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Data & GIS Lab

Located in Geisel Library, the Data & GIS Lab provides resources to help find, use, work with, organize and manage geospatial, numeric and textual data in various formats. The Lab also serves as the primary campus base for GIS services and access to GIS data and software. The Data & GIS Lab is open for self-service use when Geisel Library is open.

Location & Hours


Student assistants are available during core hours to answer quick questions or provide consultations on a variety of analytical and geospatial tools. Assistants can also provide an orientation to the lab, including hours, uses, hardware, and software. In cases where assistance becomes more complicated or involved, our student employees will instruct users to fill out a consultation request with a Librarian and reserve a dedicated time to work in greater depth.

The Data & GIS Lab supports requests directly connected to the research and educational goals of the university. Examples include scholarly research, course projects, dissertation/thesis work, and other related forms of intellectual inquiry.

The Data & GIS Lab provides support in the following areas:

  • Strategies for finding data, including navigating Library data resources and evaluating open data sources
  • Best practices for working with data, such as file organization and name, project structure, and file formats
  • Using data analysis and mapping platforms, specifically the software and coding platforms available on Lab computers
  • Suggesting tutorials and other resources (codebooks, software documentation) to assist with self-learning
  • Making a consultation with a subject Librarian for more in-depth support on specific topics
Though the Data & GIS Lab consults on content, principles, and literacies present in student assignments, the service is not intended to be a step-by-step homework help or tutoring support service
  • We support learners in applying concepts and techniques to their own work independently. Employees may suggest that users take introductory tutorials, use sample datasets as guidelines, reference learning resources and documentation, or recommend that learners confer with instructors, teaching assistants, or other departmental advisors to receive help with an assignment.

The Data & GIS Lab also does not:

  • Assist with projects involving individual entrepreneurship, outside employment, externships, or paid consultancies; 
  • Provide protracted, for-hire, or contract-based consultation services; or 
  • Offer deep methodological support such as statistical consulting
  • Perform IT services such as software installation
    • We do our best to couple software access and licenses with helpful documentation so that users can install programs effectively, and when possible, we will point to recommended resources for users who are installing software, particularly in cases where software needs are occasioned by remote learning.

Data & GIS Lab users must abide by the UC San Diego Library Use & Conduct Policy and all other UC San Diego Library Policies and campus policies. 

Current members of the UC San Diego community, which includes students, faculty, and staff, are not limited in the number of times they can schedule consultations or receive on-the-spot assistance in the Data & GIS Lab. However, the Data & GIS Lab team supports students and researchers from across the entire UC San Diego community and addresses many competing demands on our time and expertise. While we strive to assist users in overcoming data and GIS challenges and obstacles with research, we will refer users to consult with their instructor, advisor, academic department, or outside tutoring service for further assistance when those options are better suited to answer the question or when the number of requests from a user is deemed to be excessive or when other users are also requesting help.

Example GIS Questions We Can Help With

  • How do I map a list of addresses or latitude / longitude coordinates?
  • My data doesn't align in GIS, what now?
  • I'm stuck on a workflow for my GIS analysis, and I don't know what to do next.
  • I don't want a border on my map, how do I get rid of it?
  • How do I store my GIS files: as shapefiles or as a geodatabase?

Example Data-Related Questions We Can Help With

  • My data are in a weird file format, how can I convert it to a more usable format?
  • How do I work with data in SAS/Stata/SPSS/R/Python?
  • My data analysis code throws an error - how do I fix it?
  • What tools/methods are available for text mining and visualizing textual data?

Schedule an appointment with a librarian

Hardware and Software

We have 5 desktop Windows computers available for use within the lab. Computers are available on a first come, first served basis. We also offer remote access to a pool of remote Windows computers.

Request remote access


The lab has specialized software which cannot be found anywhere else on campus.

Physical Lab Machines

  • Abbyy Finereader
  • Agisoft Metashape Standard
  • Anaconda Python
  • ArcGIS Business Analyst
  • ArcGIS Desktop
  • ArcGIS Pro
  • Google Earth Pro
  • Python
  • QGIS
  • R /  R Studio
  • SAS 9.4
  • SketchUp 2023
  • SPSS
  • Stat/Transfer
  • Stata
  • Tableau Public

Virtual Machines

  • ArcGIS Pro
  • PowerBI
  • NVivo
  • QGIS
  • SAS
  • Stata
  • SPSS
  • R / R Studio
  • Python

Resources to help you with your research