Geospatial Modeling and Analysis

Report guide

Here are a few guidelines to help you in preparing your assignment reports for MEA/GIS 582. The guide is written by Paul Paris and edited (shortened) by Helena Mitasova.

As directed on the course website, in your report include an:

  • Introduction
  • Methods (or Approach)
  • Results
  • Discussion (and/or Issues/Problems/Concerns)
  • Conclusion (or What I Learned)
If you have questions, do ask and post to the forums.


The Introduction should be a single paragraph describing, in general terms, the objectives for the assignment.
The Methods section should mention the more salient steps taken to conduct your work. Many will go into such detail here in preparing their reports that they practically re-write the solution instructions. No need! Remember that we're the ones who told you what to do in the first place. So, just focus on the principles, techniques and algorithms used to generate the results.
Results describe in brief the output from your GIS (GRASS and ArcGIS) analyses. This output might come in the form of maps, images, tables of values, or just a single value. Talk, again briefly, about these in your report. Attempt to go beyond just stating that Figure 1 is this, Figure 2 is that, Figure 3 is thus, Table 1 is, and so on. Dare to go further and offer a brief observation: are the results as expected? do you see any artifacts of methods used to compute the result? what does the resulting spatial pattern indicate?
You can include your interpretive discussions here and/or just comment on your experiences with the software and the assignments. Most do the latter, and that's fine. If you had a problem with ArcGIS or GRASS GIS, especially one unresolved, do feel free to expound. We just might be able to offer some assistance.
If you wish to mention something conclusive about the assignment topic you can insert that mention here and also, simply tell us what you learned.
There are often questions embedded in the assignments. When you encounter these your actions should be simple: answer the questions and integrate these answers into the report Results. Note that, in the first few assignments the questions may be trivial, but that's only to get you warmed up to doing simple queries in the software. Things will get more challenging as the course rolls on.


Say what you need to say, and only what you need to say, the minimum length of text is just 800 words, but feel free to write more, although writing pages and pages will do you no good, for wordiness for the sake of simply building a bigger report, will cost you points off your grade. Say what must be said, but do so succinctly.
Include some, especially those that are implicitly (or explicitly) required. Remember, if you see a d.out command in GRASS, that's one that we should find embedded in your report. Add others as you see fit in order to support your Results and/or Discussion and/or Conclusion. For most, it's easier to make a point with words and pictures, than by words alone. Label your figures as Figure 1, Figure 2, and so on. Add a short caption to each figure explaining what the graphic is trying portray or communicate. Reference the figures in your report (e.g. "see Figure 3", or "Figure 3 shows the results of ...)
Spell check
Spell check your work. Proof read the report to catch and correct any major grammatical errors. This isn't an English class so we don't dwell on the structural mechanics (and, of course, no one's perfect), but you are, or should consider yourselves to be professionals here, and so should strive to do professional grade work, as best you can.

If possible, have fun. You're more likely to find the fun part creeping in if you first listen to the on-line lecturesand do any assigned readings, including the manual pages for more complex modules. This will give you the requisite background that will permit you to write a good report, and do so with much less anguish--sailing smoothly from start to a grand and glorious finish. From that effort will emerge a real fine grade come semester's end.