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University of Newcastle Library Guides

Environmental and Life Sciences: MARI2500 Research Assessments

A Library Guide for Environmental and Life Sciences including biology, chemistry, environmental science, food science, marine science, geology and geography

Hello MARI2500 Students, Welcome to the Help Guide!

mari1000 help guide banner

This guide has 10 mini-sections to get you started with your

  • Dune Report assignment, and 
  • Poster assignments

Before you start, it is strongly recommended that you:

  • read the Assessment Instructions in your Canvas course site
  • read the Marking Rubric for the assignment in your Canvas course site
  • read the Guidelines for Preparation of the Dune Field Study Report
  • select your  Poster Topic and list each of the questions you need to answer 
  • know the kind of information you are asked to use for this assignment

1. Understand Your Topic and Research Questions

Before you start looking for information for your assignment, it is important to analyse your topic and questions. Think about:

  • What the question means and how you should go about answering it.
  • How much information do you need?
  • What kind of information have you been asked to use?
  • Are there any limiters such as time or geographic locations?

Identifying key concepts or keywords in your assignment will help you to locate relevant information more effectively. Also think about similar concepts and alternative terms eg MPAs OR "Marine Protected Areas", aboriginal OR indigenous. 

These key concepts and keywords will form the basis of your search strategy. 

Watch the video below on topic analysis. What are your key concepts and keywords?

2. Know the Search Tips and Library Search

Once you have identified the keywords included in your assignment question, you can think about how to use these keywords to conduct your search.

Using appropriate search techniques such as Boolean, phrase searching, and truncation can make your search more effective.

Watch the video below and try the Library Search for books and article

3. Find Journal Articles Using Databases

Library journal databases are collections of journal articles. You can find the best databases for your topic on the Marine Science subject guide.  

Not sure how to use them? Watch the following videos and try your search in EBSCO Environment Complete and ScienceDirect Journals

4. Find Government Documents by Google Advanced Search

Government publications such as legal material, government policies, reports, and statistics may only be available on the internet. The simplest way to find such material is by Google advanced search.

Watch the following video on Google advanced search and try a search using your assessment keywords such as Commercial fish* AND Australian environment* impacts. Do you know how and why to limit the results by, and .pdf?

5. Do a Snowball Search with Google Scholar

Snowball search is using a key document on your topic as a starting point to find more other relevant publications by tracking down the citations.

  • Looking at the bibliography on the document to find more titles published on the same topic 
  • Using databases or Google scholar to find other article citing this document. 

Watch the video below and try a snowball search in Google Scholar using the following title: Sand dune mobility under climate change in the Kalahari and Australian deserts. How many articles have cited this article?

Q & A Canvas Discussion Forum Sessions

Your Teaching Liaison Librarian is providing Q & A sessions to respond to any questions via the Canvas Discussion Forum.

Session times
The below session times are scheduled to correspond with your assignments. 

  • The 1st group is in week 7 to support your Dune Report research.
Day Time
Monday 29th August 12 PM - 1 PM
Thursday 1st September 3 PM - 4 PM
  • The 2nd group is in week 10 to support your research for your Poster assignment.
Day Time
Monday 19th September 12 PM - 1 PM
Thursday 22nd September 3 PM - 4 PM

6. Evaluate Your Sources Using TRAAP

  • Locating sources appropriate for university assignments takes time and critical evaluation.
  • Understanding how to evaluate information should make it easier for you to choose sources for your assessments.

Watch the following video on evaluating your sources with the TRAAP method. 

7. Reference in an Author / Date Style: APA or Harvard

  • Always follow your lecturer's instructions for referencing. 
  • Your lecturer’s instructions overrule the guidelines in the library guides.

This assignment requires you to use either the Harvard or the APA style.  

See the following example of a bibliography in APA 7th style.


Ashkenazy, Y., Yizhaq, H., & Tsoar, H. (2012). Sand dune mobility under climate change in the Kalahari and Australian deserts. Climatic Change, 112(3-4), 901-923. 

Caric, H., Cukrov, N., & Omanovic, D. (2021). Nautical tourism in marine protected areas (MPAs): Evaluating an impact of copper emission from antifouling coating. Sustainability, 13(21).

Davies, C. E. (2021). Invertebrate health in marine protected areas (MPAs). Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 186.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. (n.d.). Legislation, regulations, agreements and policies.

Pechenik, J. A. (2016). A short guide to writing about biology (9th ed.). Pearson. 

Qu, Z., Thrush, S., & Lewis, N. (2021). Evaluating decision-support tools for monetary valuation of ecosystem services for marine protected areas. Ocean & Coastal Management, 215.

Smyth, T. A. G., Wilson, R., Rooney, P., & Yates, K. L. (2022). Extent, accuracy and repeatability of bare sand and vegetation cover in dunes mapped from aerial imagery is highly variable. Aeolian Research, 56, 100799. 

8. Read Effectively for Your Research

You won’t be able to read everything on your topic and you don’t need to read a source from cover to cover, you need to read effectively.

Watch the video below on reading and note making for your literature review

9. Write and Present Your Research

Writing your report is an ongoing process of writing and re-writing. See the UON Academic Support Team’s Guide to Report Writing for detailed instructions on report writing, and always follow your lecturer’s instructions for what elements you are required to include. 

Watch the video below on Report Writing. Contact academic support for more help.

10. Use Open Licensed Images

If you need an image for decorative purpose for your Poster assignment, you may find and use some of the images in the public domain or with Creative Commons license from the following Open Access media collections.

  • Openverse (formerly Creative Commons Search)All Openverse content is under a Creative Commons license or is in the public domain. You can search or browse by keyword, images, audio, etc.
  • PixabayMillions of shared free stock photos, vector graphics, illustrations and videos that are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.
  • UnsplashAll photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons 0, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes.

You need to provide attributions when using any CC resources. See How to give attribution here