Document type: DU ETD
Collection: Geology Theses  
Title A Survey of Scale Concepts in Geographic Research
Author(s) Doiron Jr. Claude J.
School/Department Department of Geography
Institution University of Denver
Degree Type Doctoral
Degree Name Ph.D.
Type of Resource text
Degree Date May 1972
Digital Origin reformatted digital
Rights Statement All Rights Reserved
Reason for Restrictions No restrictions
Type of Restriction No restrictions
Keyword(s) Geology
Genre Dissertations, Academic
Language English
Abstract The great size of the earth and the many geographical elements upon it require that geographic research utilize a reductionism that demands comprehensive considerations of scale. These elements compose a range of geographical focus within the experience of man, and in keeping with the processes of nature. The geographer has no laboratory in the manner of other scientists, but must rely on the map, and more recently upon remote sensors, as a means of making portions of the landscape amenable for study. These also supplement his field work, which is affected by the dimensions of the landscape, and his limited powers of observation. Geography is a science of areal variation which requires extensive study of area. Man’s perception and conceptualization of area have important implications of scale. In field work, the geographer operates at a scale of reality (1:1). The sources with which he supplements field work are at various scales. Perception and conceptualization are processes, of both physiological and mental nature, peculiar to the individual; but the geographer is a trained individual and can give meaning to the areal variations at appropriately selected scales. Geographers have used the term, scale, with several meanings. Map scale is the most common and best understood. However, there are other scales necessary for the measure of areal variation. In this respect, it is frequently necessary for a special scale to be devised for the individual research problem. Geographers have also employed the term, scale, with the connotation of area, and to refer to a point on a scale. The important thing is that the scale measures what it says that it will measure, and that it is not in violation of the isomorphism between the real objects and the number system. It is also important that subsequent mathematical operations performed upon measured quantities, be in accord with the order of the scale (nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio), with which their measure has been determined. In geography, it is clear that the term scale means measurement, and more specifically, the preciseness of measurement. There is also a need to distinguish between generalization and measurement, as the former belongs to hypothesis and theory, and the latter to empirical observation. The selection of scale for a particular geographic research problem, might be thought of as a position of observation within a cone, inverted over the study area (cone of resolution). The choice of scale available is almost infinite, and the geographer has to rely on intuition and experience for selection. Actually he works at multi-scale considerations, being governed by data sources and the nature of his problem. Examination of current research articles reveals that most geographic research is being conducted at small scales (65 percent) while only 6 percent is at large scale. In aerial photo interpretation scale plays an important part in resolution, detection, and identification, but the mechanical systems and physical conditions involved are the governing factors. Thematic and special purpose mapping have extreme scale considerations center around the expression of areal data as point data. This is basically a matter of the extent to which one wishes to conceptualize or think abstractly, but concept cannot continue to be built upon concept without eventual verification with reality.
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Created: Thu, 15 Jul 2010, 16:22:50 UTC by Jacob Ratliff . Detailed History