An Action Research Approach helps Develop GIS Programs in Humanities and Social Sciences


  • Laura Costello Stony Brook University



A Review of:

Kong, N., Fosmire, M., & Branch, B. D. (2017). Developing library GIS services for humanities and social science: An action research approach. College & Research Libraries, 78(4), 413-427.


Objective – To develop and improve on geographic information systems (GIS) services for humanities and social sciences using an action research model.  

Design – Case study.  

Setting – A public research university serving an annual enrollment of over 41,500 students in the Midwestern United States.  

Subjects – Faculty members and students in the humanities and social sciences that expressed interest in GIS services.  

Methods – An action research approach was used which included data collection, analysis, service design, and observation. Interviews with 8 individuals and groups were conducted including 4 faculty members, 3 graduate students, and one research group of faculty and graduate students. Data from interviews and other data including emails and notes from previous GIS meetings were analyzed and coded into thematic areas. This analysis was used to develop an action plan for the library, then the results of the activity were assessed.

Main Results – The interviews revealed three thematic areas for library GIS service: research, learning, and outreach. The action plan developed by the authors resulted in increased engagement including active participation in an annual GIS day, attendance at workshops, course-integrated GIS sessions, around 40 consultations on GIS subjects over a two-year period, and increased hits on the Library’s GIS page. Surveys from pre- and post-tests in the workshops increased participants’ spatial awareness skills. Conclusion – Using an action research approach, the authors were able to identify needs and develop a successful model of GIS service for the humanities and social sciences.


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Author Biography

Laura Costello, Stony Brook University

Head of Research & Emerging Technologies




How to Cite

Costello, L. (2018). An Action Research Approach helps Develop GIS Programs in Humanities and Social Sciences. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 13(1), 30–32.



Evidence Summaries