Principles of Research for Landscape Architects

LA 541

Paul F. Anderson



Maps in Jensen article 

(click on a map to enlarge)

jensen34.jpg (134313 bytes) Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 (original is B&W)

jensen5.jpg (42868 bytes) Fig. 5 (original is B&W)

jensen12.jpg (183101 bytes) Plate 1 and Plate 2 (original is color)

jensen78.jpg (80552 bytes) Fig. 7 and Fig. 8 (original is B&W)



The formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and makes a real advance in science. Albert Einstein, 1938


Prepare you for other graduate courses
That give you more specific research skills
That require you to use research skills
Prepare you for professional practice
To hire and work with other researchers
To find, read, interpret, and apply research results to your projects
To conduct research for your own design and planning projects

Learning objectives

Develop your grad student survival skills
Select major professor and committee members
Prepare Program of Study (POS) and project proposal
Prepare for orals, schedule strategies, forms, manuals, and deadlines
Use research results wisely
Distinguish research from non-research
Find appropriate literature reporting research results relevant to landscape architecture
Read and discuss research results and their applications to landscape architecture
Review a variety of research strategies
Learn characteristics of experiment, survey, archival analysis, history, and case study strategies
Discuss appropriate applications of each type of research strategy
Understand norms of good practice, ethical standards, human subjects protection, and informed consent
Review a variety of research tools
Learn characteristics of language, bibliography, measurement, statistics, data processing, observation, and geography research tools
Discuss appropriate applications of each type of research tool
Understand how research processes and methods can be applied to landscape architecture
Describe a research question or topic
Develop a research plan
Write a research proposal


Attend class faithfully and participate in class discussions, role playing, and other activities
Prepare for class by completing assignments on time
Attend at least one research presentation on campus and report to the class
Successfully complete ISU Human Subjects Research Assurance training
Complete reading assignments and written exercises
Complete your major project: research plan and proposal


Quality of your work
50% Written exercises, oral reports, and presentations
10% Class participation
40% Research plan and proposal
Attendance, attitude, and improvement are qualitative factors that are considered for your final course grade


Required texts at the bookstore

  • Groat, Linda, and David Wang. 2002. Architectural Research Methods. Wiley, New York, 389 p.
  • Leedy, Paul D. 2004. Practical Research: Planning and Design. 8th ed. Macmillan, New York, 318 p.

Selected required readings on reserve or in handouts

  • Burrough, Peter A. 1986. Principles of Geographical Information Systems for Land Resources Assessment. Oxford, London. 193 p.
  • Dillman, Don A. 2000. Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. Wiley, New York. 464 p.
  • Iowa State University. 2004. Graduate College Handbook. ISU Graduate College. 100 p.
  • Iowa State University. 2003. Thesis Manual. ISU Graduate College. 32 p.
  • Isaac, Stephen, and William B. Michael. 1981. Handbook in Research and Evaluation. Second Edition. Edits Publishers, San Diego. 234 p.
  • Jensen, John R., and others. 1992. Predictive Modeling of Cattail and Waterlily Distribution in a South Carolina Reservoir. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, November 1992, Vol. LVIII, No. 11. p. 1561-1571.
  • Moore, David S. 1991. Statistics: Concepts and Controversies. Freeman, New York. 439 p.
  • Tufte, Edward R. 1983. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Graphics Press, Cheshire, Conn. 197 p.
  • Tufte, Edward R. 1990. Envisioning Information. Graphics Press, Cheshire, Conn. 126 p.
  • Yin, Robert K. 2003. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. 3rd ed. Sage, Thousand Oaks, Ca., 181 p.
Landscape Journal and other periodicals reporting research results

Reading schedule

Survival skills (1 week) 
Thesis, advisor, committee, POS: Grad Student Survival Skills (handout) Sections I, II, III, and IV
Orals and thesis: Grad Student Survival Skills (handout) Sections V, VI, VII, and VIII
Manuals, forms, schedules, deadlines: Grad Student Survival Skills (handout) Sections IX, X, XI and XII; Graduate College Handbook and Thesis Manual
Research strategies (2 weeks)
Overview -- Leedy Introduction, Chapter 1, Isaac and Michael Chapter 3, Groat and Wang Chapter 1, Chapter 5
Tools -- Leedy Chapter 2, Chapter 10, Dillman Chapter 1
Presenting research results -- Leedy Chapter 12, Isaac and Michael Chapter 7, Tufte Chapter 1, one other chapter
Qualitative methods (1 week)
Qualitative and correlational: Groat and Wang Chapter 7, Chapter 8
Experimental, Simulation, Case study: Groat and Wang Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 12
Historic and bibliographic methods (1 week)
Historic -- Leedy Chapter 8, Groat and Wang Chapter 6
Bibliographic -- Leedy Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Groat and Wang Chapter 3
Survey methods (2 weeks)
Survey design -- Dillman Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Leedy Chapter 9
Survey implementation -- Dillman Chapter 4, Chapter 5
Numerical and spatial methods (2 weeks)
Statistics -- Leedy Chapter 11, Moore Chapter 1, one other chapter
Geographic information systems -- Burrough Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Jensen Predictive Modeling article
Research plan and proposal (6 weeks)
Planning -- Leedy Chapter 5, Chapter 7
Writing -- Leedy Chapter 6


Strategies for Success



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Last revision: 26 September 2007