Outline for Projects

The research project in this course is an opportunity for students to use their GIS skills and knowledge to gain insight into a geographic phenomenon. In this regard, the range of topics will be broad but the methods used to gain insight into the process must draw on many of the GIS functionalities studied in this course, especially in the lab and tutorial sections.


Building on the literature exercise (ideally) you will be expected to perform some form of analysis in order to provide new insights on a given problem. For example, one can make a beautiful map based on data for bear sightings in Prince George but what would be insightful is why the sighting are in those locations and how GIS is used to come to arrive at that conclusion, or how GIS can be used to minimize those sightings. Similarly, a report with only two maps of the population density in Prince George, one for 2001 and the other for 2016 is not sufficient for this course. However, a project on the most dramatic changes in neighbourhoods based on a few variables would be interesting.

To assess your work, the following will items will be considered:

  • Sourcing/downloading the relevant data for the project (you are welcome to consult your TA about this)
  • Reprojecting the data (layers) into the same coordinate system (you can search online or discuss with your TA which coordinate system would be a good choice for your particular geographic area of interest)
  • Clipping, filtering data and/or maintaining focus on the area of interest
  • At least three analysis tools
    • e.g. Slope, intersect, buffer, reclassify
    • could also analytical steps outside of GIS functionality: e.g. ranking tabular data, visual or numerical comparison
  • Your project write-up
  • Your final map product
  • Your in-class presentation (tutorial session on Dec 6th)

If you are uncertain, please talk to your TA or me about the scope of your project (your literature review assignment will also help with this).


You will submit a written paper and the project files.

  1. Your paper should be 4-7 pages long, double-spaced. Email your paper to your TA by the deadline.
  2. Share your project files as a geopackage (or the ArcGIS project file together with the shapefiles) with the TA by the deadline. The instructions on how to do this will be provided.

Presentation of Research Project

In addition to submitting your paper, create a PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate your research project. This is a short talk or presentation of 2-3 minutes long (roughly 3-5 slides).

  • Your presentation should highlight:
    • the problem / importance of your research (the what & why)
    • the methods used (solution/analysis)
    • the results/findings (including your final map)
    • the conclusions

Paper Structure

The report on your research project should be presented as a paper with a structure that closely mirrors academic journal publications. Academic papers are usually structured around these main sections:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results and/or Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

An example of a social science approach can be gained from a journal that you, the student, are familiar with. For instance, the article; Hedonic Estimates of Lodging Rates in the Four Corners Region by Patrick J. White published in the Professional Geographer uses the layout: a description of the research preceding the paper (serves as an abstract), Introduction, Relevant Literature, The Data Set, The Analysis, Summary and Conclusions.

Any formalized format is acceptable but the paper should speak to the issues discussed in the following layout. This layout is based on the Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusion and References design, but the features from each heading can be manipulated into any form.


Brief description of the research that was done. It will give an indication of what problem was to be solved, what methods were used and an indication of results. This section should not explain why the problem was chosen, specific details of the methods or any conclusions from the results. It is intended to present a synopsis of the paper for future researchers to make use of in selecting which articles they may read.


This section needs to address a description of the problem to be solved, how it has come to be a problem and why it should be solved. It could mention who will benefit from investigating a model to solve the problem.

This section should also indicate what significant research has been done in the past in this regard (Literature Review) and what GIS methods were applied in those studies. Some journals have a separate section for Literature Review. You too can create a separate section for the literature review if you so choose.


This is focused on how you did the work.


  • Data acquisition
  • Data quality (were there any gaps in your data? Did you have to use something that was close but not quite the data you actually wanted to use?)
  • What algorithms/tools you used, what extensions were beneficial and how were they used
  • List of commands
  • Software and procedures used

This section should make use of the topics discussed and tasks undertaken in the labs and tutorials. There should be illustrations indicating the direction of your work. These could be equations, flowcharts, tables, diagrams, screenshots and so on. The methods section may also include any changes in procedures you made for repeated iterations of similar tests, or procedures of comparative tests. The methods section can make allusions to the results section to follow.


This section should contain the best representation of your results. This may be an obvious statement with respect to the section title but it can be difficult to present your results in a fashion that is not too overdrawn or not specific enough. Several smaller illustrations (maps for instance) are often used to illustrate findings or perhaps one very descriptive illustration may work best. Tables and statistics for the results would be presented here as well.


This section should provide a description as to how well the model worked: why the results are the way they are, what else can be done in the future to encourage your line of research, and what measures can be included to correct procedural and data problems encountered. Indicate where the model fails (more illustrations can be used here). This section is very important and must be included as a standalone section or its content weaved into the results section. If any parts of your project did not turn out as planned, discuss why and what happened.


This section presents the outcomes of your research project in a concise manner. If more than one approach was used then indicate which was better. The conclusion should answer all questions presented in the introduction. It states the limits of your study as well as a direction for future work in this area.

Reverences, Bibliography Literature Cited:

A list of the reference citations you used in the paper. This should be in the APA citation format style.

See here: https://libguides.unbc.ca/cite

For a quick guide see here: https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/apaquickguide/intext

Grading Rubric:

The project will be graded as follows:

  • Project complexity and scope (6 marks)
  • Write-up (10 marks)
    • Clarity of writing
    • Amount & layout of pertinent info
    • Understandable and well presented content
    • Illustration of work (maps & screenshots)
    • 1 mark each for: Abstract, Introduction, Conclusion, References
    • 2 marks each for: Methods, Results, Discussion
  • Execution of data collection and analysis (6 marks)
    • Importing appropriate data
    • Projecting all layers to a single, relevant Coordinate Reference System (we will go over this in lab in November)
    • Using at least 3 analysis techniques (see examples discussed above in the Scope section)
    • Producing final visuals (one or multiple maps) to illustrate your project
  • Presentation (3 marks)
    • 1 mark for content (discussed above in Presentation of Research Project)
    • 1 mark for visuals (slides, map(s))
    • 1 mark for delivery of the presentation

Categories: GEOG 204