Determining and Mapping Locations of Study in Theses and Dissertations: A Spatial Representation and Visualization Tool for ETDs

Weimer, Kathy
Creel, James
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Theses and dissertations play a significant role in the scholarly literature, and many refer to locations of interest or regions under study. We have created a tool to generate interactive maps of the geographic locations referenced in theses and dissertations. This visualization affords increased awareness of the numerous locations being researched and which departments and majors are studying each location. More broadly, the interface supports multidisciplinary research, student recruitment and faculty collaboration.

Using geographic and gazetteer metadata and open source mapping applications, this tool provides knowledge of the depth and breadth of locations studied to researchers, graduate students, faculty and those seeking entrance into academic research. In addition, the tool presents researchers with serendipitous geographic and interdisciplinary connections. Beyond the visualization and interactive search interface, the tool directs the researcher to the completed theses or dissertation stored in the university’s instance of DSpace, our institutional repository. The beta version of the tool consists of several DSpace curation tasks to take a given ETD through each step of the metadata creation and mapping processes. Once the tool has suggested geospatial metadata for an ETD, the DSpace administrative interface allows curators to approve the suggested metadata values. In addition, we have manually annotated a subset of ETDs with geographic metadata to enable an evaluation of the tool. The long-term goal of this project is to extend the content to include all Texas Digital Library ETDs, and beyond, for a widely used search mechanism.