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Digital Scholarship / Digital Humanities

Mapping vs. Geospatial Analysis

  • GIS (geographic information system) analysis involves using dedicated software to perform complex analyses beyond what is immediately visible
  • Mapping is more commonly used to describe a simpler plotting of geographic points to be analyzed by the human eye
  • Either can attach information or photographs to geographic points, demonstrating how "what" is attached to "where"
  • Although these techniques may be advanced, students can instead analyze existing examples


Not looking for the complexity of GIS analysis? Try these simpler mapping tools instead.

StoryMap JS

StoryMapJS, from Northwestern University, is a free tool to help you tell stories on the web that highlight the locations of a series of events:

StoryMap JS Intro Video


Geospatial analysis

  • Geospatial data is data with geographic location as an attribute
  • Geospatial analysis involved creating a "lasagna" of datasets that share geographic attributes to be analyzed
  • All geographic features (where something is) are connected to what/when something is!
  • Think spatially! Recognize situations when geographic data could enhance understanding



ArcGIS Online

Not free, but can create a free public account with limited functionality. Select "Create an ArcGIS Public Account" here:

Introduction to ArcGIS Online video

Although this introductory video was made using Canadian maps, it provides an important glimpse at the functionality of the platform.