Utilizing Resources for Framing/Focus Questions: Goal #2

Completing the annotated bibliography for my first goal helped to both expand and narrow the scope of my research. The articles I found about how waterfalls influence a watershed’s geomorphology, mechanisms of waterfall erosion, and basaltic jointing helped to guide my focus in a geologic direction. However, the articles I found about tourism in Mt. Fuji, Japan broadened the scope of my research to include several religious aspects. These articles were also thought provoking on the possible pros and cons of tourism at waterfall areas. I’ve attempted to channel this varied research into distilled framing and focus questions. I’ve also included potential methodologies to address the questions. Methods are an aspect of research proposals that I’ve struggled most with and hope to improve most upon. I’ve added construction of methods to my second goal to gain more practice in lining up methodology with framing and focus questions. See my questions and methodologies below:

Framing: How does knickpoint retreat affect stream channel grain size in mountain watersheds?

Focus: How does knickpoint retreat affect stream channel grain size in the Columbia River Gorge?

Methodology: Conduct a pebble count above and below a certain waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge to draw possible conclusions on differences in stream channel composition. Count and measure 100 pebbles directly below the waterfall, then another mile downstream. Do the same for at the top of the waterfall than conduct another pebble count one mile upstream. Find average pebble size for above and below a waterfall to see if what (if any) effects the drop has on grain size.

Framing: What are the benefits or drawbacks of having a waterfall be easily accessible?

Focus: What are the pros and cons of waterfall tourism in the Columbia River Gorge?

Methodology: A comparison of ecosystem health between a highly visited waterfall and one that is rarely visited by humans. Health assessment will be based on: water quality (test for dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, salinity and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), measurement of bed load or suspended load, measurement of fish diversity, benthic algal growth. 

Possible cost benefit analysis, will learn more in the fall in Environmental Economics. I would perform a potential cost benefit analysis of tourism at Multnomah Falls. This will include: defining the goals of tourism at Multnomah Falls, compile alternate possibilities for tourism at that location, list stakeholders, select measurements (ex. Of what businesses? Over what time period?), convert possible costs and benefits of tourism at Multnomah Falls into a common currency, this could include positive/negative externalities. After this is figured out, I would apply a discount rate, calculate a net present value of tourism at Multnomah Falls, then assess the impacts. This method is rough but will be adjusted when I have greater economic knowledge. 

One comment

  1. Shawn – Thanks for sharing these ideas! I’m glad to see that you’re trying to take the broad background from your first goal, and create more specific research ideas in this goal.

    For your first research idea, you’ll want to think about how to make this an ENVS thesis, not a GEOL thesis. GEOL would be happy to think deeply about the relationship between erosion and grain size, but not ENVS! Perhaps go back to the four question types, and see if you can state one of each question type for this topic. Alternately, consider the situated context, and the “collision of disciplinary perspectives” that collide at that place.

    Your second project has a more interdisciplinary feel to it – good work! I actually think the methodology is a strength of this project (despite your protest that methods are your weak point). I may suggest to revisit the focus question – “what are the pros and cons” is typically a way of creating a broad framework for the methodology. What is the question that you are interested in learning more about, for which you might want to examine the pros and cons?


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