ArcWatch: Your e-Magazine for GIS News, Views, and Insights

February 2009

Research Tool at

Esri's Online GIS Bibliography Serves as Excellent Resource for Information about Geographic Information Systems, Science, and Technology

By Carla Wheeler, ArcWatch Editor

The Esri GIS Bibliography, free on the Esri Education and Training Web site, recently surpassed 75,000 entries, making it one of the world's largest online repositories for information about geographic information science (GIScience) and geographic information system (GIS) technology.

"Thousands of students and hundreds of professors have used the bibliography as one of their major starting points for GIS research," says Dr. Michael Gould, Esri's director of higher education. "Besides being an educational resource, the abstracts and other materials point the way to finding other sources of information about or experts in geospatial research and technology."

The Esri GIS Bibliography at also serves as an excellent resource for scholars, scientists, geographers, cartographers, and professionals in a wide range of industries who want to learn about one or more aspects of GIS technology or geographic information science in their fields, Gould says. The bibliography references more than 1,000 sources, mostly journals, magazines, conference proceedings, and books. Though mainly abstracts, the bibliography also includes some PDFs to articles, conference proceedings, book chapters, and theses. The bibliography encompasses a vast array of fields and industries such as marine sciences, health, the environment, defense, land-use planning, surveying, petroleum, forestry, and many others.

Dr. Duane F. Marble, professor emeritus of geography at Ohio State University, began compiling the bibliography in the late 1980s. Because Marble and other academics were each creating individual GIS bibliographies, he saw the need for a more comprehensive public resource. When Marble retired from his academic position, Esri became curator of the bibliography. The staff at the Esri Library in Redlands, California, working with Marble, continues to update the content and maintain the Web site as a free service to the GIS and GIScience community.

"Although there are other specialized GIS bibliographies, the Esri resource covers a broad span of disciplines, applications, and theory as well as representing the history of GIS," says Marble. "The global reach of GIS is also clear. During the early years, North America, Europe, and Australia dominated the contributions, but now we see significant input from other regions such as Asia-specifically China."

Esri librarian Patty Turner says the Esri GIS Bibliography contains all the abstracts or PDFs to full papers for every year of the Esri International User Conference going back to 1993. Many abstracts from the Association of American Geographers' annual meetings are also posted. Citations also come from hundreds of journals such as the International Journal of Geographic Information Science, Cartographica, and Applied Geography. Turner added that the bibliography contains a lot of "gray material," which means it's often unavailable anywhere else online.

The Esri GIS Bibliography is easy to search using either the basic or advanced search engines. The advanced search includes fields such as title, author, keywords, and abstract along with the type of material being sought and the year range. Under the search feature is an area where readers can browse for books, conference proceedings, reports, journals, magazines, and other materials. Key magazines and journals are listed for convenience. Search results may be downloaded by the user.

The bibliography continues to grow. On average, about 2,000 entries are added each month. "We hope to accomplish another milestone in 2009 by reaching 100,000 entries," Marble says.

The growth of the bibliography mirrors the rapid spread of GIS as an increasing number of people in government, industries, and academia adopt the technology. "One of the very interesting things that the bibliography shows, even in a gross analysis, is a way in which the combination of the computer and geography has enabled so many people to start handling ideas and issues within a spatial context," says Marble. "You see it spreading in disciplines. If you look at archaeology, for example, which was an early adopter of GIS, you can see what's happened to that discipline because of the tools. GIS helps in analysis of site surveys, artifact retrieval records, 3D models, and models to predict location and spatial patterns of artifacts. The use and spread of GIS through the discipline can be analyzed with the bibliography."

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