Similarity Check Service

Prevent sloppy referencing or plagiarism

Research SupportSimilarity Check

Similarity Check Service

Whether you want to authenticate your own writing, that by your co-author, or by your PhD-student, our Similarity Check Service is the tool for you. Do not use this service for educational purposes!

Maastricht University endorses the principles of professional, scientific conduct as expressed in the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Integrity. Adhering to those principles also includes preventing sloppy referencing or plagiarism. Therefore, services to check for the similarity between documents are provided for research and educational purposes.

The University Library’s Similarity Check Service can help you to prevent sloppy referencing or plagiarism in any document that you are about to submit for publication. Every UM-affiliated researcher can use this service. The service utilizes iThenticate provided by TurnItIn to compare your submitted work to millions of articles and other published works and billions of webpages.

Not for educational purposes

Students can’t make use of the Similarity Check Service, and this service is not intended for educational purposes (e.g., checking of master’s theses for plagiarism). Please use Urkund instead (available through the digital learning environment Canvas). Urkund is tailored to the specific requirements for educational purposes.

The maximum number of submissions available for these services is adapted to their respective purposes.

Support & Contact

In case you are in doubt about which similarity check service to use for a particular purpose, please contact us so we can find a suitable solution for you while guaranteeing the sustainable availability of the services for all UM scholars.


Plagiarism and how to prevent it

Plagiarism is using someone else’s work or findings without stating the source and thereby implying that the work is your own.

In the process of using relevant scientific information as previously established ideas and values with which you add pertinent information in a research paper, every researcher should be cautious not to fall into the trap of sloppy referencing or even plagiarism.

Plagiarism is not just confined to papers, articles or books, it can take many forms (for more information, see this infographic by iThenticate).

The Similarity Check Service can help you to prevent only one type of plagiarism: verbatim plagiarism, and only if the source is part of the corpus.

The software does not automatically detect plagiarism; it provides insight into the amount of similarity in the text between the uploaded document and other sources in the corpus of the software. This does not mean this part of the text is viewed as plagiarism in your specific field. For instance, the methods section in some subfields follows very common wording, which could lead to a match. If there are instances where the submission’s content is similar to the content in the database, it will be flagged for review and should be evaluated by you.

How to use the service

Getting started

1. Login

Go to iThenticate and enter your UM username and password in the appropriate fields. Select ‘login’.

Library Access - login

2. First-time user

As a first-time user, you will then have to check your personal information and declare that you agree to the Terms and conditions.

3. My Folders and My Documents iThenticate

iThenticate will provide you with a folder group My Folders and a folder within that group titled My Documents.

From the My Documents folder, you will be able to submit a document by selecting the Submit a document link.

4. Upload a file

On the Upload a file page, enter the authorship details and the document title. Select Choose File and locate the file on your device.

Select the Add another file link to add another file. You can add up to ten files before submitting. Select Upload to upload the document(s).

5. Similarity Report

To view the Similarity Report for the paper, select the similarity score in the Report column. It usually takes a couple of minutes for a report to generate.

Finding your way around

The main navigation bar at the top of the screen has three tabs. Upon logging in, you will automatically land on the folders page.


This is the main area of iThenticate. From the folders page, you will be able to upload, manage and view documents.


The settings page contains configuration options for the iThenticate interface.

Account Info

The account information page contains the user profile and account usage.

Options for exclusion

There can be various reasons why you may want to exclude certain sources that your document is compared to or certain parts of your document in the similarity check. You can specify options for exclusion in the Folder settings.

If you choose to exclude ‘small matches’, you will be asked to specify the minimum number of words that you want to be shown as a match.

If you choose to exclude ‘small sources’, you will be asked to specify a minimum number of words or a minimum match percentage.

Once you click Update Settings, the settings will be applied to the particular folder.

Manuals & training videos

iThenticate provides a scale of up-to-date manuals and instructions on their own website. Please consult them here

You can also use these training videos to learn how to use the service.

Please be aware that information in these manuals and videos about logging in and account settings are not applicable to UM users of this service.

How to read the similarity report

The similarity report provides the percentage of similarity between the submitted document and content in the iThenticate database. This is the type of report that you will use most often for a similarity check.

It is perfectly natural for a submitted document to match against sources in the database. If you have used quotes and you have referenced correctly in the submitted document, there will be instances where there will be a match.

The similarity score simply makes you aware of any problem areas in the submitted document. These areas should then be reviewed to make sure there is no sloppy referencing or plagiarism.

iThenticate should be used as part of a larger process, in order to determine if a match between your submitted document and content in the database is or is not acceptable.


This video shows how to read the various reports


This video shows how the Document viewer works  


Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Everyone involved in teaching and research at Maastricht University shares in the responsibility for maintaining academic integrity (see Scientific Integrity). All academic staff at UM are expected to adhere to the general principles of professional academic practice at all times.

Adhering to those principles also includes preventing sloppy referencing or plagiarism in your publications.

Additional information on how to avoid plagiarism can be also be found in the Copyright portal of the library. 

Sources used

iThenticate compares the submitted work to 60 million scholarly articles, books, and conferences proceedings from 115,000 scientific, technical, and medical journals, 114 million Published works from journals, periodicals, magazines, encyclopedias, and abstracts, 68 billion current and archived web pages.

Checking PhD theses

According to article 11.4 of the regulations for obtaining a PhD at Maastricht University (see UM website) the PhD supervisor shall ensure that the thesis is checked for plagiarism before it is presented to the Assessment Committee.

The similarity check service can be used for that check. We kindly request you to submit the whole thesis as one document (i.e. not per chapter) to prevent unnecessary draws on the maximum number of submissions.

Similarity Check

For research purposes only!


Page information


Feedback & Support

Please use the web form to contact Mariëlle or Maarten with questions and feedback about our Similarity Check Service.

Questions, Feedback & Support
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