GEOG 885
Advanced Analytic Methods for the GEOINT Professional



The lesson addresses the two highlighted elements of the Structured Geospatial Analytic Method (SGAM):

 The following steps of the Structured Geospatial Analytic Method are highlighted: Step 1: Question; Step 2: Grounding
Figure 1: Structured Geospatial Analytic Method
Source: T. Bacastow, D. Bellafiore, D. Bridges, S. Harter, The Pennsylvania State University, 2010.

The question, or analytical problem, should be viewed as an active two-way interface between the client requiring the information and the geospatial analyst supplying it. For effective analysis to occur, an intelligence question must be “analytic” which means four conditions are met:

  • There must be at least one thing which needs to be explained.
  • At least one plausible explanation must be posed.
  • Counter-explanations are possible and analysis must include an investigation of alternative hypotheses.
  • The hypotheses must be well-defined enough to allow us to gather evidence.

Before addressing the question, the analyst must have a base of knowledge. When dealing with a new and unfamiliar subject, the uncritical and relatively non-selective accumulation and review of geospatial information is an appropriate first step. This is a process of absorbing geospatial information, not analyzing it.

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Identify a suitable analytic question.
  • Evaluate the suitably of data and information available to the analyst.

The Course Roadmap is intended to help you understand where we are in the overall learning process and to place our dual case study and project focus into context.

Figure 2: Course Roadmap
Click for accessible description

The Course Roadmap highlights where students are within the course. For Lesson 4, read/skim the materials that are presented, and then participate in a dicussion forum regarding the quality of information of the DC Sniper materials.

Lesson 4 is one week in length. (See the Calendar in Canvas for specific due dates.) To finish this lesson, you must complete the activities listed below. You may find it useful to print this page out first so that you can follow along with the directions.

Steps to Completing Lesson 04
Step Activity Access/Directions
1 Read the lesson Overview and Checklist. You are in the Lesson 04 online content now. Click on the Next Page to continue.
2 There are three different styles of reading that are referred to in the lessons:
  • Scan: Do not deal with all of the content, but search through the material for a specific purpose or a specific word (or its synonym). Scanning is used for such purposes as finding the answer to a particular question.
  • Skim: To skim, read a page by reading the headings and first sentences of each paragraph or section.
  • Read: The purpose of this style is to understand the concepts and arguments that the text contains, and it should be preceded by the Skim reading style.
4 Participate in the Graded Discussion. Expand upon (add information to) the example, DC Sniper Quality of Information Check (see Lesson 4 Part 5 SGAM: Question and Grounding). Post your analysis to the Lesson 4 Discussion Forum.

To participate in the discussion, please go to the Lesson 4 Discussion Forum in Canvas. (That forum can be accessed at any time by going to the Canvas link on the menu bar and then selecting Lesson 4 Graded Discussion from the appropriate weekly module.)
5 Read Lesson Summary. You are in the Lesson 4 online content now.


If you have any questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them to the GEOG 885 - General Discussion Forum. (That forum can be accessed at any time in Canvas by clicking on the Modules tab. The General Discussion forum is listed under the Orientation Section.)