Research Questions

  • Jay D. Gatrell
  • Gregory D. Bierly
  • Ryan R. Jensen


Spatial science research describes and explains the distribution of social and physical phenomena over the earth’s surface. Such research problems exist and may be analyzed across a vast spectrum of traditional scientific disciplines. Indeed, by focusing on spatial variation as a key element of discovery, spatial science seeks to uncover relationships between human and physical parameters that are not typically addressed in traditional social and natural science disciplines. Unlike many other forms of scientific analysis, spatial science does not operate solely within a single, closed theoretical framework (such as mechanical physics), but may mesh the methods of disparate source disciplines. What spatial science shares with all other forms of scientific analysis, however, is the need to pose clear, answerable questions within a research design that is coherent and logical. Collectively, this process is known as research design. In this chapter, the core task of articulating the research question is considered.


Research Question Scientific Analysis Answerable Question Student Researcher Final Research Question 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bernstein RJ (1983) Beyond objectivism and relativism: science, hermeneutics, and praxis. University of Pennsylvania Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  2. Bhaskar R (1977) A realist theory of science. Harvester, BrightonGoogle Scholar
  3. Braithwaite RB (1953) Scientific explanation: a study of the function of theory, probability and law in science. Cambridge University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Demeritt D (1996) Social theory and the reconstruction of science and geography. Trans Inst Br Geogr 21:484–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dowling D (1999) Experimenting on theories. Science in Context 12:261–273Google Scholar
  6. Gieryn TF (1994) Boundaries of science. In: Jasanoff S, Markle G, Petersen J, Pinch T (eds) Handbook of science and technology studies. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Haring LL, Lounsbury JF, Frazier JW (1992) Introduction to scientific geographic research. Wm. C. Brown Publishers, DubuqueGoogle Scholar
  8. Hess DJ (1997) Science studies: An advanced introduction. New York University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Popper KR (1968) The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 2d ed. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Kuhn TS (1962) The structure of scientific revolutions. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  11. Moss RP (1979) On geography as science. Geoforum 10:223–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rorty R (1991) Objectivism, relativism and truth. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  13. Sismondo S (1996) Science without myth. On constructions, reality, and social knowledge. State University of New York Press, AlbanyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jay D. Gatrell
    • 1
  • Gregory D. Bierly
    • 1
  • Ryan R. Jensen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth & Environmental SystemsIndiana State UniversityTerre HauteUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

Personalised recommendations