A scoping review on the multiplicity of scale in spatial analysis

Taylor M. Oshan, Levi J. Wolf, Mehak Sachdeva, Sarah Bardin, A. Stewart Fotheringham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Scale is a central concept in the geographical sciences and is an intrinsic property of many spatial systems. It also serves as an essential thread in the fabric of many other physical and social sciences, which has contributed to the use of different terminology for similar manifestations of what we refer to as ‘scale’, leading to a surprising amount of diversity around this fundamental concept and its various ‘multiscale’ extensions. To address this, we review common abstractions about spatial scale and how they are employed in quantitative research. We also explore areas where the conceptualizations of multiple spatial scales can be differentiated. This is achieved by first bridging terminology and concepts, and then conducting a scoping review of the topic. A typology for spatial scale is discussed that can be used to categorize its multifarious meanings and measures. This typology is then used to distinguish what we term ‘process scale,’ from other types of spatial scale and to highlight current trends in uncovering aspects of process scale. We end with suggestions on how to further build knowledge regarding spatial processes through the lens of spatial scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-324
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Geographical Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Multiscale
  • Processes
  • Quantitative geography
  • Scale
  • Spatial analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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