There was a related question a while back that dealt with the top GIS blogs, but I'm also very interested in "academic" sources of GIS information. I'm currently updating my repository of information and am also considering some new journal subscriptions.

Every professional field has some big names and big articles. Who are the big names and what articles should everyone be aware of in GIS/cartography/remote sensing?

I'm looking for 3 things in particular:

1) Recommendations on the top sources for GIS articles - important/reliable journals.

2) Major articles from the past - those that paved the way towards the current state of our field.

3) Recent articles showcasing major findings/methodologies.

Bonus: I've recently been searching for a good source of information on cartographic design - any articles related to this would be a great help.


5 Answers 5


Having spent some time recently talking with teaching staff regarding new GIS students one of the things that most students seem to be lacking is a sound understanding of database theory and data storage and management practices.

I realize it is not a glamorous subject, but a good grounding in database theory will go a long way towards reducing errors in the design and implementation of geodatabases which can be the bane of many projects.

To that end I would recommend the two papers which I believe provide an excellent grounding in data modelling and database design:

Of course these two papers are built on the work of the great Ted Codd, to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. And every student should learn the oath:

Every non-key attribute must provide a fact about the key, the whole key, and nothing but the key, so help me Codd


Ian McHarg's Design With Nature is often credited as having laid many of the foundations of GIS.

Arguably, Ian McHarg’s 1969 landmark book Design With Nature has had a greater influence on the development and application of Geographic Information Systems than any other single event in GIS history. "McHarg's Method" describes how, thorough and multidisciplinary analysis of a region's ecological sensitivity, different information can be layered and combined geographically to identify suitability for different types of development and use. Design With Nature discusses the effects of what we now called sprawl and advocates a means of sustainable development. Today, McHarg's approach, the polygon overlay, forms the basis of many complex analyses and reports performed with (GIS).

(Source: http://www.urisa.org/hall/mcharg)


Openshaw S, 1984, "Ecological fallacies and the analysis of areal census data" Environment and Planning A 16(1) 17 – 31 should be read by anyone who makes a map which represents statistics using zones. You may have heard of the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP), this is the paper that defined it. See any of the 200+ papers that cite it to see why it is important

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