A Note for Current Graduate Students

Matthew McGranaghan

Every school year starts with a rush and it is often hard to find time to meet to discuss the larger-picture as we settle into classes and the immediate demands of the days. Then time and opportunity slip away. This webpage is intended to provide a back-stop in case we have not gotten to sit and chat, and a spring-board for when we do.

The sections below are intended to help you figure-out a bit about what I think you should be doing in graduate school. Take them as starting points for discussion, or hopes for what explorations the near future will hold.

Some General Advice

  1. Pursue your degree (and the knowledge and skills it entails).
  2. Be skeptical. Do not accept or presuppose "privileged knowledge". Don't accept things on authority --- accept them (provisionally) because there is reason and evidence to do so.
  3. Strive for intellectual honesty. Don't bend observations to support your favorite notion(s).
  4. Understand the hypothetico-deductive model and its role in the creation of knowledge.
  5. Try to apply the methods of science in your own work. The multiple working hypotheses (Chamberlain) and strong-inference (Platt) notions may not always seem feasible in their strong form, but identifying alternative explanations and then planning and making the observations that can assess their consistency with our understanding does tend to advance our understanding. Carry that way of thinking into some of the more recent Bayesian statistical approaches for sorting out uncertainty about propositions and you will be well on target.
  6. Understand that advocacy is not research. Particular causes or policies may be valuable to you, and even to society, but assuming them and then arguing for them, is not research.
  7. Learn to program computers. Theses days, I suggest Python as the language to start with, though cases could be made for several alternatives. The point is to have a computational tool for exploring and thinking.
  8. Read. Start with the lists below. Augment it with materials in your interest area. Get in the habit of scanning literature for more things.
  9. Keep notes on your readings and thoughts they provoke. Use a text file, bibliographic software, 3x5 cards, loose-leaf notebooks, composition books, or some other mechanism, but keep notes to remind you of what you've read and thought. Scan back through these notes from time to time. Particularly note the questions that come to mind, and speculations on ways of answering them. Working over some of this common intellectual ground will benefit our discussions, your discussions with others, and may even be of value in preparing for things like thesis proposals and comprehensive exams.

Suggested Starting Readings for Cartography and GIS Students:

This list mixes books and articles; cartography, computing, and philosophy of science; and only loosely sorted into topical clusters. Some items are 'classics', prologs to all that follows ---providing context and perspective. Others have less sweeping importance. Consider it a starting-point for what you should be reading. You should broanch out from there.

In addition to just 'googling' topics, you might benefit from UH's on-line 'card catalog' supporting searchs by topic. It is very useful for local holdings. Try it.

And... you really should know about Duane Marble's GIS Bibliography Project, now housed by ESRI at: Bibliography . It brings together a hugh range of GIS oriented literature.

Some of the Journals you should know about:

It would be a good idea to at least scan through the contents of these (even more than the past five years!) to see what kinds of research they contain and the style of presentation they employ. It would also be a good idea to see what is in each new issue going forward.