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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.

What type of user are you?

How SafeAssign Works

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 different sources, including:

  • 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 1990s to present time, updated weekly.
  • Internet: SafeAssign searches across the broader internet for matching text using an internal search engine.

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 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 are not required to submit papers to this 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 plagiarism prevention. 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 may not 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. As detailed further below, 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 has been 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.

It is important to read the report carefully and investigate whether each block of text is properly attributed.

Interpreting SafeAssign Scores

Sentence matching scores represent the percentage probability that two phrases have the same meaning. This number reflects the reciprocal to the probability that these two phrases are similar by chance. For example, a score of 90 percent means that there is a 90 percent probability that these two phrases are the same. There is a 10 percent probability that they are similar by chance and not because the submitted paper includes content from the existing source (whether appropriately attributed or not).

The overall SafeAssign score indicates the probablility that the submitted paper contains matches to existing sources. This score is a warning indicator only. Review papers to see if the matches are properly attributed.

  • Scores below 15 percent: These papers typically include some quotes and few common phrases or blocks of text that match other documents. These papers typically do not require further analysis, as there is no evidence of plagiarism.
  • Scores between 15 percent and 40 percent: These papers include extensive quoted or paraphrased material or they include plagiarism. Review these papers to determine if the matching content is properly attributed.
  • Scores over 40 percent: There is a very high probability that text in these papers was copied from other sources. These papers include quoted or paraphrased text in excess and need to be reviewed for plagiarism.

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:
Port: 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. From the Administrator Panel, click Building Blocks.
  2. Click Installed Tools.
  3. Locate the SafeAssign Building Block.
  4. Click Settings for the SafeAssign Building Block.
  5. Enter 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 SafeAssignment 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 SafeAssignments 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. From the Administrator Panel, 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. From the Administrator Panel, under Courses, click Course Settings.
  2. Click Course Tools.
  3. Filter by Building Blocks Tools.
  4. Locate SafeAssign in the list and select On. SafeAssign is not available to guests or observers.
  5. Click Submit.