Why geographic data science is not a science

S. Scheider, E. Nyamsuren, J.F. Kruiger, H. Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


"Data Science'' has taken many disciplines by storm.
And for a good reason: New forms and unseen quantities of data enter nearly every scientific field, substantially changing the ways how scientists do science, and potentially allowing them to answer old questions or to pose them in novel ways. The recent success of Data Science is also reflected in corresponding study programs and curricula and the emergence of specialized branches, such as Geographic Data Science (GDS). Some researchers, therefore, claim that Data Science and GDS should be treated as autonomous scientific disciplines, while others fear that it sells nothing but old wine in new bottles. In an attempt to sober the discussion, we investigate GDS and Data Science from the perspective of meta-science. We provide arguments why today's GDS and Data Science should be seen as an interdisciplinary community of practice of data-driven scientists, rather than a scientific discipline. We also discuss what is missing for GDS and Data Science to become genuine scientific disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12537
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • community of practice
  • geographic data science
  • Geography
  • GIScience
  • meta-science
  • scientific concepts
  • scientific questions


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