Revised: 9 August 2009 (program design advice extended)
Client requests a monitoring or assessment program
Where a client requires a monitoring program, or assessment program, Delta shall firstly establish whether a standard monitoring protocol would be appropriate. Where it is possible to use a standard protocol or version of such, the resulting data becomes more useful in that it can be compared with similar data.
Should non-standard environmental parameters need monitoring (eg use of viscosity to determine impact of cyanobacterial blooms) or indeed if an indicator needs determining that can act as a surrogate measure, these should be used in conjunction with a standard protocol for the other parameters and sampling design.
Should no protocol exist (only draft protocols exist for estuarine monitoring, and none at all for hypersaline lakes), Delta personnel shall develop a protocol that measures all relevant parameters and ensures representative sampling. Reference to ecological methods books and to related protocols is necessary to ensure a protocol design that will be relevant.
It is essential to first determine whether a survey/site assessment or monitoring program is required. Generally speaking, surveys or site assesments assess a large area, once, and often for a wide range of parameters. Monitoring programs are more targeted, repeatedly visiting a range of single locations withing a larger area to measure a relatively narrow range of parameters.
Warning: Monitoring of aquatic biological communities can be confounded by the spatial and temporal heterogeneity they display. As a result of this variablility, monitoring programs that deliver ecological status measures derived from surveying the biological aspects of the environment (diatoms, macroinvertebrates etc) will have a degree of uncertainty associated with them. There is a risk that the status obtained from the samples is different to the true status of that water body. Where the client has specified this type of program (eg AusRIVAS) it is essential that replicate samples be obtained, both spatially and temporally.
The sampling/monitoring/assessment design that is developed is reviewed and approved by the senior consultant, and is also provided to the client for approval prior to use. Client validation of the design is achieved during initial use to confirm compliance to the customer's requirements.
The designer is required to specify any inspections or tests which may verify the design, by practical means, at the earliest possible stage of development.
Development of methods for testing environmental parameters
Hypersaline brines are difficult to test and many methods may be limited by the massive quantities of mixed salts present in brines commonly associated with salt lakes. Delta undertakes considerable work in hypersaline environments and frequently needs to modify standard methods to work in them. For in-house "method" design work, all developed methods are to be demonstrated to the Senior Consultant, and a period of validation (by use of parallel methods) is to be undertaken prior to method's approval by the Senior Consultant.
Graphic design is the responsibility of each individual. Delta reports and proposals are written on the templates provided (MS Office) and have standard covers and binders. The templates provide the appropriate fonts, headers, footers, contents tables and margins. Layout within the document should remain clean and uncluttered. Feel free to examine the assorted Desktop Publishing design guides in the bookcases for examples of effective design.
Where graphics and illustrations are required in a client report, a close adherence to any copyrights is required. Preparing original work is recommended if the copyright holder cannot be contacted. Original work may include photographs, pencil and pen drawings and images manipulated in computer drawing, painting or CAD packages. Where conceptual diagrams are required, the use of a conceptual diagram package such as that developed by the Integration and Application Network should be used, with the appropriate citation. Advice on scientific, landscape and technical drawing is available in a range of books dedicated to this topic, held in the bookcases.
Research, while a creative process, progresses best if undertaken in an orderly fashion. The steps will generally follow this progression: identify problem, literature review, experimentation, analysis of results and conclusions.
CSIRO laboratory notebooks are provided to ensure all stages of the research process are captured. The notebooks are not limited to the experimental phase. They are an excellent place to record thought processes. Please read the guidelines in the front cover of the notebooks, to gain an idea of the benefits of fully utilising them. Where approriate, literature summaries shall be produced for the information of other personnel. Not all research requires a formal written literature survey (small projects), but a written summary should be produced when it can be of assistance to others or is likely to be of interest to a wider group.
There are a number of "research method" books in the bookcases to assist.
Innovative or novel methods
Innovation proceeds in small steps and generally moves from large and clumsy methods towards smaller more efficient methods. Indeed, there is a joke that the most innovative process is one that does everything while not being present itself. When we face obstacles in designing our research or monitoring, we may need to innovate. The general principles of thinking innovatively about any specific problem are outlined in a method called TRIZ. There are several texts on this methodology in the bookcases that may provide assistance.
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