Another Goode Method: How to Use Quantitative Content Analysis to Study Variation in Thematic Map Design

Ian Muehlenhaus


Many methods have been embraced to analyze maps and compare them with oneanother. One method that has not been regularly used to study thematic mapsis quantitative content analysis (QCA). QCA is an established scientific methodthat is exceptional for longitudinal and large sample studies of media images.Using a sample of thematic maps from Goode’s World Atlas as an example study,this article does two things. First, it demonstrates the benefits and drawbacksof using quantitative content analysis to study the evolution of thematic mapdesign. Thematic maps were selected from the past 80 years of Goode’s WorldAtlas and analyzed using QCA to see if and how their thematic and cartographicrepresentations have evolved over time. Second, this article walks the readerthrough the process of setting up and using QCA to count, measure, and comparecartographic differences and changes in a map sample. Each step of the QCAprocess is explained, to help readers embrace the method in their own map research.Best practice advice is described throughout the case study. The article concludeswith a synopsis of the benefits and pitfalls of using this method.


quantitative content analysis; Goode’s World Atlas; thematic cartography; methodology

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