FAQ on Common Turnitin issues

FAQ on Common Turnitin issues

My Turnitin score is high but only references and headings etc are responsible for this.

Sometimes Turnitin includes references and paper tittles and other irrelevant material in the similarity score.  Turnitin is set to ignore references, however it doesn’t always recognise these. Please make sure you use a clear subheading “ References” above the reference list in your document so that Turnitin will recognize your reference list and not include this in the similarity score.  If your score is still high and you can see this is clears only due to references (authors, journal and title names), then simply submit. We can see the Turnitin reports while marking and will ignore if this is clearly the case.

 Quoted material: Another reason for high scores is excessive use of directly quoted material from the original article you are reviewing. The point of this assignment is that you summarize the article in your own words. Titles and unique terms are fine, but do not simply copy sentences and phrases from the paper as part of your summary of the paper. This will not only give you a high similarity score, but will also result in you being marked down.


If you score is still 15% or over and the reason still seems to include irrelevant material, please simply email the Course-co-ordinator pointing this out. Markers can see the breakdown of  Turnitin reports and can easily assess any irrelevant material and ignore it.


I have submitted my assignment to Turnitin, but I haven’t received a receipt or similarity score back in time for the submission deadline.

The return time for similarity scores on Turnitin typically gets very long (24hr) when the submission deadlines gets close, due to high use of the database. For this reason we suggest you submit your draft for checking the similarity score at least 48 hours before the deadline.

If you submit your final version in time, but can’t get a report back from Turning before the submission deadline, your assignment has still been submitted, and there will be a time stamp on your document. Turnitin scores and reports will be generated later. The final version you submit will be marked and if there are any irregularities, you will be contacted by the course- coordinator to re- submit your document.

Errors or delays due to Turnitin are not within the control of students and therefore you wont lose marks for lateness if this is the case.

In the event of IT outages, Blackboard outages etc. please send a brief email to the course co-ordinator and deadlines will be extended accordingly, and an announcement will be made with details as soon a is possible with alternative submission details.

For electronic submissions you can make a screen shot of the report and append this to you your assignment. Electronic submission may be in MS Word, PDF or Pages file formats.

  • Refer to the course guide for information on requests for extensions, assignments that are under or over the word limits and late submission.



Guidelines and marking scheme for your review

Word count: 2000 + or – 200 words

  1. Read through the questions below that are used to assess scientific manuscripts.
  2. Read the article you have chosen.
  3. Write a review of the article with the following sections:
  4. Cover sheet- your name, the article you are reviewing, word count.
  5. Summary and Background
  6. Critical Review

General Requirements for assignment.

Reports in Microbiology are written in scientific format. The purpose of scientific writing is to inform the reader of the procedures and results of an experiment. The introduction section provides the background and context for the reader. The writing should be clear, logical and easy to understand. For this reason scientific writing usually follows a defined format.

The report should be word-processed. Use font 12 or higher and double space the report. Include a computer word count and usually at least one table or figure with results should be included. Pages should be numbered. Please use the Vancouver Referencing style in your report. The easiest way to do this is to use referencing software (eg. Endnote).

Students can access Endnote software through the RMIT library. Please see: http://www1.rmit.edu.au/library.

Please ask for advice on installing and using Endnote at the library or IT. Endnote training sessions are run on a regular basis.


In a scientific report, it is important to write as clearly and precisely as possible. After writing the first draft, read the report and see if you can reduce the word count by good precise scientific writing. The word limit for any report does not include tables, figures or reference list. This word limit is for the entire report, not for each individual exercise.

Students should use their word processing software to generate a word count and record the word count on the coversheet of your assignment.


Journal Article review Guidelines

  1. Summary of background and contents of paper (50% of marks)

Write two to three pages on the background and contents of the paper, this should cover the background of the study, and a summary of the study and its outcomes.

You should write a short review of the background of the article to make its context in medical microbiology clear, this should include a short discussion of the other relevant published studies in the area. This is likely to include the studies referenced in the article you are reading, but may also include other studies they don’t mention. In the case of a very novel technique there may be few other published studies, in which case you should focus your discussion of the background of the paper on the problem that it is addressing and its significance.

Your summary of the work done in the paper should cover the introduction, materials and methods, results and discussion sections.  You may either write a section under each of these sections or write an overall “summary” of the contents of the paper, provided all sections are mentioned in your report.  Don’t forget to read any supplementary information that is linked to the paper.

As this paper is written primarily for microbiologists working in medical microbiology, there may be some sections that are not explained in the detail that you need for your own understanding.  In that case, go to the literature and fill in the gaps.  Additional references used should be cited using the Vancouver referencing system.

Critical Review. 50% of marks

The aim of this section is to show the examiner that you have understood the purpose, need for and content of the paper- particularly in relation to other published work in the field.

Present a critical review of the article.  The following points will be helpful in the review:  It is not essential that you answer all of these questions (not all will be directly relevant to the article you have chosen): or even that you write your review in the order set out below, but use these points as a guide and check list.

The major focus of the critical review should be the findings of the study, or the experimental approach in relation to other published work in the field.

You can point out typographic and grammatical errors, or state whether you think some parts of the paper are too long, or difficult to understand, but do not devote a large part of your review to these issues.

Questions to consider when critically reviewing an article:

The following guidelines are modified from guidelines for reviewers of the European Journal of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (EJMID):  Permission was obtained from the journal to reproduce this information.


  • How original is this paper? For example, is it simply applying the methods used in another study to a new situation or is the idea completely novel?
  • Are there any published studies on the same topic?
  • What is unique about this study?
  • How important is this study to medical microbiology?
  • Are there any sections of the paper that are too long and could be shortened?
  • Is the writing clear, simple and concise?


  • Does the abstract outline the aims of the study, main methods, results and conclusions?


  • Does the introduction state the research question to be addressed?
  • Is sufficient background information provided for readers to understand the question?

 Materials and methods

  • Are the methods appropriate to the research question/s being addressed?
  • Are the methods described in sufficient detail to be repeated by another microbiologist? Is any important information missing? 
  • Have references been provided for all the methods, except new ones developed by the authors?


  • Are there any results in the text that would be better presented in a table or figure?
  • Is there any material presented in a table or figure that would be better presented in the text?Is there any repetition of results in text AND a table or figure?


  • Do you agree with the author’s interpretation of results? And the significance of the study? (You are free to agree or disagree- you need to justify your statements with explanations and or reference to relevant scientific literature)
  • Have the authors clearly distinguished between their own results and the results of others?
  • Are there any negative findings in the results that could be important but have not been discussed?
  • Have the authors adequately discussed their results and conclusions in relation to the results of other investigators?
  • Are the author’s conclusions acceptable and is there sufficient evidence for the conclusions they have drawn?
  • Do the findings of the study agree with, or contradict other studies? Has this been discussed?
  • Are there any relevant studies on this topic that have not been referred to or discussed by the authors?


  • Check that all statements in the text that require a reference are properly referenced.

Tables and figures

  • Do all tables and figures have complete legends so that they can be understood without reference to the text?
  • Could any of the tables and figures be omitted or simplified?

Ethics and Conflicts of interest:

If relevant-  Were all studies approved by the relevant animal or human ethics committees?

Do you think there could be any conflict of interest regarding the results of the study? Are any conflicts declared? Are there commercial interests in the study?


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