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Looking for the latest release notes? View release notes for SafeAssign.

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.

Read frequently asked questions about SafeAssign

More on how students use SafeAssign

More on how instructors use SafeAssign

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 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.
  • Internet: SafeAssign searches across the broader internet for matching text using an internal search service.

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.

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 Blackboard Learn 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.

SafeAssign Originality Reports

After a paper submission is processed, SafeAssign generates a report detailing the percentage of text in the paper that matches existing sources. The report also shows the suspected sources that return a match for each section of the submitted paper. 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.

SafeAssign language support

SafeAssign does more than translate words from one language to another. SafeAssign uses algorithms that make decisions about potential plagiarism based on word frequency, sentence structure, and other linguistic characteristics that are specific to English.

Although SafeAssign officially supports only English, clients are welcome to attempt to use SafeAssign with languages other than English. SafeAssign has no technical limitations that preclude using it with other languages, but the results may vary and are not guaranteed.

As an alternative, Blackboard has a partnership with another plagiarism vendor, TurnItIn. TurnItIn integrates with Blackboard Learn and is available for international clients or anyone who needs support for languages other than English. To learn more, see

Configure and register SafeAssign

  1. Go to Administrator Panel > Building Blocks > Installed Tools.
  2. Locate the SafeAssign Building Block. In its menu, select Settings.
  3. Provide the following information:
    • Institution name
    • Local server URL: The local server URL validates the registering system and prevents 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
  4. Select a Time Zone. This ensures that the time displayed within the SafeAssign Building Block matches that of the Blackboard Learn server.
  5. Select Show Student ID to allow instructors to view the student IDs in the table that lists submitted papers. Instructors only see the student's name if this option isn't selected.
  6. Enter the Institution Release Statement text that appears in every assignment using SafeAssign. The message alerts students that their work is being checked for plagiarism. Leave the text box blank if you don't want to provide a warning.
  7. Select Global Reference Database Activity to submit assignments using SafeAssign to the Global Reference Database and to allow analysis of papers submitted from other institutions. If not selected, this access is restricted.
  8. Select I accept to acknowledge the SafeAssign License Agreement.
  9. Select Submit.
  10. 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, you receive a join code 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.

Enable SafeAssign in Blackboard Learn

  1. Got to Administrator Panel > Building Blocks > Installed Tools.
  2. Locate the SafeAssign Building Block.
  3. In its menu, select Set Available.

Add SafeAssign to courses

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

Grade Center integration

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

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

SafeAssign enables institutions to connect with 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.