Navigating Your SafeAssign Report for the Doctoral Writing Assessment

When you submit your Doctoral Writing Assessment essay to Blackboard, it goes through SafeAssign for review. SafeAssign is a Blackboard tool that compares your essay submission to online sources and other previously submitted papers to highlight areas of similarity and help students prevent plagiarism. Sometimes SafeAssign provides useful information that can help you avoid plagiarism and improve your writing, and sometimes it simply shows that your citations and references and quotations are accurate.

Though SafeAssign provides a percentage of the overall match, the percentage has little significance. What really matters is the content of the Originality Report that SafeAssign produces and your interpretation of why the program has identified a match. If you’re new to using SafeAssign, we recommend that you view this video from Student Affairs: How to Interpret a SafeAssign Originality Report Student Tutorial.

No matter what percentage match your SafeAssign report shows, you can interpret the information in the Originality Report to help you revise your Doctoral Writing Assessment essay and avoid plagiarism.


Here are the most common reasons which result in a match in Safe Assign but are not cause for concern or revision:

  • Listing the assignment prompt questions
  • Providing citations
  • Offering a references page
  • Quoting something from an article or online source and providing quotation marks and a citation
  • Starting the essay with a title page or title that uses common language like “Doctoral Writing Assessment” or “DRWA-8880/8881G”

If any of the reasons for the matches in your paper align with those listed above, then this is not cause for concern. It is fine to provide the assignment prompt questions at the start of the essay and to include the course title; SafeAssign will flag these as a match simply because past students have done the same. Also, citations, references, and quotations have to be presented in particular ways, so SafeAssign often flags these as a match; this can increase the SafeAssign match percentage, but this is not a problem.

This just means that other students or researchers have provided these questions, citations, references, quotes, or titles in their essays – since these are in line with the conventions of scholarly writing and can only be presented one way, this is okay and you do not need to revise anything in your paper. However, there are some instances where the SafeAssign report results do provide information that suggests that there are issues with plagiarism.


Here is a list of the most common reasons which result in a match in Safe Assign and are cause for concern or revision along with what you can do to revise:

Paraphrasing ineffectively – An effective paraphrase requires you to rewrite the author’s original ideas in your own words and sentence structure and provide a citation and reference. If the report highlights your paraphrase as a match, this may mean that you need to do more to revise in your own words and sentence structure.

What you can do: Revise and focus on the important ideas in the original author’s text. Present those ideas in your own words and sentence structure with a citation. Read more about effective paraphrase on the Writing Center website: Effective paraphrasing strategies.

Quoting ineffectively – An effective quotation uses quotation marks around the entire quoted text, reflects the exact original language, and provides a citation and corresponding reference entry. If you quote but omit quotation marks, you need to revise.

What you can do: You have two options to revise: (a) Provide quotation marks around the quoted text and include a citation and reference or (b) revise the quoted information to be a paraphrase and provide a citation and reference. Read more about effective quotation on the Writing Center website: Using Evidence: Quotation.

Quoting too much – When writing academically and responding to an assignment prompt, it is important to balance the inclusion of source material with your own analysis and reasoning. If you have provided many quotations in your paper, this will likely increase the SafeAssign match percentage and you will see many highlighted sentences in your Originality Report. Though these may be quoted and cited appropriately, there may be other issues with not addressing the assignment prompt or providing your own analysis.

What you can do: To revise, consider providing fewer quotations and more analysis with your own reasoning and response to the prompt. Read more about analyzing evidence in your paragraphs on the Writing Center website: Using Evidence: Analysis.

Submitting a paper that you wrote for another class to DRWA-8880G/8881G – Walden’s policy is that you cannot use the same assignment twice without approval, and approval is not given to re-use past work for the Doctoral Writing Assessment. You must write an original essay.

What you can do: To address this, start fresh and write an original essay that responds to the assignment prompt, and do not re-use past work. Read more about writing in response to Walden assignment prompts on the Writing Center blog: Prompted to Write: A Guide for Using Walden Assignment Prompts to Your Advantage.

As noted in the How to Interpret a SafeAssign Originality Report Student Tutorial video linked above, you don’t need to keep revising and resubmitting to get your SafeAssign match percentage down to 0%. With scholarly writing, that is likely not feasible since you need to include citations and references and may choose to quote. However, if you find that your SafeAssign Originality Report shows any of the issues listed above like paraphrasing and quoting ineffectively, quoting too much, or submitting a different course paper, then you should revise as appropriate to avoid plagiarism and submit your best, original work.

If you have additional questions or concerns with your Doctoral Writing Assessment essay SafeAssign report outcomes, please feel free to reach out to us at writingassessment@mail.waldenu.edu.


Dena Easton is the Operations Manager for Writing Assessments at Walden’s Academic Skills Center. Dena and her team are here to support doctoral students with identifying any writing skill improvements at the beginning of their doctoral journey.

Jes Philbrook is the Manager of Writing Assessment at Walden’s Writing Center. Jes is passionate about helping students develop their writing voices and scholarly writing skills so that they can use writing to achieve their personal, professional, and social change goals.

3 thoughts on “Navigating Your SafeAssign Report for the Doctoral Writing Assessment

  1. Instructions regarding writing assignments are critical I feel this information will be exceptionally useful and helpful during my graduate journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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