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Ethics & Applications of Geospatial Technologies

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Finding Relevant Geospatial Academic Literature

If you are contemplating starting work on a new research project it is critically important that you conduct a thorough review of relevant academic literature in order to develop an understanding of the current state of research on that topic. This literature review process will allow you to determine which methods other researchers have found effective, what conclusions have already been reached, what subjects of investigation have been deemed particular important by other researchers in your field, etc. It will also allow you to provide much needed context for your research and justification for your selected methods when you present it to others at conferences or in academic journals. The literature review process should be taken seriously because missing even just a few relevant journal articles could seriously impact the success of your research. This is especially true in cases where you are basing your methodology on the work that other researchers have successfully carried out - if you do not conduct a thorough search to find the most recently published information on your topic you may end up relying on older sources and selecting methods for your own research based on now obsolete technology.

To give a geospatial example: if you are planning on collecting aerial imagery using a UAV as part of your research and you rely on information from journal articles published in 2013 and 2014 to develop your methodology, you might determine that conducting manual flights over your study area to collect data is a good approach. This was a good approach at that time given the state of UAV technology, but such a methodology would now be considered sub-optimal in most situations. Newer UAV technology that has been incorporated into the methodologies of more recently published studies is far superior to that used in research conducted in 2013 or 2014 and allows for more accurate acquisition of aerial imagery using custom programmed flights controlled with software instead of flights manually controlled by a researcher. Thus it is important to consult the most recently published relevant academic material you can find on your subject in order to ensure that the methodology you develop is based on current practice in your area of research.

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