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I. Research Fundamentals. I. Research Fundamentals (cont.). Q: Which of the following is a researcher?. I. Research Fundamentals (cont.). A: All of them! A researcher is someone who has learned not only how to find information, but how to evaluate it, and report it clearly and accurately.

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Q which of the following is a researcher

I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

Q: Which of the following is a researcher?

I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

A: All of them! A researcher is someone who has learned not only how to find information, but how to evaluate it, and report it clearly and accurately.

What is research

I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

What is research?

  • Broadly:

    • Gathering information to answer a question that solves a problem

    • Helps us break free from ignorance, prejudice, and the many half-baked ideas that are floating around our civil discourse

    • New knowledge, discoveries

What s the advantage for you

I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

What’s the advantage for you?

  • Helps you interpret what you read

    • Facts versus interpretation of facts

  • Accurately judge the research of others

    • Must experience the messy and difficult reality of doing research before you can judge the quality of other research

      • Assumptions

      • Limitations

  • I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Research = new knowledge

    • Depends on what questions you ask

    • Your assumptions may influence the type of questions you might ask

      • For example, the nature of poverty

        • People’s own fault or a structural reality of capitalism

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Knowledge is dependent upon

    • Quality of research

    • Accuracy of reporting

    Reality of research

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Reality of Research

    • Not like learning to ride a bike!

      • Challenging, but rewarding

        • Basic principles remain the same

          • Careful, accurate, and honest

        • Constantly rethink how you do it

          • Follows a crooked path

            • Unexpected turns

            • Blind alleys

    Geographical research

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Geographical Research

    • Geography: The science of space and place at/near the earth’s surface

      • Most geographical research problems address in some fashion

        • Variations over space

        • Places

          • Characteristics

          • Human/environment interaction

    Theme 1 location

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Theme 1: Location

    • Absolute and relative location

    • Site

    • Situation

    • Cognitive (mental mapping)

    Theme 2 place

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Theme 2: Place

    • Places

    • Characteristics

      • That give meaning and character and which distinguish them from other places on earth

    • Interdependence

    • Sites of innovation

    • Sites of resistance

    Theme 3 human environment interaction

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Theme 3: Human/environment interaction

    • Means different things to different people

      • Dependent upon

        • Cultural backgrounds

        • Technological resources

      • Examine effects

        • Positive and negative interaction

    Theme 4 movement

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Theme 4: Movement

    • People interact with other people, places, and things

      • Complementarity

      • Transferability

      • Intervening opportunity

      • Spatial diffusion

    Theme 5 regions

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Theme 5: Regions

    • Formal and functional

      • Defined by certain unifying characteristics

      • How do regions change over time?

      • Landscapes

        • Cultural, symbolic

          • Sense of place

      • Globalization and regions/places

    Theme 6 scale
    Theme 6: Scale

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)


    • Scale

      • Local, regional, national, global

      • Materialization of real-world processes

        • The tangible partitioning of space within which life occurs

    Examples of basic geographic questions slater 1982

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Examples of basic geographic questions (Slater, 1982)

    • Where is it?

    • Where does it occur?

    • What is there?

    • Why is it there?

    • Why is it not elsewhere?

    • What could be there?

    • Could it be elsewhere?

    • How much is there at that location?

    • Why is it there rather than anywhere else?

    • How far does it extend already?

    • Why does it take a particular form or structure that it has?

    • Is there regularity in its distribution?

    • What is the nature of that regularity?

    • Why should the spatial distributional pattern exhibit regularity?

    • Where is it in relation to others of the same kind?

    • What kind of distribution does it make?

    • Is it found throughout the world?

    • Is it universal?

    Examples of basic geographic questions cont

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Examples of basic geographic questions (cont.)

    • Where are its limits?

    • What are the nature of those limits?

    • Why do those limits constrain its distribution?

    • What else is there spatially associated with that phenomenon?

    • Do these things usually occur together in the same places?

    • Why should they be spatially associated?

    • Is it linked to other things?

    • Has it always been there?

    • When did it first emerge or become obvious?

    • How has it changed spatially (through time)?

    • What factors have influenced its spread?

    • Why has it spread or diffused in this particular way?

    • What geographic factors have constrained its spread?


    Starting your project

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Starting Your Project

    • How do I begin?

      • What aspect(s) of geography do you find interesting?

        • Human geography?

        • Physical geography?

        • Which courses did you like the most?

        • Which subjects in those courses did you like the most?

        • What aspects of those subjects did you find intriguing?

    Starting your project cont

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Starting Your Project (cont.)

    • What would you like to know more about?

    • Where would you like to contribute knowledge?

    • Is there a problem you would like to solve?

    Okay i have an idea what s next

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Okay, I have an idea. What’s next?

    • Tell me your idea (tentative topic)

      • Sooner rather than later

      • Develop it during the semester

      • Keep me posted of developments

    Okay i have an idea what s next cont

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Okay, I have an idea. What’s next? (cont.)

    • Discuss/refine your idea by meeting with

      • your geography professors

        • They want to help you!

        • www.geography.unt.edu

    • Devise a research plan!

      • Often starts out as a skeleton structure

      • Sometimes an idea in your head

      • Be flexible, expect change

    Okay i have an idea what s next cont1

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Okay, I have an idea. What’s next? (cont.)

    • Keep in mind the end product, a formal written research proposal (prospectus):

      • Title (describes the work area)

      • Introduction and problem statement

        • What the work is about

        • Motivation

        • Research question

        • Objective(s)

      • Background/literature review (related work and results)

      • Methods (data collection, steps to address problem)

      • Conclusions (expected benefits, outcomes, deliverables)

      • References

    • http://search.proquest.com/pqdtft/index

    Okay i have an idea what s next cont2

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Okay, I have an idea. What’s next? (cont.)

    • www.geog.unt.edu/~hudak/res-pro.doc

    Who are you writing for

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Who are you writing for?

    • You have to know this before you begin!

      • The audience for a prospectus is the reader who will determine whether or not the research project should be undertaken

        • Examples: professor, research committee, graduate degree committee, funding agency, company management, government agency

    • You adopt the role of someone who knows, and the reader needs to know

    Who are you writing for cont

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Who are you writing for? (cont.)

    • Help us understand something better than our current understanding

      • Be objective, rigorous, logical

      • Provide supporting evidence, describe how you collect it

      • Use accurate terminology and reliable sources

      • Don’t inundate us with facts

  • May help solve concrete problems

  • Reasons for writing a research prospectus

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Reasons for writing a research prospectus

    • To remember or clarify information you might otherwise forget or confuse

      • Take notes (and references, including page numbers) when you are gathering information

    • To understand

      • To see the larger picture

        • When you arrange and rearrange your arguments, results, literature, and so on, you are constructing a logical argument that makes sense in your mind

    Reasons for writing a research prospectus cont

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Reasons for writing a research prospectus (cont.)

    • To test your thinking

      • Most of us believe our ideas are more compelling in the dark of our minds than they turn out to be in the cold light of print

    • Ultimately, to share it with others, such as funding agencies

      • Pertinent to most geography careers

    Writing formally

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Writing formally

    • The formal rules of writing research proposals/reports exist for a reason:

      • They help us to think more clearly about our own work and the work of others, and they embody the shared values of a research community

      • Hard to learn at first, but ultimately frees your mind to think in a greater number of ways

        • Makes your writing clearer

          • Have I evaluated my evidence?

          • Why do I think this data/argument/statistical technique is relevant?

          • What ideas have I considered but rejected and why?

          • Why did I choose this framework?

    Some writing tips

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Some writing tips

    • Convey interest, relevance

    • Be objective

    • Use small words

    • Avoid fancy words

    • No typos, grammatical problems, or spelling errors

    • Avoid redundant sentence structure

    • Avoid excessive use of acronyms

    Some writing tips cont

    I. Research Fundamentals (cont.)

    Some writing tips (cont.)

    • Avoid lengthy equations without explanatory text

    • Avoid offensive language

    • Write in small sentences, be clear and concise

    • Write in small paragraphs, but more than one sentence per paragraph

    • Generally, a paragraph contains at most one idea or one piece of an idea

    • If you don’t understand what you have written, nobody else will either

    • Think about what you are saying

      • It can sound fancy and still be nonsense!

      • Read what you have actually written, not what you think you have written!

    Example Research Projects (cont.)

    1. Student examples









    Example Research Projects (cont.)

    2. Water resources in rural Jamaica


    Example Research Projects (cont.)

    3. Irrigation ponds in central Bolivia


    Example Research Projects (cont.)

    4. Constructed wetlands in Grand Prairie


    Example Research Projects (cont.)

    5. Environmental effects of illegal immigration in southern California


    Example Research Projects (cont.)

    6. Groundwater impacts of oil/gas wells in southeastern Texas


    Example Research Projects (cont.)

    7. Tornado risk in Texas


    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Find a topic that is doable

    • Question that topic until you find a question that catches your interest

      • And is answerable!

      • And has not already been addressed in the literature

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Figure out what evidence you will need to support your answer

      • If the evidence points in this direction, then it means…

      • If the evidence points in another direction, then it means…

    • Determine where you can find those data

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • List topics that interest you

      • Go to the library, www.library.unt.edu

        • Read scientific journals

          • Progress in Human Geography

          • Progress in Physical Geography

          • http://geography.about.com/od/studygeography/a/geojournals.htm

      • Internet

        • General search engines (Google)

          • Not all sources are credible!

        • Journal search engines (Web of Science)

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Read strategically!

      • Skim, skim, skim (titles, abstracts) until you find a good piece of work that interests you

        • Then read a little more slowly (and take notes)

        • Ask yourself, “How can this article help me develop my research proposal?”

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • A topic is too broad if you can say it in four or five words!

      • Bad examples: climate change, sustainable development, urbanization

      • Better examples:

        • Conflict between economic development and green space preservation in Dallas

        • An analysis of pollen in lake sediment in Lake Superior over the last 5,000 years

        • The role of variation in land prices and the extent of urban sprawl in cities in the American Southwest: A case study of Tucson

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Use “action words” (nouns derived from verbs expressing actions or relationships)

      • Conflict

      • Description

      • Contribution

      • Developing

      • Changed

      • Role of

      • Impact of

      • Causes of

      • Influence of

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Develop a specific (focused) question with at least one action word

      • No specific question = no specific answer

      • What, where, and how

        • Particularly how

          • How did this particular geographic phenomenon come into place?

          • How has this place, phenomenon changed over time?

            • Role of rail transportation in emergence and growth of the U.S. system of cities in the 19th century

            • Role of the Internet in the diffusion of branch plant manufacturing or financial services

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Consider the relationship between your specific question and wider society

      • Role of rail transportation in emergence and growth of the U.S. system of cities in the 19th century

        • Via a case study of the Union Pacific Railroad expansion between 1850 and 1880 in the American Southwest

      • How is your topic grouped into kinds (regions)?

        • What is the extent of the Mormon cultural region?

          • To what extent is the Mormon cultural region expanding in Northern Arizona?

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Ask questions derived from the literature

      • Determine what issues are being debated

      • Many articles finish with a paragraph or two on “future questions”

      • Many literature reviews will highlight areas of contention

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Evaluate your questions

      • Avoid:

        • Questions that can be answered by simply looking up information on settled facts

          • Did railroads have an impact on settlement hierarchy in the 19th century?

      • Questions where the answers would be purely speculative

        • How did 19th century farmers in the southwest perceive urbanization in the northeast?

    • Questions where the answers are dead ends

      • How many cats slept in barns as opposed to in farm houses in 19th century U.S.?

  • Questions you aren’t qualified to answer, or that can’t be answered in timely fashion with available resources

  • II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Consider the boundaries of your study area

      • Spatial and temporal dimensions

      • Political versus physical boundaries

      • Level of detail

        • A smaller study area affords more detail (for example, a watershed)

        • A larger study area dictates less detail (for example, a continent)

      • Consider logistics, advantages of “nearby” study area

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Ask yourself why your study is important

      • Curiosity, well okay for a start

      • How can it advance knowledge or benefit society?

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    • Test possible topics:

      • Step 1. Name your topic

        • I am trying to learn about (working on, studying)...

      • Step 2. Add an indirect question

        • Because I want to find out who/what/where/when/why...

      • Step 3. Answer, “So what?”

        • In order to help my reader understand...

    Exercise 1 problem statement and methods outline

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Exercise 1. Problem Statement and Methods Outline

    • Write a one-page introduction to your research problem. This statement should describe what you are researching and its significance. The statement should be well written, clear, and concise. It should also include four to six references that motivate your study.

    • On a second page, outline the methodology you have in mind. State exactly what kinds of data you will collect and how the data will be analyzed.

    • You may revise your problem statement and methods in your prospectus.

    Pure and applied research

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Pure and applied research

    • Pure:

      • When the solution to a problem does not bear on any practical situation in the world

        • Only improves the understanding of a community of researchers

    • Applied:

      • When the solution to a problem has practical consequences for society

    Browsing sources

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Browsing sources

    • Familiarity with pertinent literature is very important

      • Don’t “reinvent the wheel”

    • Use reliable sources, especially scientific journal articles

      • Having undergone peer review

    • Use current sources

    • Have a search plan

      • Keyword searches on a journal search engine (Ingenta)

      • Keyword searches on the Internet (consider reliability)

      • Keyword searches at www.library.unt.edu (books, monographs, government documents)

      • Personal communication with experts (use sparingly)

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Browsing sources (cont.)

    • Scan for relevance, continue reading as appropriate

      • Be selective

      • Do not download/copy every article that seems remotely related to your topic and plan on reading it later

      • Make good use of figures and tables

    Using sources

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Using sources

    • To spark an interest

    • To establish what related work has already been done (literature review)

    • To find a gap in the literature (that motivates your study)

    • To find a weakness/problem (perhaps an oversimplification, misinterpretation, or flawed argument) that motivates your study

    Using sources cont

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Using sources (cont.)

    • To support your proposed method(s)

      • Using a well-established statistical test or GIS routine

    • To access data that you will analyze

      • Consider reliability

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Using sources (cont.)

    • Record complete bibliographical data

      • Author

      • Title

      • Editors

      • Edition

      • Volume

      • Place published

      • Publisher

      • Date published

      • Page numbers

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Using sources (cont.)

    • Cite last name(s), year of publication in text; put complete citation in reference section

      • Use PG format: www.geog.unt.edu/~hudak/pg-styl.pdf

    • Generally, paraphrase rather than quote verbatim

      • Quotation marks around direct quotes

      • Be careful about how you state what an author argued or concluded (scope and confidence)

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Using sources (cont.)

    • Do not rely too heavily on one source

      • Provide balance, especially for contentious subjects

    • Use primary (original) versus secondary sources

    • Read useful sources more carefully and take notes (annotations)

    Exercise 2 complete reference list

    II. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (cont.)

    Exercise 2. Complete reference list

    • Provide a list of references you plan on citing in your prospectus. For each reference, indicate the section(s) of the prospectus to which it likely applies:

      • Introduction (motivates your study)

      • Background (previous work of general importance)

      • Methods (established methodology that you will utilize)

    • Your list should follow PG format and include at least 20 entries, of which at least 15 should be journal articles.

    III. Making Good Arguments (cont.)

    • Often made in results/discussion section of a research report (journal article)

    • Although you aren’t writing a research report, in your proposal you have an opportunity to argue

      • Gaps in literature

      • Significance of problem

      • Viability of your approach

      • Significance of preliminary results (if any) or expected outcomes

        • Preliminary results may strengthen the prospectus

    III. Making Good Arguments (cont.)

    • Stay organized, maintain a logical flow with supporting evidence (facts, data)

    • It’s like a conversation

      • Imagine your reader asking questions and posing alternative explanations

        • Other causes

        • Counter-examples

        • Other definitions

      • Acknowledge alternatives and respond to them

    III. Making Good Arguments (cont.)

    • Have a tentative answer (hypothesis) to your research question as you proceed, but be open and objective

    • Acknowledge limitations of your argument

      • Demonstrates openness and honesty

    • Report evidence accurately

    • Provide sufficient, representative evidence

    • Be as precise as possible

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)


    • No single drafting approach suits everyone, but it’s practically impossible to do it in one iteration

    • Get your ideas on paper (or the computer), even if in rough form

    • Break it into sections and assemble phrases in each section (outlining)

      • Introduction

      • Background

      • Methods

      • Conclusions

      • References

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Drafting (cont.)

    • Try an iterative approach; in each iteration, fine-tune some aspect of the document

    • Think like the reader as you work toward a final draft

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Drafting (cont.)

    • Data are the key element of a research project

      • You may collect your own data, or get it from an existing source (such as a government agency)

      • Collecting your own data often takes more time, effort, and resources, but you have more quality control and are generating new information (that ultimately should be available to the scientific community)

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Drafting (cont.)

    • Data often portrayed in tables and figures (maps, photographs, charts, plots)

      • Base maps portray limits of study area

        • Topographic, political, aerial photos, satellite imagery

        • Scale and north arrow

      • Short captions for tables and figures

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Drafting (cont.)

    • Large fonts, concise (avoid irrelevant information)

    • Tables when precise numbers are important; figures to show summaries or trends

    • In the text, let the reader know what to look for in the table or figure

    Examples of tables and figures

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Examples of tables and figures

    Drafting (cont.)

    • www.geog.unt.edu/~hudak/ex-immi.pdf


    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)


    • At universities or other large organizations, research projects often require approval from an institutional review board, especially when working with animals or humans (including survey research)

      • http://research.unt.edu/faculty-resources/research-integrity-and-compliance/use-of-humans-in-research

    • In this class you aren’t completing a project, but proposing one


    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)


    • Projects may involve surveys; low response rate is an important consideration

      • Dillman method for mail survey’s achieves high response rates (~80%)

      • Convince people that a problem exists, that is important to them, and that their help is needed to find a solution

      • Send a personalized, advance-notice letter informing them that they will be receiving a questionnaire and identifying the purpose and importance of the survey

      • Approximately one week later, send a cover letter with instructions, the questionnaire with return postage, and a postcard with return postage to verify their reply and request a summary of results

      • Approximately one week later, send a follow-up postcard to all members, thanking those who already responded and requesting a response from those who have not responded

      • Approximately two weeks later, send a cover letter, questionnaire, and return postcard to those who have not responded

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Methods (cont.)


    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Methods (cont.)

    • Representative sample of population

      • As many as possible given available resources

      • Case-specific (review your GEOG 3190 notes)

      • Very generally, at least 30 observations

        • If the population is less than 30, use all of it

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Methods (cont.)

    • Different sampling strategies

      • Random

        • Each individual (object, household, person) has equal chance of being selected; assign # to each member and use random number table

          • http://www.random.org/sequences/

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Methods (cont.)

    • Stratified random

      • Break list into subsets on basis of some characteristic

      • Same proportion for each subset, or use disproportionate if some subset(s) more important

    • Cluster area

      • Avoid all samples from one small area

      • Each subunit of geographic region drawn randomly

      • All observations used in each subunit

    IV. Drafting and Methods (cont.)

    Methods (cont.)

    • Okay to interpret data visually

    • But also apply quantitative measures, statistical tests for objectivity

    V. Ethics (cont.)

    • Respect opinions and rights of others

    • Don’t spread rumors or make unfounded accusations against others

    • Don’t discriminate against or harass others

    • Give credit for ideas and contributions of others

    • Be fair when evaluating the work of others

    V. Ethics (cont.)

    • Don’t plagiarize

    • Don’t distort opposing views

    • Don’t invent or fudge data

    • Don’t damage your field site or its inhabitants

    • Don’t destroy data or conceal sources

    • Do distribute copies of your report

    • Do adhere to regulations of funding agencies

    Tips for PowerPoint Presentations (cont.)

    • www.geog.unt.edu/~hudak/pptgdl.pptx

    Tips for PowerPoint Presentations (cont.)

    • Your presentation should contain only these sections

      • Project title and your name (1 text slide)

      • Introduction/problem statement (2 text slides)

      • Background/literature review (1-2 text slides)

      • Methods (1-2 text slides)

      • Conclusion (1 text slide)

    • Cite selected references (Jones, 2009) in context, but exclude a bibliography

    Tips for PowerPoint Presentations (cont.)

    • Text slides should contain bullet points and may include photos or non-distracting background

    • You should also include non-text slides, such as photos, maps, and charts

    • The total number of slides should not exceed 25

    Tips for PowerPoint Presentations (cont.)

    • Presentations should be 15 minutes, with an additional 5 minutes for questions and comments

    • Presentation grading rubric

      • www.geog.unt.edu/~hudak/prbr.docx

    • Incorporate any feedback on your presentation into your prospectus

    • www.geog.unt.edu/~hudak/examplepres.pptx