Geography Term Papers: Tips from 3 Dissertation Experts

Geography Term Papers: Tips from 3 Dissertation Experts

A geography term paper is one in which students will need to write about a topic that is connected to the larger topic of geography.  There are many different topics about which a student may need to write a geography report.  For example, some geography term papers may require that students study cartography, or map-making, in order to understand the terrain of a particular geographic area.  Other geography term papers may require that students learn about the culture of a particular geographic region and analyze how that culture may have been impacted by geography.

Regardless of why a student needs to write a geography term paper, the first thing that students should do when they approach the report research and writing is to ensure that they understand the assignment topics.  Because geography can encompass so many different topics, it is important for students to speak with their professors if they are confused.  In most cases, professors will be able to supply students with written instructions for the assignment that student should be able to follow.  

After a student understands the assignment requirements and topic, the pupil can begin his or her research into the assignment topic.  Students need to make sure that their research follows the guidelines of the assignment.  For example, if a student needs to write about the terrain of a particular region, the student may want to write about mountains and waterways as well as how those mountains and waterways are used by the population within his or her region.  

In order to perform research for geography term papers, students often need to take notes as well as photographs.  The photographs can help learners to remember the lay-out of an area and may help them to understand how that lay-out impacts the culture of the area.  For example, if a particular geographic region is agrarian, then students may be able to relate that society with the proximity to waterways.  If the geographic region has an isolated population, then students may be able to point to the physical isolation caused by geographic lay-out.  

Whenever a student takes on a geography term paper, the student needs to be sure that he or she looks at maps and photos whenever possible.  For this reason, geography term papers require different methods of research than other university articles.  For example, if a student needs to write a legal term paper, then the student may only have to review a court case in order to gain information about the topic.  

However, when geography is involved with geography term papers, students need to understand from a visual perspective how geography impacts the subject about which the student needs to write.

Viewpoint of Author #2

A geography dissertation is a lengthy and original investigation-based text composed by a geography doctoral student in the final phase of his or her degree.  Geography dissertations are independent projects geography students complete after they have completed the required coursework and exams in their discipline.  The dissertation is intended to reveal the student's in-depth knowledge of his or her focus in geography and ability to apply that knowledge to create new and important research.

University reports are intended to be very long; in this way, the report and dissertation process may be quite different from the other scholarly projects a geography student may have done.  By the time many doctoral students reach the report level, they have already completed and published conference papers and perhaps even journal articles.  Such documents are often modified into books in the future, so they are much longer and more in-depth than papers or articles.  

As geography is largely dependent on study in the field, it is likely that most geography dissertations will be at least in part reports of the student's individual fieldwork experiments.  Therefore, many geography dissertations will assume the standard scientific dissertation format, which is based on five chapters:

  1. an introduction of the research problem and a statement of the study's purpose;
  2. a review of existing literature on the topic;
  3. a methodology section explaining the study's procedure;
  4. a results chapter outlining the study's findings;
  5. a discussion chapter that suggests the implications of the results.

In addition to the five main chapters, most geography dissertations will need to include the following:

  • pages of front matter (title page, copyright page, approval page, abstract, table of contents, list of tables, and list of figures);
  • a comprehensive list of references;
  • an appendix;
  • the writer's curriculum vitae.

The introduction of a geography report should contextualize the research topic and suggest why it is important that that topic be studied.  The introduction should also offer background information on the writer's topic, explain that topic's importance in the field of geography and beyond, outline the student's objective in studying the topic, and articulate the student's hypotheses regarding the research outcomes.  

The second chapter of a geography dissertation is the literature review.  A literature review is an overview of existing research that relates to the student's topic.  All studies that help to inform or contextualize the student's research project should be summarized in this chapter.  

Following the literature review, geography dissertations present what is known as the method or methodology chapter.  This chapter describes the researcher's process of executing his or her study in such a way that another researcher could replicate the study based on the information presented.  

The results chapter of a geography dissertation presents analysis of the data gathered during the study's execution.  Most geography dissertations will be based primarily in quantitative data, so it is likely that the results chapter of a geography dissertation will include many tables, graphs, and charts representing that data.  In addition, this chapter must present statistical analysis of the results in order to determine the results' significance.  The instruments used in this analysis should be identified.  

A geography dissertation will close with a discussion chapter.  This chapter explores the relevance of the student's study and how the results can be applied in the field.  The discussion chapter may also point to future areas of study that may build on the researcher's own work.

Viewpoint of Author #3

Students in geography coursework classes will have to become familiar with a wide variety of geography essay writing.  As a student progresses through a geography course, the geography coursework requirements and assignments may change a great deal.  However, learners should be sure that they understand the purpose of each assignment and the proper methods to complete a geography essay.  

Whenever a student is given a geography essay assignment, the student should begin the assignment by reviewing the specific requirements.  Each different geography essay assignment will have a different purpose, which the student should understand if she or he is going to be effective in his or her research methods.  For example, some geography essay assignments require students to learn about culture while others might require learners to learn about topography.  

After a student understands the project requirements and the purpose of the geography essay assignment, the student should develop a plan for completing the assignment.  Some students will be able to complete the geography coursework assignment completely through research.  Other students may have to conduct experiments or build models in order to complete the assignment.  Therefore, developing an initial plan can go a long way in helping a learner to understand what needs to be done in order to affectively complete the project.  

Once the student has developed the geography essay assignment plan, the student should begin his or her execution of that plan.  Especially with plans involving research, it may be important for the student to be flexible during the early stages of the project, as initial research may change the scope of the project.  Therefore, learners should keep in mind that the plan may have to stay flexible if they want to complete the project as successfully as possible.  

Since the geography essay assignment involves writing, the student should develop an outline for the document before he or she begins the actual first draft.  The outline will provide the guide that includes the format and content.  

While there are many different types of geography coursework assignments, the basic methods for effectively completing them are similar.  However, geography essay assignments differ from many other subjects and should not be confused.  For example, even though anthropology and geography are often closely linked, the two should be treated differently.  Methods that a student takes to complete an anthropology assignment will most likely differ from the methods that a student uses to complete a geography essay assignment.

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