Research Project


A student-designed and executed research project, integrating a geospatial component, is the hallmark of this course. As part of the changes and updates to our GSP curriculum, it has been determined that project management, planning and organizing, critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, and graphic communication skills are important qualities that many employers are looking for. Intermediate Geographic Information  Systems (GSP 370) was chosen as an optimal place along the GSP track to implement a major research project in order to address these learning objectives.

Note: Your research topic does not have to be specifically related to a particular geospatial method or process. Choose a topic you are interested in, then try to incorporate a geospatial component into the research. This can include geospatial analysis, geospatial field work, geospatial visualization, or a combination of each.

Much of the latter part of this course will be dedicated to your research project and students should anticipate spending a significant amount of time working on this.

Activities related to the project will include:

  • Library and/or web-based research
  • Review of research articles
  • Data collection (field work, library and/or Internet searches, contacting local agencies or organizations)
  • Lab work to complete data preparation, analysis, and cartographic design.
  • Writing to complete the research proposal
  • Writing to complete the research paper.

Project Deliverables


  • Research Proposal and Literature Review
  • Research Paper

The Research Project may be conducted individually or as a team project. Team projects may be held to a higher standard in terms of quantity and quality of work.

Research Proposal and Literature Review


The research proposal, worth 100 points, will be turned in using Humboldt State University’s Canvas system. The bulk of your research proposal will consist of a literature review, written as part of the introduction section. A literature review is not a book summary or article summary. Rather, it is a synthesis of your references as they relate to your research project. It provides the background and framework for your research objectives. Eventually, the introduction section and literature review of your research proposal will be used as the introduction section of your research paper.

For more information about writing a literature review, you can watch the following video on the NC State website: Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students

Research Proposal and Literature Review Requirements

Length requirement: The Research Proposal and Literature Review must have a minimum of 1,000 to 1,500 words. Submissions that do not meet the minimum requirements will receive a zero grade.

Section Requirements: It must contain the following sections. Each section should have a section header, typically a Header 1 style in Microsoft Word.

  • Introduction
    • Include a literature review of your references.
      • The bulk of the proposal will be the literature review
    • State the goals or objectives of the research clearly
  • Methods
    • Methods you think you will use
      • If you are not sure, you may consider describing several possible methods to reach your goals.
    • A table that lists the required GIS data and sources you will need or have gathered
  • Project Schedule in the form of a detailed Gantt chart with specific tasks and dates.
    • Group projects will be required to provide team-member-specific details on the project schedule.
  • List of References (A minimum of five academic journal articles referenced using APA formatting guidelines)

 

Students are encouraged to use this research project to enhance existing academic endeavors including thesis work, major capstone projects, and internships or other professional development.

Research Paper


The research paper, worth 100 points, will be turned in using Humboldt State University’s Canvas system. The purpose of the research paper is the communicate the finer details about your project including the topic, the problem or questions you are trying to address, the methods you used, the results of your research, and your final discussion thoughts and conclusions.

Length requirement: The final project report must have a minimum of 2,000 to 2,500 words. Submissions that do not meet the minimum requirements will receive a zero grade.

Section Requirements: It must contain the following sections. Each section should have a section header, typically a Header 1 style in Microsoft Word.

  • Title Page
    • Include the course title, your name, and the date
  • Abstract
    • Given the complexity of this project, you should have a robust abstract which adequately summarizes the entire project.
  • Table of Contents
    • Use Microsoft Word to properly insert and format the table of contents. This works best when section headers are formatted using a Header 1 style.
    • List of Tables(if applicable)
    • List of Figures (if applicable)
    • List of Appendices (if applicable)
  • Introduction
    • Include a literature review of your references.
    • State the goals or objectives of the research clearly
  • Methods
    • This section should include a summary of your research methods and analysis. You may including additional visual elements, such as a flow chart.
  • Results
    • A written explanation or summary of your results. This should be several paragraphs long.
    • Include one or more cartographically sound maps.
      • The maps should be designed small enough to fit nicely as a figure within the writing assignment document. A 6 by 6 in map size would be ideal.
      • Include a north arrow, a scale bar, and a legend
      • Insert a caption in Microsoft Word instead of a map title.
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgments
    • Here you should cite any external sources of data, such as data collected from the USGS Earth Explorer, USGS National Map Viewer, or the Los Angeles Geospatial Data Hub. You can also use this section to acknowledge any informal assistance or information you received from others.
  • References (A minimum of five academic journal articles referenced using APA formatting guidelines)
  • Appendices (if applicable)

 

Students that do not meet the minimum requirements may receive a 0 for the Research Paper and risk failing the course.