Category Archives: Society News

New journal, Geo: Geography and Environment open for submissions

by Fiona Nash, Managing Editor: Academic Publications at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

UntitledGeo: Geography and Environment is a fully open access, international journal published by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Wiley. It is dedicated to publishing high quality articles from across the spectrum of geographical and environmental research and has an interdisciplinary focus that spans the sciences, social sciences and humanities. Geo welcomes research contributions that bring new understandings to geographical research agendas, advance spatial research, foster methodological development, and address geographical enquiries in contemporary issues.

Reasons to publish in Geo:

  • immediate open access
  • high standard, rigorous peer review
  • articles enhanced by integrated hosting of multimedia and data content
  • fully compliant with all open access mandates
  • articles published under Creative Commons Licenses

Automatic Article Publication Charge waivers and discounts will be given to authors from countries on the Waivers and Discounts List. Authors should submit a waiver or discount request during the submission of their article.

Submit a Manuscript

 

Getting academic research published and read

Publishing and getting read front cover. Copyright Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Wiley-Blackwell.

Publishing and getting read front cover. Copyright Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Wiley-Blackwell.

by Madeleine Hatfield

The topic of academic publishing has recently been making news in its own right. In the UK and elsewhere, the momentum behind the open access movement has gathered, with growing support for academic research outputs to be made freely available to the public. Even for many academics themselves, however, getting to grips with how research gets published at all – whomever the audience – is a steep learning curve. New mandates from research councils to make published research open access also mean academics potentially need to be even more mindful of where and how they publish.

Earlier this year, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Wiley-Blackwell launched a new free guide for researchers on publishing and getting read. The guide is intended for authors at all career stages, whether new to academic publishing or seasoned scholars wanting to know more about copyright, bibliometrics or open access. The guide is intended to help researchers to:

  • Publish their research in a wide range of forms
  • Think strategically about publication profiles and plans
  • Understand their opportunities and responsibilities
  • Get their published research read

Also available is a guide to ‘Communicating geographical research beyond the academy’ and case study handouts about different aspects of academic dissemination. These resources could help researchers to negotiate the route through academic publishing, and provide an accessible guide for those outside of academia wanting to know more about how research gets published.

60-world2Publishing and getting read: a guide for researchers in geography (Download free PDF)

60-world2Communicating geographical research beyond the academy (Download free PDF)

60-world2Case study handouts available at www.rgs.org/Guides

60-world2Grove J 2013 G8 science ministers endorse open access Times Higher Education 13 June

60-world2The Guardian Open access [summary of articles]

60-world2Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) 2013 Open access and the geographical community

Geographic Information Systems –a Tool for Geographers or a Science in Its Own Right?

Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 by Terje Sørgjerd

Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 by Terje Sørgjerd

by Briony Turner

There’s an interesting paper by Mordechai Haklay in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers which starts off by describing an ‘Iron Sheep’ exercise at the recent Association of American Geographers conference – one could be forgiven for thinking it’s a trial for inclusion in the next Bond film.

The paper itself provides an interesting history of geographical information science. The paper doesn’t touch on the difference between geographical information “science” and “systems” so for other geographers perhaps slightly unsure like myself, the science part is the theory behind the use and application of the technology/software that comprises geographic information systems.  Perhaps this confusion is itself a product of the ‘cleavage in GIS between two traditions, that of spatial information on the one hand and that of spatial analysis on the other’ (Goodchild, 1992).  Mordechai’s paper explores whether geographical information science is a sub discipline, or not, of Geography.

Back in the 1854 John Snow, one of the forefathers of modern day GIS as well as epidemiology, mapped out the Soho cholera outbreak using points to represent individual cases and revealed a cluster around a public water pump on Broad Street.  This led to identification of the contaminated water pump as the source of the disease.  For teachers, this legendary Cholera map in various GIS formats and suggested lesson content is freely available via the James Madison University National Centre for Rural Science and Mathematics Education.

In a more modern day context, Peter Webley, Assistant Research Professor at the Geographical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, who back in my undergraduate days was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in our Geography Department, uses GIS as a means to bring together fieldwork and remote sensing data for operational use. He’s now part of the IAF-AVO remote sensing group and is responsible for the volcanic ash cloud model forecasts for volcanoes around the world.   You might well ask, why focus on this individual?  It is creative individuals like him, that put to use GIS software to translate geographic data, models and forecasts into something tangible, understandable and operational for the rest of society.   For instance he developed a system to analyse thermal hotspot volcanic monitoring in Central America to help provide the information necessary for disaster warnings (UAF, 2012).  In addition to the day job, he’s part of a team that have developed “MapTEACH” which is a fantastic educational tool to help teachers and their students in Alaska get to grips with GIS whilst simultaneously preserving their community heritage, their history told through stories, with mapping.

Hopefully this post will have inspired some of you to seek out more information on GIS and for the teachers amongst you, perhaps to spend some lesson time on it.  The Royal Geographical Society has a GIScience Research Group, so do check out its pages if you’d like to find out more.  There’s a “Virtual Issue” of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers with papers over the past five decades covering the use of computers in geographical and cartographical research, a substantial amount of which, including Mordechai Haklay’s paper, are free to download so do also check them out.

For those of you in London, interested in debating this/want to meet people who use GIS in their jobs/research, the London Trainee and Student GIS Community are meeting for drinks at the aptly named John Snow pub, Sunday 20th January at 2pm, 39 Broadwich Sreet, London W1F9QL, the more the merrier!

GJ book reviewMichael F Goodchild, 1992, Geographical information science, International Journal of Geographical Information Systems, 6 31–45

books_iconMordechai Haklay, 2012, Geographic information science: tribe, badge and sub-disciplineTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37  477-481

GJ book review

Augustine eruption leads to updated model, University of Alasaka Fairbanks

Human and Physical interactions

The recent floods in the UK have captured the imagination of the media and general population.  The relationship between flood events and the human population have undeniably been highlighted by the UK media in the last week, with BBC articles such as Why do people buy houses in places prone to flooding? clearly outlining the interactions between humans and the natural environment.

This article clearly outlines the ways in which humans relate to rivers before and during flood events. Much research has been conducted into the effects of flooding with the effects of flood events being felt and seen for many months afterwards. The BBC article,  raise the point that whilst damp or a bit of subsidence may deter prospective home-buyers, living on a floodplain does not, the article then goes onto explore the reasons why.

Considering the physical processes at play during a flood has been considered in many contexts by Geographers. Tadaki et al.’s (2012) recent paper ‘Nature, culture, and the work of physical geography’ in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers discusses the implications of a cultural turn in physical geography. This paper makes thought-provoking points and concludes by stating ‘(it is about) realising all physical geography is applied and that all physical geography is relevant. It is the questions of ‘applied to what?’ and ‘relevant to whom?’ which need to be considered more carefully’ (Tadaki et al., 2012: 560)

It was intriguing to read this paper alongside the daily news articles which were being released. Tadaki et al. raise important questions about the cultural considerations and implications of research which involve the physical environment. Recent flood events prove the significance of research but also lead to enquiries as to how research is interpreted by the public and what knowledge is relevant with one resident in Barford’s article feeling that the ‘inconvenience’ of a flood every few years was worth it to live in such an attractive and convenient location.

books_iconTadaki, M., Salmon, J., Le Heron, R. and Brierley, G. (2012) Nature, culture, and the work of physical geography Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 37 (4) 547-562

worldWhy do people buy houses in places prone to flooding? BBC News 29th November 2012

Visualising History: Geography, Art and Exhibitions

by Fiona Ferbrache

Emigration, Plymouth Cattewater (oil painting by Gordon Frickers, (www.frickers.co.uk/art/home-page/) reproduced with his kind permission).

Many different forms of representation have provided inspiration to geographers: works of literature, art, photography, political analysis, tutorials and journal articles, to name a few.

Recently, I had the opportunity to view some paintings produced by marine artist Gordon Frickers, which provide detailed insight on geographies of the modern and ancient marine world.  Frickers’ paintings are underpinned by comprehensive research of written texts, photographs and objects to produce a visual portrait that is as accurate as possible.  One of his scenes Emigration, Plymouth Cattewater, is an illustration of emigrants departing Plymouth in the 19th century¹.  This particular painting reveals a largely forgotten business at a time of significant historical migration, and invites the viewer’s curiosity.  It seems clear that geographers cannot understand the world without paying attention to such visual forms of representation.

In 2009, the RGS-IBG hosted an exhibition: Hidden Histories Made Visible.  Its aim was to bring into full view those people who have been only partially visible in other representations i.e. photographers, Sherpas and cartographers who made expeditions possible but who remain in the shadow of explorers such as Livingstone and Mallory.  The exhibition is the subject of Felix Driver’s paper in TIBG.  He illustrates the way in which the exhibition challenges assumptions about the history of exploration and geography – in this case celebrating the role of the supporting team rather than the individual explorer.  Driver demonstrates how the exhibition’s choreography conveys this message, and reminds us that any representation of the world – even an exhibition – is always partial.  For anyone organising an exhibition, this is a useful read.

After viewing Frickers’ work and reading Driver’s account of Hidden Histories, one is reminded of the value to geographers of paying critical attention to visual forms of representation.  In conjunction, a number of recent and current exhibitions might inspire geographers with alternative perspectives:

The Robinson Institute by Patrick Keiller at the Tate Modern

Writing Britain: wastelands to wonderlands at the British Library

Geographical blueprint: the art of the handcrafted globe at the Royal Geographical Society

Felix Driver, Hidden histories made visible? Reflections on a geographical exhibition,Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00529.x

Gordon Frickers’ website provides further information about his paintings and associated research.

¹ The Port of Chester was also a significant point of departure for emigrants, albeit less so than the major ports of London, Liverpool and Plymouth.  Frickers’ The Port of Chester (1863), shows this port at its busiest period.

Exploring Geography

by Fiona Ferbrache

Captain Scott in 1911

The Royal Geographical Society (-IBG) has a strong historical association with exploration.  Famous explorers such as David Livingston, Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Edmund Hillary are part of our subject history (also see Sacks‘ post below).  This year marks the centenary of the ill-fated Antarctic Terra Nova expedition (1910-13), led by Captain Scott (Lewis-Jones, 2007).  The centenary will be marked through a variety of events, including RGS talks and presentations, and a commemorative exhibition at the Natural History Museum, which runs until September.  While we celebrate and commemorate such adventurous feats, what does exploration mean for Geography?

Scott’s link to the RGS was established when he was selected by then President, Sir Clements Markham, to lead an expedition to Antarctic in 1901.  At that time, little was known about the frozen continent, and the legacy of their southern adventures, including Terra Nova, is one of scientific discovery and understanding.  In other words, exploration was valued as a desire to know and understand more about the world’s places, environments and peoples.  In a similar way, professional geographers were among those invited to Buckingham Palace when the Queen hosted a reception in honour of exploration and adventure last December.

In connection with the RGS Medals and Awards ceremony, which celebrates contemporary geographical research, fieldwork and photography, Michael Palin (in Palin et al. 2011) draws attention to the symbiosis of exploration and geography and highlights links between earlier geographical exploration and its modern counterparts.  He writes about a shared spirit of enquiry and a desire to keep asking and trying to answer questions to satisfy a need to know geography (and geographically).  In all these feats, receptions and commemorations, the people involved appear to share a desire for scientific investigation, discovery and greater understanding.

The theme of exploration will be developed in my next post (8th May) through discussion of a group of urban explorers seeking to know and remap the city in new ways.

  Lewis-Jones, H. (2007) Review: Scott of the Antarctic: A Life of Courage and Tragedy in the Extreme South. The Geographical Journal. 173,2. pp.188

  Palin, M., Earle, S., Livingstone, D., Elden, S., Lowe, J. & Owen, L. (2011) Honouring geographers and contemporary exploration: from the archive to the ocean at the RGS-IBG Medals and Awards Ceremony 2011. The Geographical Journal. 177,3. pp.279-287

  RGS-IBG What’s On guide

  Captain Scott centenary marked at St Paul’s Cathedral.


21st Century Challenges: Natural Disasters

Announcing a new event in The Royal Geographical Society’s 21st Century Challenges series.

The earth is a hazardous place; natural disasters will continue to happen.

But how can we improve our response to them and ensure this benefits vulnerable communities worldwide in the long-term?

Speakers :

  • Dame Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB
  • Cameron Sinclair, Founder of Architecture for Humanity and former TED prize winner
  • Read speaker biographies

Chair: Martin Bell OBE, UNICEF UK Ambassador for Humanitarian Emergencies

Tickets: RGS-IBG members £7, non-members £10.

Book “Natural Disasters” tickets online (You will need to sign in or register)

Contact the Events Office.

+44 (0) 20 7591 3100
events@rgs.org