GEO 565
Term Paper/Project Descriptions

Required for GEO 565 students - choose 1 of 3 options

Please select your option and tentative topic by
Tuesday, April 12th.

Option 1 - Annotated Bibliography

Your mission is to prepare an annotated bibliography for an application of GIS that interests you or will be the focus of your thesis or dissertation. This will provide for you a gateway into the rigorous, peer-reviewed literature, if any, on your topic. If appropriate and germane to your topic, your sources may also include thesis/dissertations, technical reports, even web sites, as long as they are read thoroughly and annotated. Your bibliography MUST be in the form of a web page! Here is your chance to learn HTML (hypertext markup language), if you haven't already been exposed to it. The annotations in your bibliography MUST consist of short paragraphs, IN YOUR OWN WORDS, summarizing the reference, its major findings and/or conclusions, and its value to YOU in terms of your own research or interest. One-line statements about each article are NOT acceptable. The idea is to show that you have read and tried to understand the article (in other words, that you have done some work beyond simply trying to find it). You should search for journal articles, books, reports, etc. using, for starters, the library's Oasis, GeoRef GeoBase, and NET journal databases. In addition, try these helpful resources:

The Library Research Process: A Tutorial

ESRI Online GIS Library

Spatial Odyssey: U. of Maine GIS Literature Database

There are also many, many articles that appear in their entirety on the web. Note that your annotated bibliography should NOT consist merely of a list of links to web sites of companies, research laboratories, etc., as that is not really an annotated bibliography is it? And please don't confuse the fact that your bibliography must be presented as a web page with the idea that all the references in your bibliography must be web links! That is not really the idea. Your bibliography will most likely contain references to hardcopy materials (journal articles, books, etc.). The only difference is that you are turning in your bibliography as a web page rather than hardcopy. If you find complete articles on the web you may link to them, but your citations must still include an annotation. If you find interesting web sites, again, you may link to them but your citations must STILL include an annotation. Here is an example of a great annotated bibliography that was prepared during a previous class:

GIS and Disease Mapping

See also

Please follow a similar annotation format for your web page! You should find and annotate AT LEAST 15 references. For most topics you SHOULD be able to find and READ many MORE than 15, so please don't limit yourself to 15 "just to get by." The minimum is set at 15 mainly in case there is a topic that a student might choose that is still difficult to find references for (such as extraterrestrial GIS!). The general idea is find as many references as possible during the term that will be the most helpful to YOUR graduate research or interests.

I am NOT enforcing any standards for web page design, as some are better at HTML than others, and students are choosing a very broad range of topics. You are also allowed to use HTML/web page "helpers" such as or Google Sites. The general idea is to learn how to get your annotations up on the web as a gateway to learning how to be a skillfull "citizen of the Internet."

Please DO make sure that you include the course number and name (GEO 565, Geographic Information Systems & Science), as well as YOUR name, linked with a "mailto:" tag or equivalent to your email address or to an email web form somewhere on your web page, so that visitors can send you helpful comments on the page. Here is an HTML mailto tag:

< a href="mailto:your email address" >Your name < /a >

Your mission will NOT be complete until you send an email to the GEO 565 instructor with the URL (i.e., web address) of your final web page or site. When you send the email with your URL, please consider using your ONID or other OSU email account to send that very important message! Students should be aware that email from their personal gmail, hotmail, yahoo, msn, juno, or other such ".com" or ".net" accounts may not always reach professors due to the various spam filters that are in place on OSU servers all over campus. Spam has been a tremendously sticky problem on university campuses, but now spam filters have in their own way become problematic too. You can circumvent this by always using your ONID account to send an important message to a professor. Every single OSU student has a safe and secure ONID account.

Need help with web page creation or uploading your page to a server? Have no fear, click here! (

At some point, you should consider developing your own home page (if you haven't done so already) that includes links to your resume/CV and your GEO 565 project. Home page design and creation is not only TONS of fun, but potential employers or major professors may be favorably impressed with a well-designed page that demonstrates your skills and talents.


Option 2 - Term Paper

I'm flexible on the subject matter of the paper, but it needs to look at one or more of the following:

Minimum acceptable length is 20 pages (double-spaced) INCLUDING figures and references. Please DO include page numbers!!! Please turn in your paper as an MS-Word email attachment instead of hardcopy. Please use MS-Word only so that the instructor can use Track Changes to insert any comments.

SPECIFY and follow a scholarly journal format (follow the "Instructions to Contributors" or "Instructions to Authors" for that particular journal).

Indeed, please write your paper in a scientific report format, using objective language (i.e., not in the first person, which is generally unacceptable for professional scientific report writing or scholarly publication).

Please specify key words!

Please be careful when tempted to cite something from Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not a properly authoritative academic reference, on par with peer-reviewed journal articles, books, technical reports or the like. Therefore, in the words of the eminent professor of English, Alan Liu of UCSB: "It should never be used as the primary source for anything that is central to an argument, complex or controversial. Wikipedia citation[s] can be an appropriate convenience when the point being supported is minor, non-controversial, or also supported by other evidence. In addition, Wikipedia is an appropriate source for some extremely recent topics (especially in popular culture or technology), for which it provides the sole or best available synthetic, analytical, or historical discussion." [cf] If you MUST cite Wikipedia, you should cite not only the URL, but the date and local time at which you accessed the URL, because Wikipedia entries are constantly being changed.

Points will be subtracted if the above specifications are not followed.

This web site may also be of help: The Library Research Process: A Tutorial (


Option 3 - Original Mapping Mashup

Mashups are growing exponentially on the web and could be a big part of the future of GIS and of many forms of geographically-referenced data. A "mashup" is essentially the merging of services and content from multiple web sites in an integrated, coherent, and useful way. An example of a simple but effective mashup is Walk Score ( that allows users to calculate the "walkability" of their neighborhoods while also receiving a listing of the closest businesses in a variety of categories.

Mapping mashups integrate GIS data and GIS web services from multiple sources and are moving toward the implementation of simple spatial analysis over the web, such as site suitability, optimal routing, or other forms decision-making. Option 3 involves the creation of an original mapping mashup, which must be posted on the web, and fully documented as to its purpose and usefulness (i.e., what problem did it address and how?), the web technologies used, and all the steps taken to implement the technologies. The mashup must integrate at least THREE data sets and/or data services.

Hence, this option is for the more experienced student who is also well-versed in the technologies of Web 2.0. You need not have created a mashup before, but you DO need to be a very "quick study" in terms of learning simple scripting of APIs (application programming interfaces) and about other aspects of the "programmable web." This option also REQUIRES that, prior to taking GEO 565, you have had previous coursework in GIS and cartography, or previous experience through a GIS internship or GIS-related employment.

Please DO NOT choose this option if what you are after is just getting hands-on experience with GIS. That misses the point of this option as ALL students in the course will be gaining hands-on experience with GIS via the labs. So, in a nutshell, this option will NOT be be approved if you:

  1. have NOT had any prior experience with GIS and do not already feel very comfortable with a GIS of your choice
  2. just want to gather and compile data but are NOT able to propose what you might do WITH the data.

You must STILL complete Labs 1-6 in the course, along with completing this Option 3 project.

Step 1: Submit a Proposal and Gain Approval

If you choose this option, you must email a project proposal to the GEO 565 instructor by January 18th. The proposal (at least 1 page in length) MUST include the following details in order to be accepted:
  1. Your name, department and email address
  2. Your previous experience with GIS (previous GIS and/or cartography coursework?, previous GIS experience during an internship or job?) Your proposal will not be accepted without previous GIS or cartographic experience.
  3. The question or problem that you would like to address with your mashup.
  4. The tentative or expected data sources and services that you'd like to integrate together.
  5. The associated analysis task(s) that you'd like to employ to solve the problem (e.g., querying, address matching, identifying features, routing, overlay or other forms of geoprocessing?).

Please note that you will still be expected to complete Labs 1-6 in order to refresh yourself on necessary skills and perspectives.

Here are some examples of effective mapping mashups, most of them the work of students in an Urban and Regional Planning course taught by David Hart of the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute (and many thanks to him for his overall assistance):

Step 2: Open a Word Press Account

You will use WordPress to showcase and document your original mashup upon completion. Open a WordPress account ( and send the GEO 565 instructor the user name and email address you used to open the account. You will then be added as a user to the blog at, where you will be able to login and post your final project.

Step 3: Learn About Mashup Technologies and Approaches, and Create an Original One of Your Own

At the outset, please consider studying these highly-recommend introductory resources. Next, here are some helpful links on technologies and approaches (compilation courtesy of David Hart, University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute) to give you some ideas as you build your mashup.

Mashup Technologies

Mashup Development Resources Online Data Sources Helpful Blogs

Step 4: What to Turn In

Prepare and upload a WordPress blog page that includes the following:
  1. A summary graphic of your mashup that links to the actual mashup.

  2. A brief introduction to the purpose of your mashup, including a statement of the problem you are trying to solve or question that you are asking, and why.

  3. A description of the data sources and/or data services used (minimum of THREE).

  4. A full description/documentation of the technologies used, including a step-by-step listing of the approaches you employed (not unlike a written tutorial). Possible technologies that could be covered in your documentation include:

  5. A discussion of any caveats pertaining to quality, accuracy, or error in any of the data sets or web services used. For instance, one could mention that the mashup does not include important variables such as land ownership, ecosystem health, presence/absence of endangered species, etc., because they were not available or at sufficient quality, but would still be important additional considerations in solving the problem or making a decision.

  6. Please write your blog entry in a scientific report format, using objective language (i.e., not in the first person, which is generally unacceptable for professional scientific report writing or scholarly publication).

  7. Once again, your blog entry must be fully completed and uploaded by 4:00 p.m., Pacific Time, Wednesday, March 16th.

Tips on Obtaining Your Own Data (for Mashups or Otherwise)

How to Download Data

Information on Various GIS Formats

Properly Citing ESRI Data and Software

Some useful sites for high-quality, free GIS data include:

Oregon Explorer -

OSU GIS Data Page -

City of Corvallis' archive of ArcGIS data available via ftp from .

USGS Geographic Data

30-m USGS DEMs for Oregon
10-m DEMs for Oregon
Background on DEMs

DataBasin - Conservation Biology Institute here in Corvallis

CIESIN Gridded Population of the World - Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network -

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Data Resources -
Soil Survery Geographic (SSURGO) Database -, for various aspects of landscape-scale environmental assessment

EPA Data (Oregon is in Region 10)

Courtesy of members of the Society for Conservation GIS listserv:
Atlas of the Biosphere
WWF World Ecoregions and many other environmental-related data on the FAO GeoNetwork
NASA Earth Observations Data
World Database on Protected Areas
Global landcover of woody vegetation, herbaceous vegetation, and bare ground (derived from MODIS data, 250-m pixels)
Global Climate Data


Last updated: April 10, 2011

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