The intent of Research Methods in Geography is to provide a foundation for geography students, beginning with the big picture, moving through methodology, and fi nally introducing a number of commonly used methods in data collection and analysis. Research Methods in Geography therefore covers theory while providing a solid basis for engaging in concrete research activities.
For much of the twentieth century, as geographers ’ concerns ranged over contemporary physical and human space and into their past arrangements in so far as they could be documented, the methods they used to explain, model, and predict different aspects of the human and physical worlds became progressively more quantitative. But the new technologies and theoretical perspectives that emerged in the latter decades of the twentieth century helped to redefi ne the objects of geographers ’ inquiry and extend the methods in use for collecting and analyzing data and evaluating research.
They also raised concern about the criteria, norms, and values for human action and conduct (ethics); how we position ourselves and are positioned by others (positionality); and the relationship we, as researchers, have with the world (refl exivity). In physical geography, data availability increased dramatically after Earth observation satellites were launched in the 1970s. At about the same time some human geographers began to seek alternatives to using spatial analytic (that is, quantitative, objective, and scientifi c) methods to explain, represent, and understand human actions and landscapes.
Among the enduring approaches developed since the 1970s are humanistic, Marxist, feminist, and poststructuralist geography. Nevertheless, for many students research methods remain grounded in the traditional canons of spatial analysis and quantitative techniques, and methods instruction are, we feel, too often structured according to the prevailing divisions between human and physical geography.
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