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Coral Reef Ecosystems

Research Project & Report
To be submitted before conclusion of the course.


During the last part of the course your will do you own project and this will be the basis of your report.

2 days have been set aside for this project.

Steps you should take:

  • Clearly state your broad objective?
  • What are your predictions hypotheses?
  • Clearly articulate a sampling design that is feasible given the time constraints
  • How do intend to analyse and present the data?
  • Is any of data you collected earlier in the course relevant to your project?
  • Is there literature on the subject that you will be able to access easily?


  • How much time will be required for the project?
  • Have you considered tides, wind seas?
  • Write a list of equipment that you require?
  • Consider the design of data sheets

Contingency - if snorkeling is not possible you will need to design another project

Note the separate document that was given to you with our expectations regarding the report. (see below)

Deadline: August 25th, 17:00 h, submitted by email to study@cms.uq.edu.au subject: TMN CRE

Content and word limit:
Write a 2000 word report (limit does not including Tables and Figures) on the results of your research project from Heron Island.
Suitable use of tables and figures encouraged.

Write the report in the format of a paper as follows.

present a title that reflects the content of your report.
a summary of the project and outcomes.
this section should give some background to the study (e.g. literature and relevant background from the fieldtrip) and a broad objective as well as specific aims.
Materials and Methods:
this section outlines your approach, sampling equipment and sampling design
use subheadings where appropriate. Use tables and graphs efficiently to support your discussion and conclusions.
put your results in a broader context
stay consistent with style – use the format of a journal of your choice (e.g. Marine Biology). You should have at least 5 relevant papers.

A comments sheet is provided as a guide for what we will be looking for.


  1. The title of your project did not reflect the content
  2. Few general headings were used in the essay that would have assisted the reader to follow your chosen structure. Sub headings throughout the body of the text help the reader to follow the logic of the material. Be consistent with the format of your headings and stick to a hierarchy (e.g. uppercase underlined, and subheadings of this category as uppercase only).
  3. No abstract or summary. It is important to have a short passage in a document informing the reader what your major conclusions are. Is there a major take-home message?
  4. Poor or no introduction. The introduction is one of the most important parts of any written work. A review (or study) is put in context by introducing the relevant organisms. A brief overview of other material on the subject and how your work fits in should be given. Importantly, tell the reader your aims and how you intend to structure the document.
  5. Poor presentation of data (ie graphic and tables)
  6. The statistics or measures of variaton (e.g. confidence intervals on graphs) were weak, absent or misinterpreted.
  7. Poor grammar and spelling.
    (i) Avoid changing tenses in mid-sentence. Most scientific work is written in the past tense.
    (ii) Proof read all of your work for errors.
    (iii) Underline generic and specific names, or present them in italics.
    (iv) Family names upper case in a sentence ‘Acanthuridae’, no upper case when ‘acanthurids’
  8. Sloppy presentation of illustrations and text.
  9. Poor use of the literature. A number of recent papers were available to you so that the subject could be explored in detail.
    (i) Don't present verbatim large passages of standard texts, especially if they are not given in quotes.
    (ii) Cite sources of information correctly (see published papers), give the name of the author(s) and the date of publication.
    (iii) Reference the source of your information
    (iv) Sloppy presentation of references. See journals for appropriate formats. Chose the format of one journal and stick to it.
  10. Some of the other points looked for included:
    (i) the use of original material;
    (ii) reference to the field course at Heron Island (if appropriate)
    (iii) good examples from the literature were used to substantiate your arguments.