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Research Guides

Albright Institute

Using Maps and Spatial Data

For all of the Albright group topics this year, there is an inherent geographic component — everything and everyone is tied to a specific place on (or above!) the Earth. 


► Use maps as data sources ⇒ not all data is published in articles or databases. 

Not all data is published in articles and databases — maps contain an astounding amount and variety of data. When doing research for your project, keep in mind resources such as historic maps, interactive web maps, geospatial datasets, satellite imagery, and published paper maps.

► Use maps to communicate your data ⇒ you can find a map (with proper attribution) or make your own.

When you are putting together your group project, remember that you can leverage a variety of maps to serve different purposes. 

For example, you can use a location map to provide context to your subject matter. 

Japan plane collision at Haneda Airport  

John Saeki. Japan: Plane collision at Haneda airport. Map. 2024. AFP News. (accessed January 3 2024)


You can use a thematic map (many varieties) to demonstrate spatial patterns.

Four thematic map types by MacEachren & DiBiase (1991)



Golebiowska, I., Korycka-Skorupa, J., and Slomska-Przech, K. Common Thematic Map Types. 2021. The Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge (2nd Quarter 2021 Edition), John P. Wilson (ed.). DOI: 10.22224/gistbok/2021.2.7 (accessed January 3 2024)


Examples of soil property and class maps for two soil properties and two soil classes

Ramcharan et al. Examples of Soil Property and Class Maps for Two Soil Properties and Two Soil Classes. Map. Scale unknown. In: Ramcharan et al. "Soil Property and Class Maps of the Conterminous United States at 100-Meter Spatial Resolution" Soil Science Society of America Journal 82 (2018). 



If you have any questions about where to find maps/geospatial data related to your projects or about map-making, contact Tracy Tien (

Maps and Spatial Data Sources

Historical Map Collections

Global Oceans Data

Online Guides to Citing Maps & Geographic Data

Desktop & Online GIS Software

You can consider a non-exhaustive list of recommended mapping software on the MappingSoftware-GridView tab, or use the drop-down to help narrow down choices.

For your Albright projects, these following are most suitable to consider:



Link to spreadsheet