Information Technology

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention - SafeAssign


What is SafeAssign?

SafeAssign is an anti-plagiarism tool integrated with Blackboard. It allows an instructor to set up a SafeAssignment within Blackboard where students can post their work. Once the assignment is submitted the program uses a text matching algorithm to compare the student’s submitted work to several online database sources. The program creates an originality report that is viewable by the instructor and students if the option is selected. Optionally, an instructor can allow students to use SafeAssign as an "originality checker" as one of many efforts to educate students about plagiarism.

SafeAssign compares submitted works against:

  •     Internet sources (powered by Windows Live search
  •     ProQuest ABI/Inform database of over 2.5 million articles
  •     SafeAssign Institutional Database Used at UMass Boston only
  •     SafeAssign Global Reference Database Students voluntarily submit papers, Used across institutions

What do I need to use SafeAssign?

SafeAssign is available for use only within Blackboard. To use SafeAssign you need:

  •     A Blackboard Account
  •     A Blackboard Course Section
  •     Use of the SafeAssignment plug-in as opposed to the assignment tool in Blackboard

How to use SafeAssign

For Faculty

For Students

Getting Help with SafeAssign

Questions about SafeAssign may be directed to the Learning Management Systems Group at

Technical Issues with SafeAssign

Instructor issue: Editing a SafeAssignment

Problem: An error occurs when an instructor edits an existing SafeAssignment.
Solution: When making changes to an existing SafeAssignment you must edit the title field in addition to any other changes you would like to make to the assignment. The change can be as simple as adding an additional character or number to the title field. For example, a SafeAssignment titled "300 Word Essay on Effects of Global Climate Change" could be changed to "300 Word Essay - Effects of Global Climate Change." When you have made the necessary edits, click Save.

Student issue: Not logged in error

Problem: A student receives the following error when posting an assignment, "Sorry, we do not think you are logged in to SafeAssign. Your session may have timed out. If you have received this message in error, please contact your system administrator."
Solution: Check your browser to be sure it is configured to accept third party cookies.

The problem has mostly been with Firefox and Safari on the Mac. For Mozilla Firefox, you’ll need to check the box that allows third-party cookies. Select Preferences from the Firefox menu and click the Privacy tab. Next place a check beside "Accept third party cookies" and "Accept third party cookies." For Safari, open the Safari menu, select Preferences, click the Security tab and select the radio button beside “Always” under Accept Cookies.

The next troubleshooting step is to clear out the cookies from your browser, clear temporary internet files, and the java temporary files. 

See Blackboard Vista Requirements and Settings 8.0.4 for more information.

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