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Take Home Exercises
Home » People » Judd Curran » GIS » Take Home Exercises » Take Home Exercise #10



A major strength of GIS technology is the ability to collectively combine data layers, analyze them, and utilize ArcGIS tools to
create new data that will answer a question or solve a problem
.  This is the focus of your project.

Project Proposal

For the last Take Home Exercise, you will have the opportunity to develop a proposal for what you will accomplish in your final project.  The more you put into this exercise, the more
you will benefit as you begin your project later.  Answer 1-7 below and submit to your instructor before the deadline via email.  Save a copy for your own reference.

A well designed project proposal requires some creativity in envisioning a topic and developing a research direction, as well as much
thought into clearly articulating the research questions, criteria, data and analysis.  In your proposal, provide detailed explanations of each aspect of your project.  Do so, using the following
organizational framework.....

1.  Topic:  Provide the general topic of interest.  For example, "my project topic deals with the lack of accessibility to quality foods for poor neighborhoods".  Or, "my project topic deals with
     risk of loss to life and property from natural disasters".

2.  Location:  Identify the location that will be the focus of your project.  For example, will you be examining the distribution of mobile home parks in the entire state of Kentucky?  Or, are you
    focusing in on a particular county within Kentucky?  And, if so, which county specifically?  Choosing the right location for your project topic is important.  You project topic should be relevant
    in the location you choose (doing a project on the extent of glacial retreat in Florida is probably not going to work) and the scale chosen (a study focusing within a neighborhood in a city vs. the
    entire city vs. the county it is within vs. the state it is within vs. the country or continent) should not only be appropriate to the topic, but also manageable within the scope of this project.
    Provide the location of study, be specific about the extent of the area you will focus on, and provide the rationale as to why you chose this location and spatial extent.  Note:  Be flexible with
     your study location:  If you have a particular project topic and research question in mind, but you are struggling to find data for the particular location you want to study, then maybe
    switching to a location where the relevant data you need is readily accessible will solve your problem and allow you to move forward with your topic.  Even though you may not get
    your first-choice for study location, at least you are able to stick with a project that interests you.  Sometimes it is the accessibility of data that drives the direction of research to a
    particular location.

3.  Research Question:  What is the research question you will answer by doing your project?  The research question needs to be related to your topic, and should be answerable within the scope
     of your project.  You can have more than one research question.  But, keep in mind that the more questions you generate, the more work (and thus more time) will be necessary to determine
    the answers.  To be able to answer the question/s, it is important that you will have to gather data from various sources and bring it into ArcGIS, and further analyze the data and generate
    new information using the existing data and ArcGIS tools.  That is, if to answer your question/s, all you have to do is simply download data and display it in ArcMAP, then your research
    questions do not meet the requirements of the project.  For example, if your project topic is "Grocery Store Locations within the city of San Diego", and your research question is, "Where
    are the grocery stores in the city of San Diego?
", then to answer your question, all you have to do is download grocery store data (or generate the data from tables of information about the
    locations of grocery stores, or from a GPS) and display it on a map.  Subsequently, you would not have to use any GIS tools to analyze the data to generate new information necessary to
    answer the question, and therefore your research question does not meet the requirements of the project.  However, if you asked, "What location is of greatest need for a new grocery store
    in the city of San Diego?
", then further analysis of the data using ArcGIS tools would be required to generate the answer to the question, and thus this would be a suitable question based on
    the project requirements.

4.  Criteria:  The criteria more specifically define your research question.  If we take the good example of "What location is of greatest need for a new grocery store in the city of San Diego?",
    then the criteria would define specifically what it means to be a location of "greatest need" for a new grocery store.  The criteria would contain a list of things that matter in determining the
    location of greatest need, with specific thresholds defined to articulate when the criteria would be met.  For example, if on of the criteria for our example is that the new location be far away
    from existing locations, then the criteria could read specifically, "Locations of greatest need must be at least 10 miles from an existing grocery store".  Another criteria might be, "Locations of
    greatest need must be in areas where the median household income is less than $32000/yr".   You should have multiple criteria for answering your research question, and a minimum of 3
    is required.
5.  Data Availability:  What data will you need to address your research criteria to answer your question, and or to display your results.  The data you need will be spelled out once you identify
    you criteria.  In our example, you would need median household income data and existing grocery store location data to address your two criteria.  Is that data available for the area of your
    study?  Provide the specific web sources (or other sources) of each dataset that you will need, as well as the format of the data.  If it is not in an ArcGIS format, can it be converted into a
    form usable in ArcGIS easily?  If data is not available to address your criteria for your study area, there are two things you can do.  You can change your study area to a location that does
    have the data easily accessible.  Or, you can change your criteria.

6.  New Information:  Specifically, what new information will be produced in the process of completing your project that will answer your research question/s.

7.  Data Analysis:  What steps will you take with your criteria and ArcGIS tools to manipulate and analyze the data to generate new information that will answer your questions.  For your
    proposal, you can initially come up with general ideas about how you will arrive at your answer.  As you work on your project, the specific tools you will use will become more readily
    apparent.  Don't get too overwhelmed trying to figure out what specific tools you will use at this early stage of your project.  I just want you to think about it and put down some ideas.

Last Updated: 12/31/2014
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