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Ambiguous Geographies: New paper shows why case study geography is so important

Published on 2016/04/12, by in Recent News.

One major discovery of the GLOBE project is that published geographic descriptions of case study research sites are commonly vague and ambiguous, making it difficult to reuse these studies in global and regional synthesis research.

Now, we demonstrate this in a new paper using analyses based on GLOBE’s case quality scores in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers (in print in Issue 3 this May).

We systematically assessed the degree to which the quality of geographic description in published land change case studies limits their effective reuse in global and regional syntheses based on 437 spatially bounded cases derived from 261 case studies. The full collection of studies examined in the paper can be found online in the GLOBE system. Additionally, all of the papers were derived from eight meta-studies also available as individual collections in the GLOBE system.

Ambiguous geographies impede synthesis research and the reuse of spatially explicit knowledge. 

The paper examines common geographic ambiguities in the reporting and presentation of spatially explicit case studies. Based on our findings, we make simple, effective recommendations for how to avoid such ambiguities for the benefit of both case study and synthesis researchers.

One of the key findings of the research was that even explicitly spatial disciplines like geography suffer from relatively low quality reporting of case study geographies. Additionally, we found no indication that the quality of geographic reporting of case studies had improved over time across all studies examine, even with the development of free, easy to use geographic tools like Google Earth.

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Article Citation: 

Jared D. Margulies, Nicholas R. Magliocca, Matthew D. Schmill & Erle C. Ellis (2016): Ambiguous Geographies: Connecting Case Study Knowledge with Global Change Science, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2016.1142857 [view pdfview @ResearchGate

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