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SafeAssign FAQ


Below you will find some commonly asked questions about safe assign and our answers to them.

Q: What is SafeAssign?

A: “SafeAssign is a plagiarism prevention service, offered by Blackboard. This service helps educators prevent plagiarism by detecting unoriginal content in student papers. In addition to acting as a plagiarism deterrent, it also has features designed to aid in educating students about plagiarism and the importance of proper attribution of any borrowed content.”

Q: What is the Difference between Assignments and SafeAssignments?

A: The main difference between the standard Assignments tool and SafeAssignments feature is that SafeAssign is a Plagiarism Prevention system.

  • Assignments: Assignments are integrated with the Grade Center for ease of grading and sending feedback to students. Students attach and send files, such as term papers for example, to their instructors. In the Grade Center, instructors view student submissions, send comments individually to students about their assignments, and attach files, if necessary. Also, Assignments have these capabilities that SafeAssignments do not have:
    • You can allow students multiple attempts on an individual assignment.
    • In the Grade Center, you can give a student an additional attempt at an assignment to accommodate extenuating circumstances. o Students have access to a submission field in addition to attachments to provide text and links to online documents and websites.
    • The Submission History provides a quick recap of the submission content, feedback, comments, grades and participants of each submission. This allows students to see what they have completed and allows instructors to view the progress made throughout the life cycle of the assignment.
    • You can assign the assignment to groups so that a set of students can work together on one deliverable. If a group completes an assignment, you can grade one student’s submission and submit the same grade to all students within the group. Or you can award each student an individual grade, thus overriding the group grade.
  • SafeAssignments: SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of academic papers to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works. SafeAssign can be used to help 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.

Q: How does SafeAssign work?

A: An assignment must be set up as a SafeAssignment by the instructor. SafeAssignments are different from regular Assignments.

  • The Assignment can be set up as a Draft. The Draft SafeAssignment sends papers to the Internet and the ProQuest ABI/Inform database.
  • Or a SafeAssignment may be set up by the instructor that sends papers directly to the Boise State University Institutional Database.
  • After an assignment is set up by the instructor, students then have to submit their paper in the designated content area of the course. Finally, after submitting a paper, the SafeAssign report is generated.

Q: Can I view my SafeAssign report?

A: Instructors must enable the option when they set up the SafeAssignment to make it student viewable. To view your report, return back the “View\Complete” link in the assignment. On the report page, clicking on the green checkmark\paper icon will open the SA Report.

Q: Do I have to put my name on individual or group assignments submitted to SafeAssign?

A: If you have privacy concerns about putting your name on your SafeAssign submissions, please speak to your instructor about arranging a pseudonym for use with SafeAssign.

Q: What happens if I forget to remove my name from inside my paper?

A: Then you are consenting to release your personal identification to SafeAssign. Papers cannot be removed from the databases.

Q: Can instructors submit my paper to SafeAssign without my knowledge?

A:  Yes, if an instructor suspects plagiarism, they can submit your paper.

Q: I am having technical trouble submitting my paper to the SafeAssignment, who can help me?

A: Try submitting using the FireFox browser.  If that does not work, please visit the Blackboard student help page at or contact the Help Desk (Zone at the ILC):

Q: Can I opt out of submitting my paper in SafeAssign?

A: No, as long as the requirement to submit a paper to SafeAssign is outlined in the syllabus, or made clear to the student in some other, written manner, the instructor may require the student to submit the paper sans identifying information.

Q: How long do I have to wait to get a SafeAssign report?

A: It may take several minutes to several hours, depending on the amount of papers submitted and traffic on the server.

Q: What databases are used for plagiarism checking?

A: Depending on how the assignment is set up, the databases are different.

  • If a paper is set up as a Draft, the paper is checked against two databases:
    • Internet
    • ProQuest ABI/Inform database with over 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from ’90s to present time, updated weekly
  • If a paper is set up with the Draft option unchecked, then the paper gets sent to the Wilmington University’s Institutional database which contains all papers submitted by others from this institution.
  • Global Reference Database – papers sent to this database are checked across several institutions.

Q: Do I have to check the box to submit to the Global Reference Database?

A: No, this is entirely optional. A student does NOT have to select the box to submit to the Global Reference Database.

Q: Can I submit a PowerPoint file in SafeAssignments?

A: No, the only file formats supported are Word (DOC and DOCX), Plain text (TXT), Rich text format (RTF), Open Document (ODT), Portable Document Format (PDF), and HTML formats.

Q: How do I interpret the SafeAssign report?

A: Each report will have a match percentage of text that is found matching against the databases. Each report should be carefully checked to determine if the matches are properly cited. If proper attribution and citations are present, then the paper is not plagiarized. SafeAssign may include correctly cited quotations and information in the report. SafeAssign is not absolute; papers must be checked by the instructor and student to determine if rewriting or proper attribution of text is required.

Q: How does this pertain to FERPA?

A: If you have privacy concerns about putting your name on your SafeAssign submissions, please speak to your instructor about arranging a pseudonym for use with SafeAssign.

Q. Is SafeAssign ever wrong? Will it falsely accuse me of plagiarism?

A. No. SafeAssign does not state whether a paper is plagiarized or not. It only identifies content in a paper that matches content from another source. It is initially up to the student but ultimately the instructor and then the academic department to determine if plagiarism has occurred (e.g., to make sure quotations are properly quoted and cited).

Q. Can I see the SafeAssign report for my paper?

A. If your instructor did not set up the SafeAssignment to allow student viewing, you can ask him or her to show you the SafeAssign report for your paper. Instructors may also directly submit papers or passages for checking; they do not need to come from a SafeAssignment.

Q. Once I submit a SafeAssignment, how do I see the report?

A. From the SafeAssignment you uploaded your file to, click the View/Complete link: Please note that it can take several minutes, or even hours, for SafeAssign to generate the report.

Q. Can students and other instructors search for my papers in the institutional database?

A. No. Students will never see a copy of your work. Students who submitted a paper that matched another student’s paper would see only “direct quote from whatever SA shows” on the report. Boise State University instructors can view papers from students who are in their class. Instructors cannot search the SafeAssign databases.

Q. Are student names or personal information visible?

A. Student names are only visible to instructors in the course site in which the papers were submitted. Student names are not visible to other students on their SafeAssign reports.

Q. How long are student papers retained in the institutional database?

A. Because SafeAssign is relatively new at Boise State University we have not yet defined retention limits for papers in the institutional database. Draft SafeAssignments are not submitted to the institutional database.

Q. Is it a violation of my intellectual property to retain my work in a database for comparison against other student work?

A. No. The author of a work owns the copyright/intellectual property for that work no matter where it resides. Neither Blackboard nor Boise State University claims any ownership rights on the content submitted to SafeAssign. The use of the student’s work by SafeAssign is considered “fair use” under copyright law.

Q. Does this application work with content in a foreign language?

A. SafeAssign can generate originality reports for papers written in all alphabet-based languages with left-to-right writing. The user interface is currently only available in English.

Q. What can I do if my instructor suspects plagiarism in my work?

A. If an instructor raises a claim of academic dishonesty, you have 15 days to appeal the claim. You also have the support of the Office of Student Conduct to file the appeal and address the concern. You will meet with your instructor and have a chance to explain the circumstances that raised the question of plagiarism as part of the student conduct process (which includes an appeal after the initial hearing) as set forth in the OAR – details below. Academic Dishonesty cases are handled initially by the academic units, following the process outlined in the University’s Academic Dishonesty Report Form, and will also be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Affairs for action under these rules, per OAR 576- 015-0020 et seq

Q. Where can I get more information about SafeAssign, citing sources, effective paraphrasing, and avoiding plagiarism?

A. The Library has resources for students here: Students are also invited to review the training material for instructors on plagiarism prevention and SafeAssign:

For Assistance

Help Desk (Zone at the ILC):