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Ethnographic Research Proposal: Final Draft

I. Introduction:
Through this ethnographic research project, we hope to observe an individual working in

the field of communications research. Specifically, our research will focus on Doctor

Khamis, who is an assistant Communications professor at the University of Maryland.

Specifically, Dr. Khamis uses her professional writing to help Western students develop

deeper perspectives about the Middle East through written and verbal communication.

Our research will focus on the different forms of writing that Dr. Khamis uses while

communicating with her students in her COMM428 seminar, which focuses on the role of

Arab women in social media during the Arab Spring. In addition, we hope to examine

her professional publications in order to understand her academic research process.

II. Research Questions:
The objective of our study is to examine the diction that Dr. Khamis uses to destigmatize

Western perceptions of the Middle East, especially towards Arab and Muslim women.

Our questions will allow us to form images of both her research process and the ways in

which she shares her research with the Arab and Western worlds. We aim to understand

how Dr. Khamis has had to alter her diction from researching in the Middle East to

publishing her research in the Middle East and Western World. Also, we hope to examine

the terminology she utilizes, and how it must change across cultures. We plan to

interview Dr. Khamis outside of the classroom, as well as conduct interviews with a few

of her students. In doing this, we will be able collect data on how her research has

impacted students perspectives of the Middle East. Some examples of questions we may

1. How did you conduct your initial research regarding the role of Arab women in social media

during the Arab Spring?

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a. Do you find the questions you asked in your investigations to be inhibited by cultural barriers?

If so, how?
2. When publishing and/or sharing your research in the United States, do you encounter particularly

strong stereotypes towards the Middle East?

a. If you do encounter this, how do you alter your delivery of information to your students?
3. When delivering your research in a class lecture, professionally written document, or radio

broadcast, do you encounter bilingual differences with your audience?

a. Which of these settings do you find to be the most impactful for your Western audiences?
b. How has your research been received in the Middle East?
4. What types of assignments do you assign in your courses to help students understand the

dynamic media culture with the Middle East?

a. How do incorporate your published books, Egyptian revolution 2.0 and Islam Dot Com, into your

curriculum? What writing methods do you use to help students understand your research?
5. Through our own outside research, we have found that you use social media postings as data for

your research. Have you noticed specific stylistic or usage differences within social media

between Arabs and Americans?

a. Which of your social mediums provide the most responsive feedback?
6. When translating your field notes into workable data, do you depend on a specific writing

a. How do you navigate between obtaining data and creating research documents based upon that

We are investigating this topic and individual in particular because we are both very

interested in the role of the media in the Arab Spring, as well as its usage in combating

racial biases. We agree that Dr. Khamis is one of the best individuals to observe these

topics because she is an academic expert on Arab and Muslim media. In addition, her

role as an educator in the Western World probes our interest. Dr. Khamis publishes her

research in both the Middle East and in the Western world, so she has to use distinctly

different diction and styles in order to convey persuasive information about her subjects.
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As Dr. Khamis emphasizes her bicultural status and knowledge, we believe that she can

offer insight into the experiences she faces in combating racial stereotypes.
III. Research Subject:
Our research subject, Dr. Sahar Mohamed Khamis, is a Communications professor at the

University of Maryland, with expertise in Arab and Muslim media. Originally from Egypt,

Dr. Khamis headed the Department of Mass Communication and Information Sciences at

Qatar University before coming to teach at the University of Maryland. Dr. Khamis has

published numerous books and papers in both Arabic in English, and currently hosts a

radio show on the first Arab-American radio network. Her show broadcasts throughout

the U.S. and Canada. In addition, Dr. Khamis teaches COMM428A, a seminar course that

demonstrates her research on Arab communication through the lens of social media. In

particular, we would like to inquire about the writing and research methods she used in

creating her two books, Egyptian Revolution 2.0 and Islam Dot Com.
IV. Data Collection Methods:
We intend to gather various writing samples of Dr. Khamis, including her published

works, radio show transcripts, and lesson plans. In order to gain a holistic image of the

ways in which she broadcasts her research, we will compare the differences in diction

that she uses in her multimedia approach. Furthermore, we intend to interview Dr.

Khamis to learn how she sees her style of writing changes when addressing her Western

audiences. Through our interviews, we hope to understand the impact Dr. Khamis has on

Western and Arab culture through her different types of publications. While we would

ideally conduct all interviews in person, we can conduct interviews over the phone if

needed. If we cannot attend Dr. Khamiss class in person, we would hope to review her

lesson plans and course materials. We would also like to be put in contact with a handful
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of her students to discuss their perspectives of media in the Middle East while taking her

V. Data Analysis:
In order to make sense of our data collection methods, we will create Microsoft Word

documents that reflect the comments made in our handwritten field notes. In order to use

those field notes to answer our research questions, we will develop word clouds for each

Microsoft Word document so that we can see the most used words in Dr. Khamiss

profession. We will eliminate article words to ensure that our word data are used in

understand the genre of communication studies, specifically in the context of Arab social

media. We will also make audio recordings of all interviews, so that we can accurately

describe the perspectives of Dr. Khamis and her students. In order to collect and analyze

our data from our ethnographic research project, we will use the following methods

indicated below in Solving Problems in Technical Communication:

-To begin our ethnographic research project, we will be studying communication.

Clay Spinuzzi describes communication in Solving Problems in Technical

Communication as the ways that people exchange their information, thoughts,

writing, and speech with each other (266). In particular, we will be looking at the

kinds of information that Dr. Khamis hands off and to whom, as well as how she

handles delivering and communicating information to students, faculty, and her

radio audience. For example, we might examine how she interacts with her

students when she starts class. Does she use a powerpoint to lecture to her

students? Does she provide paper handouts to her students to allow them to

engage in group work? These are just some of the questions that would be

addressed in us studying her communicative behaviors.

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-Jim Henry argues that every organization possesses an organizational culture

that distinguishes it from others, and technical communicators who seek to fit into

any organization must develop skills as cultural analysts (75). In order to

accomplish this, we must gather information about Dr. Khamiss workplace

culture. This collection of information gathering is broken down into four parts.

First, we have to discover what basic assumptions seem to drive UMDs

organizational culture. Second, we should examine how these assumptions

developed and are sustained. Third, we have to uncover the problems of external

adaption that a professor faces. Fourth, we come to an consensus about how these

assumptions are taught to new faculty in UMDs Communication Department

(Henry 78). By examining these various levels of organizational culture, we will

be able to understand Dr. Khamiss role at UMD as a professor, radio broadcaster,

and faculty member.

-Blakeslee and Savage present a heuristic that helps ethnographic researchers

understand how to trace and analyze the writing process (366). Their heuristic is

divided into six categories:

1.) the amount and quality of writing entailed and expected,
2.) the nature of writing,
3.) specific genres and rhetorical strategies,
4.) various approaches to and processes for writing,
5.) the knowledge and skills used in a profession, and
6.) the subjects personal traits and qualities.
These categories will allow us to create detailed field notes that help us to

understand the types of writing that Dr. Khamis uses as a professor, as well as her

unique characteristics that allow her to be successful in discussing Arab media.

-Blake Scott states that in their discussions of ethics, technical communication

researchers have drawn on various philosophical traditions, including those that

emphasize duties and obligations, respect for difference and care of others,
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impacts or consequences, and the communicators character (217). Dr. Khamis

began her academic studies in Cairo, Egypt, so we must pay special attention to

how her character has been shaped by her experiences in Egypt and the U.S. In

addition, we must note where her biggest obligations and commitments lie,

whether that is in her work as a professor, faculty member, or radio host.

-In order to describe and analyze project management activities, we will be using

R. Stanley Dickss heuristic for project management (315). This heuristic

functions as a waterfall method and includes seven parts in descending order:

1.) planning,
2.) research and information gathering,
3.) composition/invention,
4.) reviewing and/or testing against quality criteria,
5.) revision,
6.) production, and
7.) dissemination
If we are successful, we will be able to conduct our research of Dr. Khamis in an

effective and encompassing manner for our audience.

-Brent Henze argues in Solving Problems in Technical Communication that the

genre chose and used by technical writers must adapt and evolve to new

circumstances (342-343). In addition, he notes that by knowing the boundaries

[of your subjects technical writing genre]you can more comfortably stretch

those boundaries when its necessary to do so (345). As ethnographic

researchers, we must have the competence necessary to understand Dr. Khamiss

writing as a professor who provides lessons to her students and analyzes the

assignments her students turn in. In addition, we must be flexible to the changing

pace or topics in Arab media that her students adapt to. In doing this, we will be

able to act as a liaison between students and Dr. Khamis, providing our audience
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with an unbiased observation of the documents and writing techniques she uses to

communicate areas of interest within Arab media.

VI. Plan of Work:

Hard Soft Task Assigned Contributi Status Important

Deadline Deadline To on Remarks

Monday, Sunday, Draft To be Equal Complete Due on a

October 3 October 2 Team completed contributio Jewish
Charter jointly n by both Holiday-Rosh
partners Hashanah

Monday, Sunday, Final To be Equal Complete

October October 9 Team edited contributio
10 Charter jointly n by both

Monday, Sunday, Draft, To be Equal Complete

October October 9 Team created contributio
10 Schedule jointly n by both

Monday, Sunday, Draft, To be Equal Complete

October October 9 Letter of started by contributio
10 Inquiry Jacqueline, n by both
then edited partners
by Melissa (5)

Monday, Sunday, Final Edited Equal Complete Due on a

October October 16 Team jointly, contributio Jewish
17 Schedule with n by both Holiday-
Melissa partners Sukkot
submitting (5)
and in-

Monday, Sunday, Final Edited Equal Complete Due on a

October October 16 Letter of jointly, contributio Jewish holiday-
17 Inquiry with n by both Sukkot
Melissa partners
submitting (5)
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and in-

Wednesda Tuesday, Send Letter Jacqueline Email complete

y, October October 18 of Inquiry edited and
19 sent jointly
by both
partners to
Khamis (5)

Monday, Sunday, Draft, Created Equal Complete Due on a

October October 23 Ethnograp and edited contributio Jewish holiday-
24 hic jointly, n by both Sukkot
Research with partners
Proposal Melissa (5)
and in-

Monday, Deadline- Received Email Received- If no response

October response response to communic Melissa is received by
24 from Dr. set up a ation set up this date, the
Sahar phone call facilitated phone call partners will
Mohamed to discuss by Melissa for reach out to
Khamis our (5) 10/28/16 another
ethnograph at 9 p.m. individual
ic project

Friday, Friday, Phone call Melissa Conducted Complete Jacqueline

October October between by Melissa - will set unable to
28 28: 9 pm Dr. (5) up class participate
Khamis visits because
and occuring on the
Melissa to Jewish Sabbath
inform her
of our

Monday, Sunday, Final, Edited Equal Complete Jacqueline is

October October 23 Ethnograp jointly, contributio back in class
31 hic Jacqueline n by both
Research submitting partners
Proposal (5)
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Thursday, Thursday, Class and Both -Both Jacqueline has

Novembe November office Melissa partners mandatory
r3 3 12:30 pm hours visit and will visit class at 2
Jacqueline class (5)
visiting -Melissa
will visit
y after (5)

Sunday, Monday, Field Created Equal

Novembe November Notes jointly contributio
r6 7 write up: n by both
share field partners
notes with (5)
each other

Monday, Sunday, Final, Joint- Equal

December December Ethnograp continuous contributio
12 11 hic Report n by bother

Note: As we arrange meeting times with Dr. Sahar Mohamed Khamis, we will reflect those dates

our schedule.
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Works Cited
Blakeslee, Ann M., and Gerald J. Savage. "What Do Technical Communicators Need to Know

About Writing?" Solving Problems in Technical Communication. Ed. Johndan Johnson-

Eilola and Stuart A. Selber. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2013. 362-85. Print.

Dicks, R. Stanley. "How Can Technical Communicators Manage Projects?" Solving Problems in

Technical Communication. Ed. Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber. Chicago: U of

Chicago, 2013. 310-32. Print.

Henry, Jim. "How Can Technical Communicators Fit into Contemporary Organizations?" Ed.

Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber. Solving Problems in Technical

Communication. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2013. 75-97. Print.

Henze, Brent. "What Do Technical Communicators Need to Know about Genre?" Solving

Problems in Technical Communication. Ed. Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber.

Chicago: U of Chicago, 2013. 337-61. Print.

Scott, J. Blake. "How Can Technical Communicators Work Together in an Ethical and Legal

Manner." Solving Problems in Technical Communication. Ed. Johndan Johnson-Eilola and

Stuart A. Selber. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2013. 213-36. Print.

Spinuzzi, Clay. "How Can Technical Communicators Study Work Contexts?" Solving Problems

in Technical Communication. Ed. Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber. Chicago: U

of Chicago, 2013. 262-84. Print.