Does SafeAssign Check Previously Submitted Work? 

Does SafeAssign Check Previously Submitted Work

SafeAssign is a popular plagiarism detection software used by many schools and universities. As a student, you may wonder, ‘Does SafeAssign check previously submitted work?’

The short answer is yes. SafeAssign checks student papers against its databases that contain previously submitted assignments. However, there are some steps in how this works. This article provides a comprehensive understanding of what SafeAssign checks and how to interpret SafeAssign originality reports.

Does SafeAssign Check Previously Submitted Work?

A common question students have about SafeAssign is whether it checks previously submitted papers. SafeAssign does compare student papers to its databases containing your past submissions. There are a few key details around how this functions:

SafeAssign Databases

SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against its databases to check for plagiarism. This includes:

Global Reference Database: Contains over a billion web pages, academic publications, and previously submitted student papers. If your work matches any content in this database, it will be flagged.

Institutional Document Archives: Contains all assignments submitted to SafeAssign by students of your institution. So yes, your professor can see if you have repurposed an old paper.

The Global Reference Database is cross-institutional. However, assignments submitted to your school are only checked against other submissions from your institution.

SafeAssign Does Not Allow Multiple Submissions

You cannot submit the same paper to multiple assignments on SafeAssign. The system will recognize a repeated submission and exclude it from generating an originality report.

Instead, it will state, “This paper already exists in the Global Reference Database.” Your professor will be able to see that you attempted to submit work that you have submitted previously.

So don’t even think about recycling an old project! You need to create new original content for each assignment.

Dealing with Deleted Old Papers

You may realize after submitting that your paper contains plagiarized content or matches previous submissions too closely. Some students attempt to delete past papers so that SafeAssign cannot detect the similarity.

However, this is usually an ineffective strategy. SafeAssign states that once a paper is in their system, deleting it will not erase it from their databases. The only way to fully remove a past submission is to contact your institution’s administrators directly.

Even then, the archived version may still exist in their records. Don’t risk getting caught trying to fool plagiarism checkers!

What Files Does SafeAssign Check and Detect?

SafeAssign checks a wide variety of document formats, including:

  1. Microsoft Word Documents (.docx and .doc files)
  2. PowerPoint Presentations (.pptx and .ppt files)
  3. Portable Document Format files (.pdf files)
  4. Text documents (.txt files)
  5. Rich Text Format files (.rtf files)
  6. HyperText Markup Language files (.html and .htm files)
  7. Hangul files (.hwp files)

For file types with text content, SafeAssign can check for plagiarism by comparing strings of matching words and phrases. This includes PowerPoints, Word docs, and text files.

SafeAssign can also detect images inserted into these documents through image-matching algorithms. For PDFs, SafeAssign performs OCR (optical character recognition) to extract text and make it searchable.

What SafeAssign Blackboard Does not Detect

While comprehensive, there still are some limits in terms of what SafeAssign catches:

  1. Images: If you insert a plagiarized image without any text, SafeAssign cannot detect it. However, your professor still requires citations for all visual content used.
  2. Identical Font and Formatting: Simply copying text verbatim and changing the font or formatting will not trick SafeAssign if the wording remains unchanged. The algorithm focuses on matching strings of text rather than visual presentation.
  3. Spreadsheets: Tabulated content and raw data tables cannot be checked directly by SafeAssign. However, if you copy data into paragraphs in a Word Doc, it then can detect plagiarism.

SafeAssign checks text thoroughly but relies on human insight to determine the originality of multimedia aspects not detectable by its algorithms.

Does SafeAssign Detect PowerPoint?

Yes. SafeAssign scans the text in PowerPoint presentations to check for copied passages. It also compares images inserted into PowerPoints against its image database through image hash matching. Any matches get flagged for review.

To see the originality report, you must submit the supported file directly to SafeAssign rather than simply embedding it in a Word document.

Does SafeAssign Detect Screenshot Pictures?

Because screenshots contain pixel images rather than searchable text, SafeAssign cannot directly detect if you insert an unedited screenshot into a document.

However, many students forget that screenshots still require citations. So, your professor may ask you take the extra step of describing the source and context of screenshots even though SafeAssign does not flag them. Manual image search can also trace the origins.

In short – don’t use uncited screenshots in academic work just because you think SafeAssign won’t catch it!

Does SafeAssign detect PDFs?

Yes. SafeAssign scans text extracted from PDF files using optical character recognition (OCR) processes. The text inside PDFs gets checked against its databases to identify matching passages indicative of copying.

This makes PDF files just as vulnerable to getting flagged for plagiarism as Word documents or PowerPoints if not properly paraphrased and cited.

Does SafeAssign detect Tables and graphs?

Unfortunately, SafeAssign cannot directly detect copied data from tables, graphs, and charts on its own. However, if you copy tabulated data in its original format into a Word document, paragraph, or PowerPoint, SafeAssign will detect matching text strings.

As with screenshots, properly crediting sources is crucial even for content types like data tables that SafeAssign misses. Rely on your professor’s judgment rather than purely on SafeAssign reports when using unscannable multimedia items.

Is SafeAssign the Same as Turnitin?

While they offer similar services, SafeAssign and Turnitin are separate plagiarism checkers. The main difference lies in their availability.

Turnitin is commercial software that is available for purchase by individual faculty. In contrast, SafeAssign is integrated into the Blackboard LMS (learning management system) at the institutional level.

Your school chooses whether to enable SafeAssign globally across all courses rather than individual instructors picking Turnitin. This leads to a key second difference – the database sources utilized:

  • SafeAssign: Checks against the Global Reference Database and submissions from your institution only.
  • Turnitin: Much larger cross-institutional database with over 1.4 billion student papers submitted across 126,000 institutions.

When Should You Use SafeAssign?

Most schools set up SafeAssign so submissions get checked automatically. However, you also have the option to upload draft documents proactively to review the originality report prior to the due date.

Analyzing SafeAssign reports for drafts enables you to pinpoint any problematic passages early while you still have time to rework and improve the content. Leverage this feature so you can submit your best original writing efforts when it matters most.

If your institution gives you the choice, the ideal approach is to use SafeAssign iteratively as you build paper drafts and address any flagged sections requiring additional paraphrasing or citations.

How Do You Submit an Assignment Using SafeAssign?

Submitting to SafeAssign takes just a few clicks once an assignment link has been enabled by your instructor:

  1. Log into Blackboard and enter your course.
  2. Locate the assignment you need to submit work for and click it.
  3. Upload your document file on the page (e.g. DOCX or PDF formats work best).
  4. Double check the correct submission file, attachment type, and your name are showing.
  5. Click “Submit” for your work to process through SafeAssign before the due date.

The system provides confirmations when processed, so you know your submission was successful. Originality reports require additional time to generate results accessible to students.

What Happens if SafeAssign Finds Plagiarism?

Don’t panic if SafeAssign detects plagiarized passages or matches against previous submissions and flagged content. A high score does not automatically equate to cheating. SafeAssign operates based on algorithms rather than contextual human understanding.

Factors like false positives, missing citations for quotes, and bibliography formatting issues can incorrectly skew scores higher without ill intentions. As the author, emphasize the original components and proactively address any questionable excerpts called out in the SafeAssign report prior to your professor’s review.

Offer justifications directly in the document using tracked changes or comment boxes to explain your thought process. Demonstrating self-awareness and accountability for the flagged areas goes a long way if any high-similarity issues surface.

What are Some Alternatives to SafeAssign?

While extremely popular, SafeAssign is not the only plagiarism detection option. If enabled at your institution or preferred by individual faculty, other SafeAssign alternatives to check papers include:

  • Turnitin: Larger cross-school submissions database with paid licenses.
  • PlagScan: Free-to-use basic version or low-cost premium account tiers.
  • PlagiarismChecker: Free web-based percentage score estimates without required software.
  • Quetext: Offers a limited number of free checks monthly before paid subscriptions engage.
  • Copyleaks: Subscription-based cloud checker with flexibility across devices.

These can serve as backups if issues arise with accessing assignment submissions on SafeAssign through your school’s LMS system.

SafeAssign Originality Report

The SafeAssign originality report is the output generated after submission that indicates matches found against its comparative databases. Accessing the report gives insights into potential plagiarism risks present to enable proactive revisions before your professor’s review.

Within the originality report, you will be able to see:

Overall Similarity Score Percentage: SafeAssign calculates an overall match percentage based on the length of text segments matching external sources divided by the total submission length.

Match Overview: Visual heatmap indicating the concentration of matched content within the document to pinpoint problematic areas quickly.

Match Breakdown: List of all individual match instances that compose the similarity score, sorted by longest passage length down to shortest strings detected.

Sources: Direct links and excerpts from the outside web pages and publications triggering the similarities flagged.

Analyze these report components closely to identify unnecessary risks requiring additional rewrites or citations versus false positives boosting your score undeservedly. The optimal goal is a less than 15% similarity score, but proper quotes and references bring this down quickly.

Benefits of Using SafeAssign

Beyond just catching students who deliberately plagiarize, SafeAssign offers some useful benefits:

Develop Proper Citation Practices: Learning APA, MLA, or required academic style citation methods is crucial for professional work in nearly any industry. SafeAssign provides instant feedback identifying missing in-text citations so students can refine this vital skill.

Encourage Original Thought: Since previously submitted content gets checked, students must articulate unique ideas and analysis to be successful with SafeAssign scanning new assignments. This pushes critical thinking.

Self-Evaluate Writing: A staple of quality writing is the ability to self-edit and check for mistakes. Viewing the SafeAssign originality reports trains this attention to detail.

Deter Cheating Temptations: The likelihood of getting caught acts as a deterrent to discourage shortcuts and academically dishonest decisions by students. SafeAssign upholds integrity.

Institutions invest in SafeAssign because enhancing academic excellence, ethics, and honest work benefits the wider society in the long term.


SafeAssign compares all submitted assignments against its databases containing billions of internet pages plus institutional paper archives. As a result, yes – SafeAssign does check student work against previously submitted content.

Multiple attempts to manipulate reports by deleting or resubmitting old papers fail. You need to produce new, original content for each assignment. While not perfect, SafeAssign makes catching most copied text and past submissions inevitable. Leverage its originality reports during draft phases to bolster citations and paraphrasing.

Avoid risks from excessive similarity scores through careful attention to detail, analysis over verbatim regurgitation, and transparency with your thought process when questioned. Reflect on why certain excerpts may have triggered flags to strengthen future submissions. With proper diligence, a reasonable percentage score is achievable for virtually any well-constructed paper, thanks to SafeAssign’s algorithms.


Can I Use SafeAssign After Submitting?

No. Once you submit a final paper to an assignment, you can no longer alter what SafeAssign checks. However, the best practice is to upload draft versions first to use the originality reports to guide revisions. Then, you can fix issues prior to the graded submission.

What Does SafeAssign Check Against?

SafeAssign checks documents against internet sources, academic publications, and previously submitted student work stored in its Global Reference Database. Your paper is also compared with all assignments submitted at your particular institution. So, extensive past paper archives exist in the SafeAssign systems to catch duplication attempts.

How Long Does it Take SafeAssign to Work?

Processing times depend slightly on the length of submissions, but small papers usually complete checks in under 30 minutes. Larger documents require a few hours for SafeAssign to scan through content and compile comprehensive originality reports. Let your work index overnight to see the results the next day.

Does Turnitin Check Previous Submissions?

Yes. Similar to SafeAssign, Turnitin also saves copies of all assignments submitted by students into its repository, which is used for future comparison checks. Its database spans 900+ million student papers across 126,000 schools worldwide. Like with SafeAssign, students cannot freely recycle old work through Turnitin.

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