Why Geographic Information Analysis (GIA)?
SSRI now provides Geographic Information Analysis services to social science researchers. The prerequisite for using geographic information systems (GIS) is the availability of information on locations, the attributes of those locations, and the functional and geographic relationships among locations. The diversity of spatial data and analytical methods available to social science researchers is wide and continues to expand. Many research and policy questions faced by social scientists require analysis of complex patterns of interrelated social, behavioral, economic, and environmental phenomena. These questions inevitably involve different types of analytical units and emerging data formats used in formal spatial analysis, including point data, line data, spatial continuous or field data, and area or lattice data. To address these questions, both spatial thinking and spatial analytical perspectives have an important role to play.
The GIA Core’s contribution to social science research mirrors the trends in geospatial data collection and utilization. The GIA Core staff stays abreast of technological development in GIS, spatial analysis, and spatial statistics, and offers resources that will allow investigators to take advantage of new kinds of data services and analytical tools to generate new knowledge and investigate research questions with a spatial perspective.
Who Can Apply for and Receive Pilot Hours to Use GIA Services
To address the increasing demand, the SSRI now provides pilot hours for use of GIA services to the social science researchers at Penn State. This includes:
- Social Science Researchers at Penn State click here for application materials.
- Researchers in other institutes/universities can also apply but please contact GIA Core first.
Proposal Submission Guidelines
The purpose of GIA pilot hours is to support Penn State faculty in developing external grant proposals. The GIA pilot hours provide up to 10 hours of spatial analysis and statistical support at no cost. If the proposed research requires more than 10 hours of such support, the investigator should apply for a Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) seed grant or to another source for funding (e.g., department, college, or other research centers).
Although most proposal reviewers will have expertise in GIA, they may not have expertise in your research area. Therefore, your proposal should be written for a broad academic audience. Of particular importance is a clear and compelling statement of how GIA will contribute to the scientific impact of your work.
Proposals must include all sections listed under “Proposal Structure” below. Proposals should be single-spaced, in no smaller than 11-point type, with left-aligned one-inch margins. Proposals cannot exceed three pages (excluding information requested in Item 8). Proposals that do not conform to guidelines will not be reviewed. All components of your proposal should be compiled into one PDF file and emailed to email@example.com.
- Title page
- Provide the following information:
- Title of proposal
- Three to five descriptive keywords
- Name of lead investigator*
- Name of collaborating investigator(s)*
- *Contact information must be included for all investigators. Please follow the format outlined below for each investigator:
- Name (PSU Access ID [i.e., abc12])
- Tenure Track – Yes/No
- Provide the following information:
- Provide a rationale and research aims
- Provide a brief statement of the background for the project and specify the research aims.
- This section should highlight the innovation and significance of the proposed work.
- Describe the envisioned GIA tasks
- Please see the Computational and Spatial Analysis (CSA) Core website for detailed descriptions of our GIA services.
- Explain how GIA pilot hours strengthen the project
- Describe how the requested GIA pilot hours contribute to the project.
- Describe the expected deliverables
- Please specify the deliverables derived from GIA pilot hours that will be used in your external grant proposal.
- Examples include maps of the research areas or the results of exploratory spatial data analysis.
- Estimate the total hours requested
- Please provide an estimate of how many hours will be needed to complete the tasks and produce the deliverables.
- Up to 10 hours are available from the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI).
- The Population Research Institute (PRI) also provides up to 5 additional hours for PRI-affiliated researchers.
- You may need to consult with the CSA Core in developing your estimate, or you can provide details about the spatial analysis component of the project to justify your estimate of hours.
- Provide a timeline and describe plans for external funding
- Provide a timeline for completing the pilot project and when the GIA’s work will ultimately be used for an external grant submission.
- Specify potential funding source(s) and/or requests for applications.
- PIs of all funded pilot projects are expected to provide a one-page final report upon completion of the pilot project; we also will request annual reports to learn whether the pilot has resulted in an externally funded project down the road.
- These reports allow us to monitor the efficacy of our pilot hours program.
- Attach an NSF or NIH biosketch for the lead investigator and (brief) emails from co-investigators specifying their role in the proposed project.
Service Level Details
The GIA Core services available to social science researchers can be classified into three levels:
- The fundamental GIA service includes, but is not limited to, geospatial data management and archiving, geocoding, mapping, the linking of individual-level data to contextual data sets, nested data construction, and basic exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA).
- Example: The GIA Core helped researchers to digitize the Marcellus Shale area in Pennsylvania and New York, geocode the mine shafts/wells, and identify the school districts that have more than 50 percent of the district’s geographical area in the Marcellus Shale. Other examples of basic services include the construction of two-level hierarchical dataset linking for example individual-level information to census tract-level social, built, and physical environment variables (e.g., presence of toxic release inventory sites and violent crime rates).
- This level of services is comprised of tasks associated with non-nested data construction, research design issues, the use of global positioning systems (GPS) and/or wireless devices, customized programming, and advanced ESDA.
- Example: Customized programming is the development of a spatial segregation program in ArcGIS that can calculate different segregation indices. Also, the GIA Core has applied hotspot analysis. The existence of hot and cold spots provides strong evidence for spatial autocorrelation, and it suggests the use of advanced spatial analysis methods is warranted which would yield unbiased estimates, and appropriate inferences.
- The GIA Core provides advice on how to incorporate advanced spatial analysis techniques into social science research. The development of advanced spatial analysis in the past two decades has generated numerous innovative methods, such as spatial econometrics, geographically weighted regression, geostatistics, and Bayesian spatial hierarchical modeling.
- These techniques have been widely used in many disciplines (e.g., epidemiology); however, by contrast, there is a lag in adopting advanced spatial analysis in the social sciences. The GIA Core is experienced in integrating a spatial perspective into social science research. For example, a recent funded project requires the GIA Core to analyze the spatial pattern of cancer care in the Appalachian region.
- Developing new spatial analytic methods is also one of the GIA Core’s capacities at this level.
Please Contact GIA
If you are interested in the GIA Core services discussed above, please contact the GIA Core.
Please note: All collaborations are subject to IRB approval.