It was a long and arduous road, but we finally made it. The “Cases Team”, as they’re called, spent the last two years contributing cases to the GLOBE database, and we’ve reached a milestone of over 800 cases!
In an effort to build valuable content for the Land Change Science (LCS) community, cases were sourced from the case-study articles used in highly-cited meta-studies in Land Change Science. A demanding process ensued that involved acquiring each case-study used in the meta-studies (in the form of journal articles, conference proceedings, and book chapters), locating any geographic information describing each case-study’s study site(s), and interpreting the intended spatial extent of the study site. Once an interpretation was agreed upon, the case-study site was geo-referenced and relevant metadata encoded into the GLOBE system to create complete case entries for each study site. Case quality scores were then assigned to systematically rate the authority of the case contributor (e.g., case-study author versus Cases Team member), clarity of the geographic description, and reliability of our interpretation of the study site.
Of course, the interpretation was the tricky part. Essentially, we were trying to connect whatever primary data was reported in the case-study to a particular spatial extent that could be digitized as a geometry in a GIS. This proved to be much more difficult than we first anticipated, because the detail and precision of geographic descriptions of study sites varied tremendously. For example, some case studies would use a combination of precise field measurements within sample plots, widely distributed household surveys, and remotely sensed land cover imagery. Which of these represents the true study site?! Given the diversity of disciplines and associated theoretical frameworks, methods, and research questions that contribute to LCS, it is not surprising that such geographic complexities are so common.
We may be the first (and last!) to systematically examine the geography of case studies in such fine detail. Thus, the construction of the GLOBE cases database provides a unique lens through which the LCS community can be viewed. The lessons we have learned are now the basis for a manuscript currently in preparation which investigates the spatial validity and reproducibility of case-study research in LCS.
The Cases Team is comprised of graduate and undergraduate students from the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and was led by Dr. Nicholas Magliocca and Jared Margulies. Current and past members of the Cases Team include: Lindsey Gordon, Christopher Zink, Gailynn Milligan, Joseph Milligan, Laureen Echiverri , Brandon Cottom, Michael Glassman, Matthew Gregory, Marissa Lenoce, and Anna Johnson.
Thanks, guys, for all of your hard work!