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GEO204 Research Skills Guide: Plan

Your Assessment Task

Assessment 2,3 & 4 make up the steps of your research project.

In Assessment 2, you identified the soil forming factors at your sites. Now, for Assessment 3, you need to develop predictions for the soil features you will be testing at your sites. The soil features you will be testing are soil colour, pH, texture, bulk density, dispersion, slaking, infiltration and organic matter (soil organic carbon).

You need to identify 20 predictions to receive full marks. To pass this assessment you must include at least one prediction for each soil feature. Each correctly, fully identified and referenced explanation is worth a total of 5 marks (total of 100 marks).  

Your predictions must be referenced with peer reviewed literature.

You should also ensure that you explore the role of all five soil forming factors.  Assessment 4 will require you to discuss the role of soil forming factors on the features of your soil, based on your predictions and results.

For the full version of instructions around this assessment, please refer to your subject outline.

Topic Analysis

A topic analysis will help you to clarify and understand what your assessment question is asking you to do.

You will generally be given three key pieces of information:

  1. The key topic or concept words direct you in what to research.
  2. The limits or qualifiers tell you the specific focus of the topic or concept.
  3. The task or instruction terms tell how you are to deal with the content. CSU has a list of explanations for common instruction words.

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:

Effects of organisms (vegetation/organic matter) on soil colour

Keyword Synonym / Similar term or phrase
Soil colo?r soil colour, soil color
Organism organic matter, vegetation, humus, soil formation
Effects of relationship, correlation, cause, determinant

Topic Analysis


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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