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GEO314/513 Research Skills Guide: Plan

Your Assessment Task

It is important to break down the requirements of your assessment task before you start searching for information so that you can plan your approach.

Let's take a look at the subject outline:

The seasonal flow regime of the Murrumbidgee River – The effect of regulation

The aim of this assessment is to provide students with experience in the analysis of flow data and to use the knowledge gained through reading about river regulation to discuss possible reasons for differences between historical (measured flow) and modelled data that represents the 'natural' flows.

The following tasks are to be undertaken:

1. Examine seasonal flow data for the Murrumbidgee River for the period 1970 to 1998 (Table 1). Because the last major water storage on the upper Murrumbidgee was constructed before 1970, this period can be thought of as representing the present regulated regime. Historical regulated flows are simply those recorded at the river gauge. The modelled 'natural' (IQQM, flows eliminate the effects of both water storage in dams and flow diversions into (from the Snowy Mountains Scheme) and out of the river (irrigation). In that sense, they approximate pre-regulation flows.

2. Calculate the average annual daily flow at Gundagai and Wagga Wagga under historical and modelled conditions (you will need to average the flows for each season).

3. What reasons can you suggest for the difference between the historical and modelled averages?

4. Calculate seasonal percentage flow differences at Wagga Wagga and Hay for historical and modelled flow regimes. Identify increases and decreases. Present your data in a table. See example calculations: 

Historical Flow Modelled flow (H/M) x 100 % change
14000 8000 175 175 - 100 = +75
8000 14000 57 57 - 100 = -43

5. Prepare graphs showing seasonal differences between historical and modelled flows at Wagga Wagga and Hay. Bar graphs are recommended.

6. With reference to your graphs, compare differences between historical regulated and modelled 'natural' seasonal flow regimes at Wagga Wagga and Hay. What are the major differences between the two stations? What reasons can you suggest for these differences? The locations of major irrigation areas in the Murrumbidgee Valley provide a clue.
(It will be useful to include a map of the Murrumbidgee Valley showing the Murrumbidgee River and the include locations of Wagga Wagga, Hay and the major irrigation areas.)

 7. Complete a scientific report (with Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion and Conclusion sections) with the title, "Effect of regulation on the seasonal flow regime of the Murrumbidgee River", based on the data and directions provided here. Length 1500-2000 words, excluding tables and figures.


At first you may feel a little overwhelmed by all of these requirements. However, with some thought and planning, you can come up with a research plan that will suit this assessment task.

Topic Analysis

Let's start thinking about what terms you will use when searching for information. To do this:

  • Identify the key concepts of your topic (watch the topic analysis video for assistance); and then
  • Brainstorm as many synonyms and similar terms/phrases as you can.

This is a useful exercise because the language used to describe your topic may vary from source to source, and you don't want to miss out on a good source because it uses a different term to the one you are searching on.

Let's use this topic as an example:

Effect of regulation on the seasonal flow regime of the Murrumbidgee River

Keyword Synonym / Similar term or phrase
Murrumbidgee River Murray Darling Basin
seasonal flow regime river flow, seasonal variation, flow regime
regulation regulat*, manage, govern, monitor
hydrological impacts hydrolog*, water cycle, water quality, fluvial*, hydrometry,


Write down the key concepts from your topic and have a go at brainstorming as many alternative keywords and phrases as possible.

Find additional keywords

Tip: Online dictionaries and thesauri can help you identify synonyms. 

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