In many fields, such as computer sciences, it seems to be quite clear which conferences are top tier and how a paper accepted to those conferences compares to journal publications in the same field.

Is there a general agreement in GIScience about which conferences are considered top tier? And how do publications at those conferences compare to papers in, e.g. Transactions in GIS or the International Journal of Geographical Information Science?


12 Answers 12


These three conferences are influential in my academic GIScience circles.

(stalwarts) (1) Conference on Spatial Information Theory; http://www.cosit.info/ (2) International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience); http://www.giscience.org/

(rising in importance) (3) ACM SIGSPATIAL International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems; http://www.sigspatial.org/sigspatial-conferences

An accepted paper for COSIT or GIScience might be somewhat equivalent to publication in International Journal of Geographic Information Science or Transactions in GIS (IJGIS Impact Factor in 2012: 1.613 & TGIS Impact Factor in 2012: 0.906).

Of course, the interdisciplinary spatial journals have the highest impact: http://www.aboutgis.com/gis-and-remote-sensing-journal-list-with-impact-factors/

Due to the specialized nature of GIScience, I expect the most-influential papers on geospatial information research will begin to be published in journals with a wider reach. That same gravity also will pull the work to higher impact conferences, such as one of the Association of Computing Machinery specialty meetings -- or perhaps to large conferences, like the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.

Simultaneously, the Internet minimizes the need for singular important conferences and journals. In the longer term, I expect closed, expensive, or proprietary channels to be diminished in importance.


Besides GIScience, I would add SDH (Spatial Data Handling conference), GeoComputation and the AGILE conference, in Europe. More focused on cartography, there are also the ICC (International Cartographic Conference) and AutoCarto conference.

An excellent resource for GIS conferences traking is this conference calendar maintained by colleagues of the Zurich university.


My perspective is skewed toward the U.S., but both the AAG and AGU conferences heavily feature the bread and butter of GIS: spatial analysis, remote sensing, spatial statistics, cartographic methods, geographic demography and others. at AAG in particular it is a minority of sessions that do not feature GIS (the toolkit), and there are dozens of sessions on GIS (the science/perspective).

GIScience publishing for maximum cred is fairly venue-agnostic. Conference papers have a fairly equal value with journal pubs when tenure is being considered.

  • 4
    But keep in mind AAG is a non-refereed conference that does not require full papers. So regarding the second part of the question, how does presenting at the conference compare with publishing in one of the top journals, the answer for AAG would be that it is not at all comparable. Jul 2, 2013 at 23:00
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    I am a long-term member of the AAG and think the annual AAG has many merits but being a strong GI Science annual conference is not one of them. Not at all may be harsh but I think it is not a good answer to the question.
    – user17614
    Aug 4, 2013 at 21:41

The GI Forum in Salzburg is well-known and respected, http://www.gi-forum.org/. A publication/presentation at an event like this is a peer-reviewed, competitive event. Same as at COSIT. Much more valued than a presentation at AAG, for example, which has an open call for presentations. Presentations at ESRI's UC are somewhat peer-reviewed, but are not as rigorous as AGILE, GIForum, COSIT, etc.

Transactions in GIS now has a special competition each year for papers that are presented at the UC. Such papers are also vetted highly.

The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (http://www.ucgis.org) holds an annual symposium at which research is shared, though the event is predominantly attended by affiliated members.


American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS): The imaging and geospatial information society.

Founded in 1934, the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) is a scientific association serving more than 7,000 professionals worldwide. Our mission is to promote the ethical application of active and passive sensors, the disciplines of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems, and other supporting geospatial technologies; to advance the understanding of the geospatial and related sciences; to expand public awareness of the profession; and to promote a balanced representation of the interests of government, academia, and private enterprise. We are The Imaging and Geospatial Information Society.

ASPRS is a very well respected organization that hosts annual and specialty conferences primarily for the scientific and academic audiences. Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, commonly referred to as PE&RS, is the official journal for imaging and geospatial information science and technology--also very well respected in the industry.


Open Source Geospatial Research and Education Symposium - http://2014.ogrs-community.org/

The Global Conference for Open Source Geospatial Software - http://2013.foss4g.org/

EDINA’s Geoforum in UK - http://edina.ac.uk/events/geoforum2013/ however not sure that they publish any papers Quite a big event in the field of Geoinformation - InterGeo - http://www.intergeo.de/ it's a fair trade and a conference, again I am not sure that it is what you asked for


The GIS Research UK (GISRUK) has been running since 1993.

Although with UK in the title it attracts researchers from all over the world. My subjective impression following the papers from last few years is, that the quality and variety of the topics covered is really impressive.


You won't find a generally agreed on list; but based on your industry or area of concern you most often will find where most of your peers tend to present. Property Tax/Appraisers have there own associations, as do the e911/NextGen911/NENA crowd.

For most used in the USA you will find the Regional/National URISA Conferences, as well as ESRI IUC are major points of interest.

Your State/Regional Users Groups such as NWGIS in my case as well.


Even though there have been already a couple of answers here my thoughts (being now 10 years in the research area). However, just before, I might say that locally there are important conferences - with fewer international participants, due to availability of travel budgets. Also it is probably important in what GIScience application field you work. E.g. if you are in cartography, ecology or transportation, etc.

So from my experience, and where all the top researchers go is definitively
(1) GIScience - which is every 2 years.

(2) In every other year there is Conference on Spatial Information Theory - COSIT. So, lots of top people come there too.

(3) ACM SIGSPATIAL (every year), with very technical audience (new algorithms - people from Oracle, Microsoft, Google, etc. may be there)

=> Placing some presentation in either of those conference is an achievement and can be counted like having a journal article. However, if you do not make it into GIScience, etc. with your submission: don't worry too much. I think there is always double the number of submissions than spots for presentations. Then, you could still look what workshops are there at the same time and perhaps present there.

Then there come other conferences that have a long tradition and which I not may rank as either one being better:
(4) Conference on Spatial Data Handling (SDH, every 2 years), AGILE (every year), GeoComputation (every 2 years) and AutoCarto (every two years?).

(5) If publication is not so super important, but you want to see and learn something and make some contacts (I enjoyed it a lot as PhD student), then: go to GIS Research UK (GISRUK, every year). If you are interested in open source GIS then FOSS4G (every year) should also your choice to meet people with similar interest, or the other person that you talked to only via email for years.

Newer conferences that could be of interest are: OpenSource GIS (OSGIS) UK and Open Source Geospatial Research and Education Symposium (OGRS). Participation is most likely worthy if you live around the area where it happens.

Well, and if you are in Cartography, Mapping and GIS, then the Int. Cartographic Conference (ICC, every 4 years) should be on your plate as well. Similarly holds for Remote Sensing and GIS related work with the ISPRS Conference, which is also every 4 years. For Surveyors this may be FIG (though, I don't think publication is very important here) and for everyone in spatial data infrastructures this is the GSDI conference series.

For people in North America the AAG (Association of American Geographers) Conference (twice a year?) is of interest. And if you are more into Remote Sensing then it is the ASPRS Conference (every year) that should attract you. Likewise for folks in Germany, Austria and Switzerland the AGIT could be a place to go and meet up. Canada has actually SKI (Spatial Knowledge and Information).

I am sure I forgot some conference, but... well, this is why others can write here as well. At the end you can visit each year lots of conference and workshops. It all depends on your travel budget. Also, you may have a look at the workshops that are run together with the bigger conferences (i.e. some form of specialist meetings and an even better place to meet people from your subfield). They are a good indicator about how important a conference is - just check how many workshops are associate with the GIScience Conference and who organizes them.

What is finally important: I was close once to submitting something to a conference or workshop that I was in doubt about the credibility (that may you just make you pay lots of cash - but are in locations your always wanted to go to: like Brazil or Dubai or so..). So in that case I looked up on who is on the board of the conference committee (for reviews of submission, etc) - but not part of the organizers - and if I knew a name of the list from some publication. Then I wrote to a person I had heard off or knew and asks if he/she would go. Then, depending on that persons response I would submit or not.

So, and if someone reminds me, I would also write in a bit about my impression of the journals to publish in. However, as someone mentioned above, I feel the most impact can be achieved if you publish in a journal of the area that your GIS work is related to: that is (a) check where your readership might be, and (b) how technical is your article.


I have looked through different search results on a good list, and the best I've found so far was: http://www.gsdi.org/upcnf.

I have helped organise several GIS-related conferences myself, and have attended several, and since GIS is quite diverse as everybody knows here, it really depends on which crowd you are looking for, being that developers, analysts, or organisations and companies! It also depends on which discipline you are looking to investigate, being that geovisualisation (eg. Geomatik , Geoanalytics), opensource GIS (eg. FOSS4G), computational GIS (Geocomputation)or just general (eg. GISRUK , AAG).


In the Austrian/Swiss/German biotope the AGIT - (german: Angewandte Geoinformatik in der Informationstechnologie, english: Applied Geoinformatics in IT) is very important due to its nature as an interface between users, data producers, business players, science/education and administration. Symposium and Expo can be found or will be organized in July of the year at the department for Geoinformatics in Salzburg (Austria). Follow the links http://www.agit.at/ and http://www.zgis.at/index.php/de/ for further info's.


For US and Canada, the NACIS Annual Meeting has been around for 30+ years. Smaller gathering of around 250 people that allows for conversations and avoids that lost in the crowd feeling.

Our enduring passion is to render our social, economic, political and natural world intelligible and actionable through visual story and cartographic design.

We are a creative design-oriented group that for over thirty years has provided a forum spanning the diversity of the mapmaking, geospatial & data visualization communities. We are specialists from government, commercial, and not-for-profit fronts along with academics, scholars, map/GIS librarians, artists, and students. Be there for the dynamic discussions rich in techniques, theory, history, and the state of our art.

We publish cartographic papers via our Cartographic Perspectives open journal.


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