Final Project

The purpose of the final project is to synthesize the information learned in this course and demonstrate your skill in cartographic design. Students will carry out a basic GIS Analysis and communicate the process by writing a lab report. Ideally, students will use one or more of the analysis methods covered in lab activities.

Students are required to find two academic journal articles or news articles that relate to their mapping theme. For example, if the data collection topic centered around shorebirds, students may want to find journal articles related to shorebird ecology or news articles related to a recent restoration project. Ideally, students would tie these articles into their project topic using the Introduction section, though students may cite them anywhere in their report.

The final project will be turned in as a written report using Humboldt State University’s Canvas system. It should use APA formatting guidelines.

Final Project Requirements

Length requirement: The final project report must have a minimum of 500 to 1,000 words.

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
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
    • This section should include background on the project.
    • You should cite both of your references in this section to support your introduction.
  • Methods
    • This section should include a modest summary of your work (at least one or two paragraphs).
  • Results
    • A written explanation (at least one or two paragraphs)
    • Should include at least one cartographically sound map
    • 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.
    • All maps should include a scale bar, north arrow, and legend.
    • Be sure to add the appropriate captions in the report instead of a map title.
    • Remember, the use of predesigned maps, such as Esri Basemaps, are not allowed.
  • Conclusion
  • References (A minimum of two academic journal or news articles referenced using APA formatting guidelines)

Students that do not meet the minimum requirements will receive a 0 for the Final Project and risk failing the course.

Students may be tempted to submit a final project that does not meet the minimum requirements or that only meets the minimum requirements by a narrow margin.  By not meeting the requirements or by skimming the bottom edge of the word count, students risk failing the course.

To remedy this, students should always expand upon their thoughts and ideas to exceed the minimum word count by a considerable safety margin. Double check to make sure all of the necessary sections and section content is included in the report.

For more information, review the section Submit More than the Minimum Work to Get an A under Keys to Sucess.

Explanation of Report Sections

Title Page

Include a descriptive title, your name, course name, and date.


The goal of the abstract is to provide a short summary of the entire paper in roughly one paragraph. A good strategy is to use the first few sentences of each section (introduction, results, methods, conclusion). Combine them together to create a snapshot of the paper.


The goal of the introduction is to present an overview of your project. Your reader should be able to understand the context of your project in terms of the problem it addresses or the questions it is trying to answer. It is in this section where you will provide the reader with the background information about the topic, including information garnered from your academic journal articles or news articles.

It may be helpful to start your introduction in very broad terms about the topic. Then in each following paragraph, you can begin to narrow it down to more specific information about your project. Finally, you want to be sure that you clearly state the problem or the question you are trying to answer.


Your methods section should only be a brief summary written in general terms. Your methods might describe the following details:

  • Decisions on planning your project and gathering data
  • An explanation of analysis methods used to get the results
  • An explanation of cartographic communication and design choices
  • Any other documentation that is relevant to the project methods

Your methods should be written in a narrative format. Therefore, your methods should not contain a laundry list of left and right mouse clicks, button clicks, or any other software specific language.

For example, suppose you were writing this report for your employer, who is not trained in Geospatial Science. and knew nothing about the software. They will not need to know all of the exact steps you used in the ArcGIS software, but you should be able to communicate the general idea of what type of analysis was performed.


The results section is where you should place your final output. You should write one or two opening paragraphs that summarize or explain the results of the assignment in your own words. It is not enough to only place maps, tables, and charts without a thoughtful and well-written explanation.

The focus of the results should be a map that you create. Students are required to use the cartographic conventions and techniques presented in Geospatial Concepts (GSP101) Chapter 2: Communication and Design. You should include at least the minimum map elements, such as a north arrow, a scale bar, and a legend.

The map should be included as a figure in the report and students should design final project maps with this purpose in mind. Maps should be designed to fit within the lab report, typically 6×6 inches. Maps should not be created larger and then scaled down to fit. For more complicated projects, multiple maps may be necessary to show the results.

The map title should be located under the map figure as a caption. Any descriptive text should fall outside of the map placed into the results section of the report, above and below the map. Maps designed for a larger size and then scaled down to fit into the report will incur a severe penalty. Be sure to design your map using the destination size in mind.


The discussion section should summarize the goals, methods, and results of the final project. It is in this section you will also write your opinions on the results of the project as well as any potential next steps to continue or to improve upon the project in the future.


Most of your references should be mentioned in the introduction section.  Include a brief discussion about your academic journal sources or news articles in your introduction section.

You should use a minimum of two references. They do not have to be specific to geospatial science but should be related to your topic of interest. Cite your references in this section using APA formatting guidelines).

Final Project Samples

Below are some work samples completed by previous students. Reviewing work samples helps students to understand the scope, length, and quality of work related to final projects.

Note: The examples below are not intended to represent the specific requirements or instructions for the final project. Final project instructions and requirements may change over time. Always refer to the instructions in Canvas when determining the requirements for any assignment.

Student Sample-GSP 270 Final Project Report