How to Best Use SAL
The resources available from the SAL are here to support your use of geospatial science and geographic information in your research – that means different things for different people and different project though. Some strategic thinking can help you make optimal use of the resources available to you though. The following tips are based on the experiences of technical staff and feedback from previous project teams, so if you have something to add – let us know 🙂
- Know what your ‘research question’ is.
If your geospatial work is a subset of your overall project, what is the research question that the sub-project is feeding back into the main project?
- Have some idea what ‘done’ might look like.
If we know where the goal posts are, we have a better chance of ending up between them! You don’t need to know exactly how you are going to get ‘there’, but it helps if we know which metaphorical ‘there’ you want to get to.
- Be able to identify prospective study sites.
We can’t help you source data if you do not know where you want to look. If you do not have place names, perhaps you have types of environments or specific ecosystems you are interested in – we may, or may not, know of places that may be suitable; you are welcome to ask, if we can help then we will. Asking for which site has “all the good data” is not a great way to be taken seriously as a potential researcher – what does ‘good’ mean? Good at what scale and for what purpose, for a start!?!
If you are uncertain about the points above, especially the top two, you need to speak more with your Supervisor(s) – as technical staff, SAL staff are not in a position to advise you on ‘research direction’.
Once you are able to give us information on these essential big-picture aspects of your research, we can provide you with technical advice on tools, techniques and methods from the suite of options available within the Geographic Information Science and Technology Body of Knowledge.
While SAL is not in a position to teach researchers how to use software, we can direct you to appropriate training resources and provide technical assistance in your use of geospatial software in undertaking your research work. There are also a number of other skills that will improve your applied geospatial research experience that we can assist you in acquiring. These include:
- techniques for understanding how data flows through your analysis and the implications for error propagation
- how to identify the most appropriate coordinate system/projection for the tasks you need to undertake
- data management structures that will help you manage the critical datasets used in decision-making over the life of your project
- how to choose between various implementations of an algorithm within or across software based on data models and your project plan
Access to SAL support is gained by registering your research project with us.
If you are wondering what happens after registration…