GIS and Science or GIScience?

As someone with a keen interest in promoting the value of GIS technology for scientific applications, when talking about “GIS and Science” I often am asked “Oh, you mean GIScience?” In a word, no.  Although there is a fairly blurry line when some people use the words GIS and science in the same sentence, the distinction is pretty clear in my mind. So I wanted to take just a moment to clarify, at least from my perspective, how the focus of my blog differs from GIScience.

According to Prof. Michael F. Goodchild at the University of California at Santa Barbara, geographic information science or GIScience is the study of “the theory and concepts that lie behind GIS and the other geographic information technologies” and “considers fundamental questions raised by the use of (these) systems and technologies.”  Additionally, David Maguire, ESRI’s chief scientist, cites uncertainty, cartographic representation, spatial analysis, and modeling as some examples GIScience study area. Goodchild notes other areas including data models and structures, methods of representation (and the relationship between the representation and the user), display methods. This is only a partial list; there are many other areas of study in GIScience.

While GIScience is certainly an important field of study, my blog—GIS and Science—is dedicated to exploring the various applications of GIS in the pursuit of scientific research and analysis.