How to write Geography field reports
Writing geography reports maybe a breeze if you like geography but for many it may be a little difficult. As it deals with the study of the earth and the surface features of the earth, geography assignments may include field reports which involve investigating certain places and factors which have affected the development of those places- such as weather, climate, human interference, natural vegetation, population, soil, climate etc.
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Stages of writing a geography field report
Before you start writing your report, you need to know under which sub-topic, your report would fall under- physical geography or human geography. Writing reports is an important skill in geography. Before starting out on the report, the student should familiarise themselves with assessment criteria. These are the criteria which define the outcomes for a particular project. The outcomes are the endpoints which have to be obtained at the completion of a particular task.There are five stages in writing a geographical report. These are:
- Identifying a research question
- Developing strategies on obtaining an answer
- Data collection
- Data analysis, evaluation and interpretation
- Conclusion and presentation of the findings
- Identification of research question
A fieldwork report is centred on a research question/a hypothesis or an issue. This question has to be a very specific question and extremely focussed; the question has to be answered through primary research efforts in the field. That is, primary data has to be collected by the students, to answer these questions successfully. The primary research question can also be rephrased in the form of a hypothesis which you would be proving or disproving in the course of investigation. The topic of your report can also be related to a country of peculiar interest to you. The report may need to showcase all or some of the following attributes: explain, discuss, compare, contrast, analyse, interpret, outline etc.
Any report has to show proper structure and organisation and a geography field report is no exception to that. There has to be an introduction, which has to be at least a few sentences long. The introduction has to mention the rationale of the study and to what part of geography it relates to. It needs to include the location where the study is going to be carried out. The introduction needs to mention why the study would be useful for a geographer or how does it contribute to the existing geography knowledge resource. The thesis is best expressed in the form of question as it helps you maintain the focus of the study as for example: the study is focussed on trying to answer the question as to how changes in the industrial development has affected the landscape in a particular area?
The introduction can lead into a more detailed discussion on how and where the study is going to be carried out. The student can discuss in detail the choice for this area for the study. The description needs to include: physical details of location, socio-economic conditions, background information, concepts and characteristics. You would need to include items related to the area under study such as maps. The study needs to be related to the concepts studied in the syllabus. Students would need to research information for the background and context. They should take care to use verifiable sources of information, whether it is online or published. To reduce inaccuracies, they should try and use a wide variety of sources. These may include reference books, journals, newspapers, CDs, textbooks and published papers on the subject. Reliable and reputed blogs can also be a source of matter.
The next part is the section on methodology. Every research report needs a section on the methods used to carry out the research. The methods to be mentioned including data collection methods, sampling methods, investigation and statistical methods as well as the details regarding how, when and where it was carried. Any special features need to be also mentioned. Methods used can be based on primary data collection and secondary data collection. The methodology has to mention this and also explain how the data was collected in such cases. The data generated should be enough to allow the analysis techniques to be used.
3. Treatment and analysis of data
Your geography report would need many kinds of evidence to corroborate it. The methods of representation of data must match the methods used for collecting data. If you are carrying out a study on the surface features of an area, you would need photographs, maps, diagrams and sketches, among other things. Both hand drawn as well as computer made sketches and diagrams would need to be reproduced as part of evidence.
All the diagrams, sketches and other images used need to be labelled and indexed properly for easy identification and reference. The diagrams need to be placed in order of the methods and sequence of study steps so that it can corroborate and match the text. Photographic evidence is quite important for a geographic report and hence should be compiled properly. Proper labelling and arrangement of photos needs to be done.
Geographic reports may also need the incorporation of statistical tests, graphs, maps and matrices. The choice of different methods of statistical analysis used, needs to be examined and explained. Your results and discussion should not only focus on the results you obtained and how well they matched the hypothesis or research question but should also focus on the difficulties, challenges and anomalies encountered. The delineation of these could result in the design of better experimental methods.
Any report would not be complete without the conclusion. This is the part where you end up concisely expressing the gist of the whole report- the aim, the findings, and how it ties in with existing knowledge. You would also throw in some ideas regarding future work. The conclusion should not present any new information. Rather, it can be used to present information presented in the body of the text in a new light.
It is not that difficult to generate a quality geography field work, if you just follow the above steps and put your mind to it.
Image Source: Tobias Beutel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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