Safe Assign
SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of academic papers to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works. Safe Assign can be used to 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.


How SafeAssignments Work

SafeAssign is based on a unique text matching algorithm capable of detecting exact and inexact matching between a paper and source material. SafeAssignments are compared against several different databases, including:

  • Internet – comprehensive index of documents available for public access on the Internet
  • ProQuest ABI/Inform database – more than 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from 1990s to present time, updated weekly (exclusive access)
  • Institutional document archives – contains all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institutions
  • Global Reference Database – contains papers that were volunteered by students from Blackboard client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism

Global Reference Database

Blackboard’s Global Reference Database is a separate database where students voluntarily donate copies of their papers to help prevent plagiarism. It is separated from each institution’s internal database, where all papers are stored by each corresponding institution, and students are free to select the option to check their papers without submitting them to the Global Reference Database. Students submit their papers to the database voluntarily and agree not to remove papers in the future. Submissions to the Global Reference Database are extra copies that are given voluntarily for the purpose of helping with plagiarism prevention. Blackboard does not claim ownership of submitted papers.

How SafeAssign is Used

SafeAssign can be used in two ways.

  1. Instructors 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 one provided currently by Blackboard Learning System.  The papers will then be delivered to instructors through the Blackboard Learning System together with the SafeAssign Originality Reports, which details the results of the matching process.
  2. Instructors may upload papers directly, without student involvement through the Direct Submit feature.

Originality 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 instructors to view a line-by-line comparison of potentially unoriginal text from submitted papers and the matching external documents.

Support Document

Students can download the SafeAssign Student Guide. This document explains how SafeAssign works, how to submit a SafeAssignment, how to view submissions, and explains the SafeAssign Originality report.