment page.
  5. Select Submit.

When you create a SafeAssignment, a grade column is automatically created in the Grade Center. When a SafeAssignment is ready for grading, the needs grading icon appears in the Grade Center cell. Grade SafeAssignments from the Grade Center or access them from the Needs Grading page.


Watch a video about using SafeAssign

This video explains how to use SafeAssign in assignments.


About the exclude submissions option

The SafeAssign settings have an option to "exclude submissions” when creating the Learn Assignment. This option allows instructors to create Learn Assignments that do not include any student submissions in the Institutional or Global Reference Databases. Like other options on Learn Assignments, this option will be point-in-time and editable after assignment creation. If the option were changed at a later date, new submissions would honor the new state of the setting. An example use case:

An instructor would like a single Learn Assignment to allow non-final submissions, then a single "final" submission, and only the final submission should be included by SafeAssign in the Institutional database for reference against later submissions.

You can accomplish this use case by taking the following steps:

  1. Create a Learn Assignment with multiple attempts, SafeAssign, and the "exclude submissions" option enabled
  2. Students submit their "draft" works, and submissions are not included in the Institutional or Global Databases
  3. When the final submission is expected, the instructor disables the "exclude submissions" option
  4. Students submit their final works, and submissions are then included in the Institutional or Global Databases

Supported files

SafeAssign only supports file types that are convertible to plain text. This includes the following file types: DOCX, DOC, PPT, PPTX, PDF, TXT, ODT, RTF, HTML, and HTM. Spreadsheet files are not 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.

​SafeAssign originality reports

After a paper 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. You can delete matching sources from the report and process it again. This is useful 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.

Global reference database

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. 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 does not claim ownership of submitted papers.

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