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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A method of designing resource inventories (soil-vegetation-landform maps) with user involvemen Pottinger, Edmund Ladner


This study tested a method of incorporating preferences of potential users in the design and presentation of a soil-vegetation-landform map and information retrieval system. The method utilized a questionnaire-interview program designed to elicit responses from potential user's. This test of the method tackled a small part of the whole problem by testing a small group of variables to enhance product utility. All examples were based on a real resource inventory of a small watershed in the mountainous coastal rainforest region of B.C. The study looked at seven dependent variables: map scale, mapping unit symbol, mapping unit variables (differentiating criteria), interpretive (derivative) map legends, soil classification, interpretive map presentation and general map presentation. For each dependent variable a number of questions (based on real examples) were asked to see if there was a consensus of opinion. The dependent variables were compared with a variety of independent variables, such as job group, decision making level, education level, etc. After a pilot questionnaire-interview program, all the identified potential users of the maps were sent questionnaires or interviewed. Tape recorded interviews using the questionnaire acted as a check on the effectiveness of the questionnaire. Combining questionnaires and interviews, there were 238 responses, which was roughly 80% of the established population. The results showed that the method could work. A consensus opinion was obtained on map scale, mapping unit symbol, interpretive legends, soil classification, interpretive map presentation and part of general map presentation. Interestingly, map producers tended to have significantly different views from the rest of the population. There were some variables for which no consensus was reached. There was either no consensus, or no real conclusions could be drawn due to poor question wording and poor examples. A summary of the results, was sent to the interviewees to clarify some of the unanswered questions and have them ratify the results of the questionnaire-interview program. The summary was a substitute for a prototype map which would have been used in a real inventory situation. Results from the summary program generally indicated corroboration of the conclusions, although this summary technique was definitely considered inferior to a direct testing of the prototype map. In conclusion, the method worked and could be incorporated in future inventories (future recommendations are included). It is an inexpensive and relatively simple procedure with which to test possible inventory, mapping and presentation techniques. The fact that this study indicated a significant difference between the desires and/or requirements of the map producers and the map users suggests a technique of this sort is certainly a necessity. It should also act as a very good user-producer relations and education tool. Introducing the maps to the potential users and having them involved in their design should improve information flow.

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