Assistant Professor, Population Program
Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS)

GEOG-4173 - Undergraduate Research Seminar

This course is a seminar meant to assist students developing as researchers that is, working through the process of formulating, conducting, and reporting their own research. It will be especially helpful to students planning to write an honors thesis and/or go on to graduate school, but will also provide skills and tools for students who will conduct any other sort of research and writing. The paradigm will be that of scientific research: the formulation and testing of questions about the world that can be illuminated by collecting and analyzing data in the more rigorous fashion of scientific method.

Although we will cover some aspects of the philosophy and conduct of science, the focus of this course will not lie in them but on the mechanics of producing credible research on physical and social geographic questions both through quantitative and qualitative approaches. The emphasis will be on the "doing", from conception of a research idea and question, through the research and drafting, to final writing and oral presentation.

This class will not provide detailed instruction in specific research methods either---you must learn the research tools for, say, hydrology, demography, or political geography, in the appropriate classes. But we will examine the more general approaches to research formulation and conduct, including approaches to library resources, secondary data sources, and primary data collection, analysis and assessment, drawing conclusions, and the written, diagrammatic, and oral presentation of work.

If you have had a similar course, in research design, technical writing, etc., then this class may not be for you. However, even though you might have taken previous coursework related to the issue, a structured seminar aimed at getting a piece of research completed may be just what you need to progress on, say, an honors thesis.