SafeAssign FAQ

How can SafeAssign be used? SafeAssign can be used in two ways:

  • Faculty Members can set up SafeAssignments in their courses on Blackboard and let students submit papers to complete these assignments, in a way very similar to the Assignment tool provided by Blackboard Learning System. The papers will then be delivered to Faculty Members through the Blackboard Learning System together with the SafeAssign Originality Reports, which details the results of the matching process.
  • Faculty Members may upload papers directly, without student involvement through the Direct Submit feature.

What information does SafeAssign provide in its reports?

A SafeAssign Originality Report highlights any blocks of text in submitted documents that match reference sources, and links back to the matching documents on the Internet or in supported content databases. SafeAssign reports also show similarity ratings for each matching sentence and allow Faculty Members to view a line-by-line comparison of potentially unoriginal text from submitted papers and the matching external documents.

Can students view reports?

If instructors enable student viewing, each student can view the reports for their own submitted papers.

What databases does SafeAssign check?:

  • Internet – comprehensive index of billions of documents available for public access on the Internet;
  • ProQuest ABI/Inform database with over 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from ’90s to present time, updated weekly (exclusive access);
  • Institutional document archives containing all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institutions;
  • Global Reference Database containing papers that were volunteered by students from Blackboard client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism.

What is the Institutional Database?

The Institutional Database is the archive of papers submitted by students in your institution. Each institution’s Institutional Database is stored in the central SafeAssign service and kept separate from other institution’s databases. Papers are automatically added to this database upon submission and are stored in the central service to be checked against other papers submitted from your institution. The Institutional Database is completely separate from the Global Reference Database which extends across institutions and students must volunteer their papers to.

Will the tool be offered in multiple languages?

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.

Who owns the intellectual property rights for each submitted paper?

Blackboard does not claim any ownership rights on the content submitted to SafeAssign.

How long does it take to generate plagiarism reports?

Reports are not generated instantaneously – it usually takes from several seconds to few minutes to receive a report.

What file formats does SafeAssign support?

SafeAssign supports Word (.doc or .docx), plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), .pdf, and .html formats. In addition, supported file types can be compressed to a .zip file for Direct Submit.

What if a student decides to remove a paper from the Global Reference Database?

Students submit their papers to the database voluntarily and agree not to remove papers in the future.

Can students directly submit a draft assignment to check without having it deployed as a SafeAssignment via the instructor or having it be tied to the Grade Center in Blackboard?

There is the option to make an assignment a draft. In this case, the paper is not checked into the institutional database.

How can I download all of the SafeAssign submissions at once?

It is possible to download all of the files that the students submitted to a SafeAssignment. This does not include the originality reports. Those must be viewed within Blackboard directly.

To download all of the submitted files:

From the course with the SafeAssignment, open Course Tools in the Control Panel

Click SafeAssign

On the next page, choose SafeAssignments

Move your mouse cursor over the SafeAssignment you are interested in. When the Action Link appears, click it and choose View Submissions from the menu

Click the Download All Submissions button at the top of the page

Your browser will download a .zip folder that has all of the submissions. You can open the folder or extract the files to read the individual submissions.

Viewing SafeAssign Assessment Reports

After a paper has been processed, an assessment report will be available that will show the percentage of text in the submitted paper that matches existing sources. It also shows the suspected sources of each section of the submitted paper that returns a match. The faculty can then delete matching sources from the report and process it again. This procedure is useful to ascertain if the paper is a continuation of a previously submitted work by the same student.

Because the SafeAssign feature identifies all matching blocks of text, it is important that the faculty reads the report carefully and determines whether or not the block of text in question is properly attributed.

View a sample SafeAssign Report

Interpreting SafeAssign Scores

The sentence matching scores represent the percentage probability that two phrases have the same meaning. This number can also be interpreted as 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 and a 10 percent probability that they are similar by chance and not because the submitted paper includes content from the existing source (whether or not it is appropriately attributed).

The overall score is an indicator of what percentage of the submitted paper matches existing sources. Please note that this score is a warning indicator only and it is the faculty’s responsibility to review the papers carefully to see if the matches are properly attributed.

  • Scores below 15 percent: These papers typical 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 the possibility of plagiarism in these papers.
  • Scores between 15 percent and 40 percent: These papers include extensive quoted or paraphrased material or they may include plagiarism. These papers should be reviewed to determine if the matching content is properly attributed.
  • Scores over 40 percent: There is a very high probability that text in this paper was copied from other sources. These papers include quoted or paraphrased text in excess and should be reviewed for plagiarism.

How does a SafeAssignment compare to other Blackboard assignments?

The SafeAssignment tool and the Assignment tool are completely separate. Both tools enable you to distribute work to individual students, but there are some key differences in the features available in each.

SafeAssignments Regular Assignments
Grade Center Integration check mark check mark
Due Dates check mark check mark
SafeAssign Report check mark
Attach Files (Instructor) check mark
Multiple Attempts check mark
Anonymous Grading check mark
Inline Grading check mark
Assign to Groups check mark
Rubrics check mark


How to Create a SafeAssignment

  1. In a content area, point to Assessments on the action bar and select SafeAssignment.
  2. On the Add SafeAssignment page, complete the page using the this table as a guide.
    Field Description
    Title Type a title for the SafeAssignment.
    Points Possible Type the points possible for the SafeAssignment. This value is shared with the Grade Center column created for the SafeAssignment.
    Text Type instructions for completing the SafeAssignment.
    Available Select whether the SafeAssignment is visible to students.
    Availability Dates Use these controls to set the date range when students can interact with the SafeAssignment. You can set only a start date or only an end date.
    Drafts Allows students to validate their paper without submitting it to the institutional database. This is useful as an instructive tool to help students learn how to attribute papers properly. You have access to see draft submissions.
    Students Viewable Determines whether or not students are allowed see the report generated when their papers are submitted.
    Urgent Checking Sets papers to a high priority in the queue.
    Optional Announcement
    Create Select Yes to create an announcement about the SafeAssignment.
    Subject Type a subject for the announcement.
    Message Type a message for the announcement.
  3. Submit.