Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Kristian Skrede Gleditsch
Data of interest to a political scientist often refer to attributes of units—for example, individuals or nation-states—that have a spatial location. Although analysts typically disregard geographical position and spatial configuration and treat their data as collections of independent units, there are many reasons why it may be essential to consider the spatial ordering of the data. In particular, attention to the spatial dimension can help generate new insights and may be essential for drawing correct inferences about the influence of other features in statistical analyses, even when spatial patterns are not the researcher's primary concern. In the following, the impact of spatial relations and their use in regression analyses are discussed. One way to appreciate the importance of spatial patterns in data is to consider the analogy to time-series data. Researchers are increasingly sensitive to how individual data points collected over time often will not be independent of one another, ...