The Learner's Guide to Geospatial Analysis

Memory Aid


Action 1: Review the spatial corollary from Step 1 (Problem).

Action 2: Make a list of key words or phrases to help identify information about the topic.

For example:

  • Shooter
  • Terrorist

Action 3: Scan the tertiary sources. Scan means that you should not deal with all of the content, but search through the material looking for an overview and:

  • Where is this object or event? (e.g., shooting)
  • What is at this object or event? (e.g., access to highway)
  • How is this object or event linked to other objects and events? (e.g., periods of heavy traffic)

Internet sites may provide tertiary source for information. However, citation of unvetted Internet sites, such as Wikipedia, in intelligence research is not considered acceptable because they are not considered a credible source. It is important to understand that a tertiary source is often a selective “downstream” summary and compilation of generalizations, analysis, interpretations, or evaluations of original information or primary sources. The most desirable are primary sources (or evidence), that is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under event.

Action 4: Skim secondary and primary sources relevant to the topic. To skim the material, read a page by reading the headings and first sentences of each paragraph or section. Note sources that might address your geospatial corollary. Secondary sources involve generalization, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of original information or primary sources. A primary source (or evidence) is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under study.

Action 5: Create an annotated bibliography of sources you will use. An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (30 words) description of the source and a quick evaluation if it pertains to life space, physical space, or intellectual space. For example:

Pherson Associates (2009) The D.C. Sniper Case.

This document is intended to illustrate the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) methodology.
Uncertain as to the factual accuracy. if valid, provides an insight into the life and intellectual spaces.

Action 6: Form your knowledge team. Your knowledge team is an informal network of two (2) to five (5) subject matter experts you organize around the problem. The knowledge team members have in common their knowledge about the analytic problem, tools, or techniques to address the problem. Consequently, ideas can be vetted. The role of the analyst is to make sure that all possibilities are considered.

Action 7: Test your understanding. Test your understanding by:

  1. Listing the spatial qualities and/or relationships of the life, physical, and intellectual spaces that relate to your problem.
  2. Providing a short explanation of the spatial qualities or relationships identified.
  3. Providing a short counter-explanation for each item identified in #2 above.
  4. Listing possible spatial evidence including, but not limited to, imagery, data sets, and possible GIS operations.

Action 8: Go back to Action 2 and go through the process again. Remember that the research process is a recursive one which means that you may need to revisit your previous work more than once if you find it doesn't work out.

Action 9: If necessary, go back to the problem Definition (Step 1) and revise your Spatial Corollary.