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SafeAssign is a tool used to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool.

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

SafeAssign in Action

SafeAssign is based on a unique text-matching algorithm capable of detecting exact and inexact matching between a submitted paper and source material. This proprietary algorithm analyzes submission text and optimizes the words and terms to be searched against multiple data sources. Results returned from each service are further processed based on both the weight returned by the search service and comparative weighting by the SafeAssign algorithm, which determines the result set to be returned in the originality report.

Student submissions to SafeAssign are compared against several sources:

  • Institutional document archives: Contains all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institutions.
  • Global Reference Database: Contains over 15 million papers volunteered by students from Blackboard client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism.
  • ProQuest ABI/Inform database: More than 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from the 1990s to present time, updated weekly.
  • Internet: SafeAssign searches across the broader internet for matching text using the Yahoo! BOSS search service as the underlying internet index provider.
Created with Yahoo Boss

Global Reference Database

The SafeAssign Global Reference Database is a separate database where students voluntarily submit copies of their papers to help prevent plagiarism. It is separate 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 are not required to submit papers to this database. They submit their papers voluntarily and agree not to delete papers in the future. Blackboard does not claim ownership of submitted papers.

Internet Search

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 cannot be refreshed as frequently as those utilized 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. SafeAssign is intended for use as a tool to help educators efficiently identify the potential presence of unoriginal work within a submission. A SafeAssign score is a warning indicator that a submission may require additional review. It is not a guarantee that plagiarism has, or has not, occurred.

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 also shows the suspected sources of each section of the submitted paper that returns a match. Instructors 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.

This content is applicable to Learn 9.1 SP 14 and earlier only.

Grade Center Integration

SafeAssignments are created with associated Grade Center items. The score is then recorded in the Grade Center.

SafeAssign enables institutions to link in to a Global Reference Database of academic content. The Global Reference Database allows institutions to search their own data repository as well as many other data repositories. Access to the database is enabled by default. To connect to the Global Reference Database, ensure that the Blackboard Application servers are allowed to access the following host and ports.

These ports are for outgoing HTTP traffic only. SafeAssign never communicates back to your Blackboard system through these IPs.

Blackboard Learn
IP Address:
Ports:  TCP 80 and 443

Allow incoming traffic on all established connections for Learn by allowing a connection with a flag other than SYNC on any port from the following IP Address: SafeAssign makes web service calls to your Blackboard system from this IP.

How to Configure and Register SafeAssign

  1. On the Administrator Panel in the Building Blocks section, click Building Blocks.
  2. Click Installed Tools.
  3. Locate the SafeAssign Building Block.
  4. Click Settings for the SafeAssign Building Block.
  5. Provide the following information:
    • Institution Name

      Local Server URL
      The Local Server URL is for the purpose of validating the registering system and to prevent spoofing and hacking into the central service database.

    • Contact First Name of the SafeAssign administrator
    • Contact Last Name of the SafeAssign administrator
    • Contact Email address of the SafeAssign administrator
    • Contact Job Title of the SafeAssign administrator
  6. Select a Time Zone. This ensures that the time displayed within the SafeAssign Building Block matches that of the Blackboard Learn server.
  7. Select Show Student ID to allow instructors to view the student IDs in the table that lists submitted papers. If not selected, instructors see only the student's name.
  8. Enter the Institution Release Statement text that appears in every assignment using SafeAssign on the system alerting students that their work is being checked for plagiarism. Leave the text box blank if not providing a warning.
  9. Select Global Reference Database Activity to submit assignments using SafeAssign to the Global Reference Database and allow analysis of papers submitted from other institutions. If not selected, this access is restricted.
  10. Select I accept to accept the SafeAssign License Agreement.
  11. Click Submit.
  12. Click Settings for SafeAssign to open the Settings page again. If the connection is successful, the message Connection Status: Established appears at the top of the page.

After successfully connecting to SafeAssign, a join code is provided in the receipt. This join code is used to identify your institution and its associated submission data. The join code is also used in troubleshooting and when migrating servers.

How to Enable SafeAssign in Blackboard Learn

  1. On the Administrator Panel in the Building Blocks section, click Building Blocks.
  2. Click Installed Tools.
  3. Locate the SafeAssign Building Block.
  4. Select Available in the Availability column and in the Course/Org default column.

How to Enable SafeAssign in Courses

  1. On the Administrator Panel in the Courses section, click Course Settings.
  2. Click Course Tools.
  3. Locate SafeAssign in the list and select On. SafeAssign is not available to guests or observers.
  4. Click Submit.

SafeAssign searches across the broader internet for matching text using the Yahoo! BOSS search service as the underlying internet index provider.

Created with Yahoo Boss