This post is part of a series where we introduce you to the various topics that we cover in the Scholarly Commons. Maybe you’re new to the field or you’re just to the point where you’re just too afraid to ask… Fear not! We are here to take it back to the basics!
So, what is GIS, anyways?
Geographic Information Systems, or GIS as it is often referred to, is a way of gathering, maintaining, and analyzing data. GIS uses geography and spatial data to create visualizations using maps. This is a very useful way to analyze your data to identify and understand trends, relationships, and patterns in your data over a geographic region. Simply put, it is a way of visualizing data geographically and the key to GIS is in spatial data. In addition to spatial data, there is attribute data which is basically any other data as it relates to the spatial data. For example, if you were looking at the University of Illinois campus, the actual location of the buildings would be spatial data, while the type of building (i.e. an academic, laboratory, recreation, etc) would be attribute data. Using these two types of data together can allow researchers to explore and answer difficult questions.
While it can get more complex than that, since this is an introductions series, we won’t go into the fine details. If you want to learn more about GIS and the projects you can do with it, you can reach out to the Scholarly Common’s GIS Specialist, Wenjie Wang.
So, who uses GIS?
Anyone can use GIS! You can use maps to visualize your data to identify problems, monitor change, set priorities, and forecast fluctuations.
There are GIS technologies and applications that assist researchers in performing GIS. The Scholarly Commons has a wide range of GIS resources, including software that you can access from your own computer and a directory of geospatial data available throughout the web and University Library resources.
If you’re interested in learning more about GIS application and software and how to apply it to your own projects you can fill out a consultation request form, attend a Savvy Researcher Workshop, Live Chat with us on Ask a Librarian, or send us an email. We are always happy to help!
What is GIS? | Geographic Information System Mapping Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://www.esri.com/en-us/what-is-gis/overview