Make your assignment marker happy

Lachlan Fetterplace:

While I am reblogging things; I have been meaning to reblog this post of Martins for a while. He has written a useful little document (that you can download) outlining many of the basic grammar and formatting mistakes that students make in their reports (and that apparently make him miserable haha). Lets be honest, I made a few of the mistakes as well so I found it quite useful myself but perhaps its best use is being passed onto undergrads when you are going mark their work ;). I’ll let Martin do the rest of the talking…

Originally posted on Squiddled thoughts:

The dreaded red pen. The dreaded red pen. An example of a very frustrated marker. I hope my feedback was a little less personal (this is NOT a picture of my marking). 

Recently I’ve been marking for some second and third year biology classes. I’ve been a little shocked at the quality of the work the students have been presenting. I found myself wondering whether I was marking them too hard? However, I soon came to the conclusion that this was not the case.

One of the classes is a third year class and some of these students are on the cusp of completing a Bachelor of Science without knowing whether to use “two”, “to” or “too”. It’s a scary thought. I would like to think that these students wouldn’t be able to complete their degrees with such appalling spelling and grammar, but let’s face it, they’ve made it through to the final semester of their undergraduate degrees…

View original 447 more words

The Altmetric Bookmarklet – an instant measure of the reach of academic publications [UPDATED]

Lachlan Fetterplace:

I was thinking of writing a post about Altmetrics Bookmarklet after talking to a few people about how useful it is – however I don’t think I could do any better than Jeff Ollerton’s Biodiversity Blog post which is well written and concise. So I have re-blogged it below. The only thing I’d add for those that haven’t looked at Altmetrics before is that it isn’t necessary to download the bookmarklet to use Almetrics it as many databases have a Alt tab next to each paper (for example Wiley online library).

Originally posted on Jeff Ollerton's Biodiversity Blog:

Academics seem to be obsessed with metrics of all kinds at the moment, and I’m certainly not immune to it as my recent post on the h-indexdemonstrated.  So I was intrigued by a new (at least to me) browser plug-in that gives you instant altmetricssuch as number of times mentioned on Twitter, Facebook or on news outlets, or cited in blogs, policy documents, Wikipedia, etc.  It’s called the Altmetrics Bookmarklet and can be downloaded (or rather dragged from the screen to the bookmark bar of your browser) from here.

I’ve given it a spin and it seems to do what it says it can do, within narrow publisher and time limits (2011 onward for Twitter, for instance).  It’s very, very simple.  Just find a paper that you are interested in, on the publisher’s official website; here’s a recent one by my colleagues Duncan McCollin and Robin Crockett…

View original 182 more words

Building Coral Trout Management

This guest post is by Jordan Matley, a PhD Candidate at James Cook University who has worked on various subjects ranging from the foraging ecology of seals, beluga whales and narwhals in the Arctic to the movement of fish on coral reefs in Tropical Australia.  At the recent Australian Society of Fish Biology conference we were talking about all things fishy but his work on coral trout was one of the highlights for me. Hence (when he had his guard down at the bar) I asked him to give us a run down on some of his coral trout behaviour work.


Building Coral Trout Management

By Jordan Matley


A tagged leopard coralgrouper (Plectropomus leopardus) ready for release.

Imagine you were opening a new hotel from scratch. Because you are in a rush (and without any prior experience) you decide to put an ad online – “Tradespeople needed to build hotel. First 100 qualified applicants will be hired on the spot”. True to your word, you hire the first century of people who have a diploma related to Trades and Services. See the problem with that? Well, chances are the workforce will consist of those with the most common experience, likely general labourers. However, to build a hotel, you need a plethora of highly skilled workers: electricians, builders, decorators, plumbers, and the list goes on. But you did not select for that, you just grouped all tradespeople together and the more abundant profession filled the ranks. Foolish? I’d say so. Continue reading

Ocean Acidification – The Ocean’s other problem with CO2

This guest post is from Elliot Scanes, a PhD candidate from Western Sydney University who runs cool experiments to understand the impact of climate change on our molluscs. Elliot has a great Instagram research account with Dr Vicky Cole called seao2, so give them a follow to keep up to date with their work.

Ocean Acidification – The Ocean’s other problem with CO2 

by Elliot Scanes

Humans are currently emitting CO2 faster than has occurred on Earth for millions of years. Currently, atmospheric CO2 concentrations are at their highest point in 800,000 years and don’t look like slowing any time soon. Inevitable global warming as a consequence of the excess CO2 and other pollutants causing the “greenhouse effect” is well established among scientists (despite what politicians might say). This warming of the earth will eventually also cause warming of the oceans, most notably affecting species ranges. But this is not the only way excess CO2 is going to change the world’s oceans. The oceans have already absorbed 40% of the CO2 emitted by humans, and will keep continuing to do so. As CO2 dissolves in seawater, it forms carbonic acid, which, in turn causes the oceans to acidify. So far, oceanic pH (the measure of acidity) has fallen 0.1 units, and is predicted to fall 0.3 – 0.4 pH units by 2100 unless drastic global action is taken to curb emissions.


Collecting Sydney rock oysters (Saccostrea glomerata) for experiments in Port Stephens.


Opening flat oysters (Ostrea angasai).









This small decrease in pH may seem insignificant, however pH is measured on a natural logarithmic scale (for those mathematicians) which means that each unit is an order of magnitude larger than the previous. A 0.3 unit drop in pH means that calcium carbonate, the mineral that all shelled animals shells are composed of, is now soluble in seawater. Predictably, scientists are most concerned about the shelled animals of the ocean like molluscs, crustaceans and cnidarian (corals). Investigations by our lab at Western Sydney University have shown that under these scenarios Sydney rock oysters will have difficulty forming their shell, especially in their juvenile stages. These difficulties waste vital energy, which is especially important in an environment where you always need an edge on your competitor. Similar studies have found comparable effects in sea urchins, corals, scallops and almost every shelled animal in the ocean that you can think of. Continue reading

Dragging the chain – does anchoring by large ships impact our marine life?

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining a multidisciplinary team of researchers, supported by UOW’s Global Challenges program, to investigate the potential impact of large ships anchoring on our marine life and seafloor habitats.

ship 2

As an island nation, we are heavily dependent on shipping, with large ships transporting 99% of our trade by volume. Prior to entering our ports these large vessels may anchor in deep water, often for many days, waiting for their turn to exchange cargo.

Now when I say ‘large’ I mean freakin huge (see pic below). These ships are between 200-300 metres long and to anchor they require an anchor chain up to 250 metres long where each individual chain link can weigh up to 200 kilograms! Continue reading

Australian science channels 2015 postgraduate survival guide out now.

post grad survival guide 2015 cover

The 2015 Postgraduate Survival Guide is now available through Australia’s science channel and Lachlan from Fish Thinkers talks fish tracking in the hot topics section Article here. There is a ‘photo’ link with quite a few of our tracking field work photos as well and some nice underwater photos from James Cook Uni in the marine conservation section. The guide is far from marine based though and covers numerous fields from robotics to astrophysics and is well worth a read if you are considering masters or PhD research down the track.

2015 guide hot topics

More down loads options including google play and Itunes can be found at

Designing a fish identification survey app for use underwater in the Caribbean

Lionfish in the Caribbean.

Lionfish in the Caribbean. Copyright Duane J Sanabria

My fellow PhD candidates over in Puerto Rico, Chelsea & Evan Tuohy are undertaking a lot of interesting marine research. One of their current projects they are working on is developing a fish identification and surveying app for Caribbean reef fish ID and underwater surveys. Chelsea explains in more depth in her guest blog below.

I first started diving in 2008, and it was an undergraduate field course hosted at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez’ Isla Magueyes field station that introduced me to the work of a field scientist. I lived in un-airconditioned dorms, woke up early to dive every morning, and spent the afternoons pouring over fish identification books. This was my first time trying to identify Caribbean reef fish, and I had zero background on this subject. Continue reading