Center for Technology Enhanced Learning

Blackboard SafeAssign

Download Instructions

Using SafeAssign with Blackboard 9 
Safe Assignments can deter plagiarism by creating opportunities to educate students on proper citation and attribution, while providing a powerful tool to detect blatant plagiarism in student papers.

How Does SafeAssign Work? 
Using unique text-matching algorithms capable of detecting exact and inexact matching, Safe Assignments are compared against the following sources:

  1. The Internet 
  2. Proquest/ABI Inform, a database with over 1,100 publication titles and over 2.6 million articles, updated weekly 
  3. Institutional database, containing all papers submitted by students in the University of Maine System 
  4. Global Reference Database, to which students can voluntarily submit their papers

What Does SafeAssign Tell Me? 
Once a paper is submitted and processed by SafeAssign, a report is provided that details the percentage of the paper that matches existing original sources. It also provides links to the sources that returned the matching text. Because of the nature of the report, it is imperative to read and interpret each SafeAssign report carefully. The report, in and of itself, does not prove plagiarism occurred. SafeAssign provides a sentence-matching score displayed as a percentage. This score is an indicator of what percentage of the submitted paper matches existing works, and should be treated only as a warning. 
Make Sure SafeAssign is “ON” 
You will need to do this in each course in which you want to use SafeAssign.

  1. Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability and check the box to make SafeAssign Available.
  2. Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability and check the box to make SafeAssignment Available in a Content Area.
Instructors: Add a Safe Assignment to Your Course

Creating the Safe Assignment sets up a link that students use to submit their work in a content area and a column in the Grade Center. The main difference is that the Safe Assignment is checked for plagiarism. 
NOTE: SafeAssign accepts files in Microsoft Word (doc and docx)/ OpenOffice (odt)/ TXT / RTF / HTML / PDF formats only. Please DO NOT upload files in any other formats, including JPEG / ZIP. Files must be less than 10 MB.

  1. Select a content area into which you will add a SafeAssignment.
  2. Select SafeAssignment from the drop-down Assessment menu.
  3. Provide a name for the assignment. If the assignment is a draft, indicate that in the assignment name (e.g. Paper One: Draft). Keep in mind that you will have to create a separate SafeAssignment for the final submission (e.g. Paper One: Final Submission).
  4. Enter the points possible for the assignment.
  5. Provide instructions for the assignment.
  6. Select the availability option. Selecting "yes" provides student access to the assignment.
  7. Set assignment availability dates. You may wish to set some assignment restrictions here.
  8. Select the appropriate draft settings for the assignment. Setting the assignment in draft mode allows students to validate their papers without submitting them to the institutional database. As a result, final papers will not be compared to submitted drafts, which will result in more accurate SafeAssign reports.
  9. Set Urgent Checking to "no".
  10. Choose whether or not you want students to have access to the SafeAssign report.
  11. Create an Optional Announcement if you wish.
  12. Click Submit.
  13. A column for your SafeAssignment will automatically be created in the course Grade Center.
  14. A piece of text will be added to your assignment with the legal release statement:

I understand that my instructor has elected to have this assignment checked against several databases for original content. Furthermore, I understand that SafeAssign will create an originality report for my instructor which shows how my paper compares against documents available on the Internet, in many print journals, as well as a database of other papers submitted by University of Maine System students. I understand that my paper will be added to this institutional database for comparison of future papers against my work. 
I also understand that if I select 'Upload to Global Database' below, I am agreeing that papers from students at other universities using SafeAssign can be compared against my work. I understand that once I grant the right for this paper to be added to the SafeAssign Global Database that I may not retract that right. I maintain ownership of the original intellectual property created, but this document must remain a part of the SafeAssign Global Database. I understand that submitting my paper to the Global Database is completely voluntary.

Submitting Papers Via Direct Submit

Submitting Papers Via Direct Submit allows you to generate SafeAssign reports on papers submitted outside of a Safe Assignment. 

PLEASE NOTE: Papers uploaded through DirectSubmit are only added to the Institutional Database there is no option to add them to the Global Reference Database since students have to opt-in on a paper-by-paper basis. Additionally, there is no Grade Center integration with papers submitted through Direct Submit. So because Direct Submit does not offer access to the Global Reference Database or integration with Grade Center, faculty members should set up and use SafeAssignments to collect submissions whenever possible.  

To submit papers with DirectSubmit, select SafeAssign from the Course Tools menu in the Control Panel and click DirectSubmit. 
Direct Submit allows faculty members to submit papers one at a time or several at once by including them in a .ZIP file. PLEASE NOTE: .ZIP packages should contain no more than 100 papers and submitting more than 300 papers in a session is not recommended. Additionally, papers with over 5000 sentences or that are more than 10 MB in size cannot be submitted.

Accessing SafeAssign Reports

Student submissions and associated SafeAssign reports can be viewed in two ways:

  1. from the SafeAssign link in the Tools menu of the course Control Panel (use the drop-down menu for each assignment to select View Submissions)
  2. via the course Grade Center (click the drop-down menu for the assignment for an individual student, select View Grade Details, then click Open Attempt)
What Does the Report Screen Tell Me?

When you access the main report screen by selecting the View link, the following columns appear for each student:

  1. Text -Select this option to view the student's submission online.
  2. File -Select this option to download the student submission to your computer. Establishing logical file name conventions with students can help to identify which student submitted the file
  3. Matching -The percentage listed is the percentage of the paper that matches other sources.
  4. SA Report -Select this option to view the full SafeAssign report.
  5. Clear Attempt -Select this option to remove the submission.

Safe Assign Report 1

You will be able to quickly scan the Matching column to determine if further analysis of the SafeAssign Report is warranted. Here are some good guidelines to remember:

  1. Scores below 15% -These papers typically include some quotes and few common phrases or blocks of text that match other sources. They typically don't require further analysis, as there is little or no evidence of possible plagiarism.
  2. Scores between 15% and 40% -These papers include extensive quoted and/or paraphrased material or they may include plagiarism. They should be reviewed to determine if the matching content is properly attributed.
  3. Scores over 40% -There is a high probability that text in this paper was copied from other sources. It should be reviewed for plagiarism.

SafeAssign Reports provide very detailed and comprehensive information about the matches found between the submitted paper and other sources used by SafeAssign. The report identifies all matching blocks of text, and provides a link to each source of the match. Each SafeAssign Report is divided into three sections:

  1. Paper Information-Provides data about the paper, such as author, percent matching, and when (date, time) the paper was submitted. It also provides options for downloading the report, emailing the report, and for viewing a printable version of the report.
  2. Suspected Sources -Lists the sources that contain text that matches the text found in the submitted paper. From this view, you may select sources to exclude them from the review. This can be helpful if a source is a previous work from the same student for the same class, or if there is a reason for lengthy sections of a particular source to appear in the paper.
  3. Paper Text -Shows the submitted paper. All matching blocks of text are identified. Clicking a matching block of text displays information about the original source and the probability that the text was copied from the source.

Safe Assign Report

Frequently Asked Questions

"Sorry, we do not think you are logged in to SafeAssign. Your session may have timed out. If you have received this message in error, please contact your system administrator. "

If you get this error and you are logged into Blackboard, it means that the security/privacy settings on your web browser are set up to not allow 3rd party cookies.  You'll need to change this setting to allow 3rd party cookies by following these steps:

For Internet Explorer:
Click on Tools > Internet Options > Privacy
Change the setting to "Low"

For Firefox:
Click on Tools > Options > Privacy
Select "Accept cookies from sites"
Select "Accept third-party cookies"
Change "Keep until" to "they expire"

Click on Safari > Preferences > Security
Change "Accept cookies" setting it "Always"