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6 Points

Unit Coordinator/Lecturer:
Dr Richard Davis
1.42 Social Sciences Building
6488 2847
Email: richard.davis@uwa.edu.au

Course Outline: Ethnographic Research Methods 1 of 9 Semester 2: 2010

Thursday 1-2 pm Room 1.41 Social Sciences Building
Consultation times:

Unit Description

This unit acquaints students with ethnographic research techniques and

strategies used by social scientists. This unit uses both lectures and practically-
based exercises to assist students to develop a toolkit for future research-oriented
studies and to critically and creatively reflect upon the primacy of ethnographic
practice within anthropology and sociology.


On completion of this unit you should be able to:

• Have the ability to distinguish between qualitative and quantitative research

methods and identify the appropriate qualitative methodology for specific
research tasks
• Have competency in the design and conduct of a research project from
developmental stages through to project completion / presentation of data
• Undertake a research project independently (but with guidance from the
• Have the ability to work collaboratively in workshops with fellow researchers
• Have an appreciation of ethnographic methods

Unit Structure

1 x 100 minute lecture per week for 10 weeks (5-10 minute break in middle of
Thursday 10-12 – Rm. 1.07, Woolnough Lecture Theatre (Geography and

1 x 45 minute Workshop per week for 10 weeks

Thursday 3pm - SSCI 1.30 (Anthropology & Sociology Seminar Room)
Thursday 4pm - SSCI 1.30 (Anthropology & Sociology Seminar Room)


You will be referring to the following texts on a weekly basis in Anthropology &
Sociology 2237 so it is recommended that you purchase your own copies from the
Co-op Bookshop. However, copies are also available for short-term loan from the
Reid Library HSS Reserve Collection, where loan periods can be booked in
advance. The following text will be the basis for weekly lectures:

Flick, Uwe (2006) An Introduction to Qualitative Research, 3rd ed., Sage,


The following text will be the basis for weekly Workshops:

O’Reilly, Karen (2005) Ethnographic Methods, Routledge, London.

Additionally, the following text, which is unfortunately not available through the
Co-op Bookshop but is in the Reid Library Reserve, would make useful (although

not compulsory) secondary reading:

Angrosino, Michael (2007) Doing Cultural Anthropology: Projects for

Ethnographic Data Collection, 2nd ed., Waveland, Long Grove.

I also recommend browsing through a few ethnographic works in the library to get
a taste of what an ethnographic account looks like.

Taped Lectures: Lectures will be available electronically via WebCT.

Lecture Timetable (Thursday of week below)

Week Thursday 10- 12pm
Commenci Laws Lecture Theatre

Week 1 Introduction: What is ethnographic Choosing: an ethnographic research

26 July research? Why do ethnographic project; a topic; a site; a group.
research? Qualitative and quantitative research.
Reading: Flick, Ch.2 Reading: Flick, Ch.3
Week 2 Historical and theoretical basis of The philosophy of ethnographic
02 August ethnographic research. inquiry.
Readings: Flick, Ch.6 Readings: Flick, Ch.7
Week 3 The “literature review” – what is it and Making effective use of the library:
09 August why do it? archival & library data.
Reading: Flick, Ch. 9 Reading: Flick, Ch.19

Week 4 Ethics, responsibilities, obligations and Research design: getting a project off
16 August risks. the ground.
Readings: Flick, Ch.4 Readings: Flick, Ch.9 & 12
Week 5 Free week for 1 assignment preparation

23 August
First assignment Research Proposal due Friday August 27
Week 6 Going into the field and establishing Participant observation and other
30 August relationships. Keeping records and observational methods
writing notes.
Readings: Flick, Ch.17
Reading: Flick, Ch.10-11
Week 7 Designing questions and interview Interviewing strategies
06 schedules.
Readings: Flick, Ch.14
Readings: Flick, Ch.13
Week 8 Free week for data collection for 2nd assignment due 08 October
Week 9 Analysing the data: from interview to Analysing the data: The coding
20 published text. process
Readings: Flick, Ch.29 Readings: Flick, Ch.23 & 26
Week 10 Counting, measuring & monitoring Analysing the data: Assessing validity

Course Outline: Ethnographic Research Methods 3 of 9 Semester 2: 2010

04 October Reading: Flick, Ch.15 Readings: Flick, Ch.28
Week 11 Presenting results: Writing and Recording, photographing & filming
11 October presentation: different types of report Readings: Flick, Ch.18
writing – theses, reports, etc.
Readings: Flick, Ch.30
Week 11 The poetics and politics of ethnography Overview of course
18 October

Workshop Activities
Week Workshop Discussion Topic
Week 1 No Workshops
26 July
Week 2 Ethnographic methods (O’Reilly, Ch.1)
02 August
• Activity: Identify research sites and questions.
• Discussion: What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative
methods? What is the difference (if any) between ethnographic methods
and qualitative methods? Is ethnography scientific?

Week 3 Getting a project off the ground (O’Reilly, Ch.2)

• Activity: Undertake a literature search for your research topic.
• The venue for this week’s Workshops is the Reid Training Room HSS Library
(meet out front).

Week 4 The Place of ethics (O’Reilly, Ch.3)

16 August • Activity: You will work in pairs to assess the ethical implications of various
scenarios presented to you at the start of Workshop.
• Discussion: Present your findings to class and discuss the outcomes

Week 5 Free week for 1st assignment preparation

23 August
First assessment due 27 August
Week 6 Developing a qualitative strategy and preparing for fieldwork (O’Reilly,
30 August Ch.4 & 7)
• Activity: Practice participant observation around campus
• Discussion: What are some common obstacles in integrating with
communities and settings as a fieldworker? Why is it important to maintain
good record keeping in the field? What are the advantages of covert
observation over announcing oneself to those being observed? Is covert
observation ethical? What advantages might there be in using visual
recording mediums to complement observation?

Week 7 Interviewing (O’Reilly, Ch.5-6)

06 • Activity: Draft an interview schedule and test it out on a partner
• Discussion: What are the elements of a good interview? How accurate are
peoples’ responses in interviews to their ‘true’ feelings and opinions? What
ethical issues need to be considered when interviewing?
Week 8 Free week for data collection for 2nd assignment due 08 October

Week 9 Analysing Data (O’Reilly, Ch.8)
20 • Activity: Undertake some preliminary coding and analysis of your interview
September data.
• Discussion: What analytical techniques do you propose to use to review
your ethnographic data? What can and can’t you conclude from interview
data? What are some of the biases that may affect your interpretation of


Week 10 Presenting your findings (O’Reilly, Ch.9)

Course Outline: Ethnographic Research Methods 5 of 9 Semester 2: 2010

04 October
• Activity: Draft an outline of your report
• Discussion: What reporting style do you propose to use to present your
data? What audience are you writing for? In what ways will this influence
your style of presentation?

Week 11 Final report preparation

11 October
• We’ll use this session to talk about any areas that you feel uncertain about
as you head towards the completion of your reports.
Week 12 No Workshops
18 October


Assessment for this unit will comprise four components.

1. Workshop attendance and participation: (20%)

2. Research proposal: 1,000 words (20%) Due: 5pm Friday 27 August 2010
3. Fieldnotes: 800 words (10%) Due: 5pm Friday 8 October
4. Research report: 3,000 words (50%) Due: 5pm Friday 22 October

Please note that in order to pass this unit, you must receive a grade for each
component of the assessment. Make sure you keep a backup copy of all written
assessment (literature review and research report). You must attach a completed
Department cover sheet to your work (available from the Anthropology Office).

1. Workshop attendance and participation

Your workshop participation grade will be based on preparation for workshops
(including weekly readings), contribution to class discussions and participation in
activities. Please note that workshop attendance is compulsory. Unless medical or
other acceptable explanations are provided, absences from workshops will result
in a zero being recorded for that particular week.

2. Research proposal:
Students will work individually to develop a research proposal on a particular
research topic.

Possible research sites and subject areas from which students can develop their
projects are listed below. Other areas of interest can be discussed in workshops.
There are limitations on the kind of research project you may undertake, so make
sure that you receive approval from the unit coordinator for the topics selected.

• University life: e.g. analysis of an aspect of university life

• Pub culture: e.g. socialising patterns, gendered interaction
• Gymnasiums: e.g. body image and the self
• Public eating: e.g. food consumption as social activity
• Shopping malls: e.g. consumer behaviours
• Tourist attractions: tourist behaviours

The research proposal will outline the intended purpose of the project and provide
a review of the relevant literature review and an outline of your methodology. The
specific areas to be covered in your research proposal are as follows:

• project aim(s),
• literature review,
• significance of the study,
• research methodology,
• ethical considerations,
• interview schedule, project information sheet & participant consent forms
(attached as appendices).

3. Fieldnotes:
Photocopy and submit up to (but no more than) 1,000 words of your fieldnotes.
Ensure that: you have numbered and dated each page; you have assigned
appropriate coding to your informants (if applicable), and that the copies are

4. Research report:
Students will be required to write a 3,000 word ethnographic report based on their
field research. Be sure to include the following:
• introduction,
• outline of the methodology employed,
• summary of the collected data (i.e. the ‘results’ section),
• discussion of the findings, including theories relevant to explaining the
• conclusion,
• references.

Your report will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

• the degree of effort you have devoted to the exercise (including data
collection, data analysis and writing),
• the utilisation of ethnographic methods,
• the quality of analysis and interpretation of data, (i.e. an engagement with
anthropological / sociological theories),
• originality in research application, data analysis, and writing,
• presentation of the report (expression, structure, spelling, referencing,
typing/word processing, and illustrations).

Written assignment guidelines:

Late penalties:

1. All essays must be submitted to the Anthropology office before 5pm on the
due date to avoid penalties (less 2% for each day overdue).
2. Any extension time must be applied for in writing and can be granted only by
the Unit Coordinator in consultation with the Head of Discipline. Extensions will
not normally be granted without supporting documentation (e.g. a medical


Be aware that the work you submit must be your own with no unacknowledged
debt to some other writer or source. To pass off written work as your own,
whether you have copied it from someone else or from somewhere else (be it a
published writer, another person, a TV program, a library anthology, a lecture, a
website or whatever) is to deprive yourself of the real benefits of this unit and to
be guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious offence! University policy is that
plagiarism, the unacknowledged quotation of material from other people's work,
is a ground for failure. The range of penalties for plagiarism includes a mark of 0%

Course Outline: Ethnographic Research Methods 7 of 9 Semester 2: 2010

for the assignment concerned, failure for the unit, suspension and even exclusion
from the university. In all cases, your name placed on a central plagiarism
register. If you take notes from other sources (critical articles, background works,
etc.) you must quote carefully and accurately, and acknowledge the quotation.
Even if you paraphrase, you must still acknowledge that you are paraphrasing.
This is very important! It is your responsibility to read the Faculty policy on


Appeals against academic assessment:

If students feel they have been unfairly assessed, they have the right to appeal
their mark by submitting an Appeal Against Academic Assessment form to the
Head of School and Faculty Office. The form must be submitted within twelve
working days of the formal dispatch of your unit assessment. It is recommended
that students contact the Guild Education Officers to aid them in the appeals
process. They can be contacted on +61 8 6488 2295 or
education@guild.uwa.edu.au. Full regulations governing appeals procedures are
available in the University Handbook, available online at .

Charter of student rights:

This Charter of Student Rights upholds the fundamental rights of students who
undertake their education at the University of Western Australia.

It recognises that excellence in teaching and learning requires students to be

active participants in their educational experience. It upholds the ethos that in
addition to the University’s role of awarding formal academic qualifications to
students, the University must strive to instill in all students independent scholarly
learning, critical judgement, academic integrity and ethical sensitivity. Please
refer to the guild website for the full charter of student rights, located at

Textbooks on Ethnographic Methods
Agar, M 1980 The Professional Stranger: An Informal Introduction to Ethnography.
New York: Academic Press. 305.8001 1996 PRO
Bernard, H 2002 Research Methods in Anthropology: qualitative and
quantitative methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. 306.072 2002 RES
Brewer, J. 2000 Ethnography. Buckingham: Open University Press. 305.8001 2000
Ellen, R (ed.) 1984 Ethnographic Research: A Guide to General Conduct. London:
Academic Press. 306.072 1984 ETH
Emerson, R.M, Rachel Fretz & Linda Shaw. 1995. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes.
Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press. 305.800723 1995 WRI
Fetterman, D. 1989 Ethnography: Step by Step. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. 306.018
1989 ETH
Hammersley, M. and P. Atkinson 1995 Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London:
Routledge. 305.8001 2007 ETH
Lecompte, M. & J. Schensul 1999 Designing and Conducting Ethnographic
Research. Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press. 305.80072 1999 ETH
Lecompte, M. & J. Schensul 1999 Analyzing and Interpreting Ethnographic Data.
Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press. 305.80072 1999 ETH
Sanjek, R. (ed). 1990. Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press. 306.072 1990 FIE
Schensul, J and Margaret D. LeCompte c1999. The Ethnographer's Toolkit
Walnut. Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press. 305.80072 1999 ETH
Schensul, S., J. Schensul, and M. LeCompte (1999) Essential Ethnographic
Methods: Observations, Interviews, and Questionnaires. Walnut Creek, Calif.:
AltaMira Press.
305.80072 1999 ETH
Spradley, J 1979 The Ethnographic Interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart and
Winston. 301.072 1979 ETH
Spradley, J 1980 Participant Observation. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Wolcott, Harry F. 1995. The Art of Fieldwork. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, A
Division of Sage Publications, Inc. 306.0723 1980 PAR
Watson, C.W. (ed) 1999 Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology. London, Sterling
Virginia: Pluto Press.
Werner, O & G. M. Schoepfle 1987 Systematic Fieldwork. (2 Volumes). Newbury
Park, CA: Sage. 306.072 1987 SYS

Gupta, A & James Ferguson (eds) 1997. Anthropological locations:
boundaries and grounds of a field science. Published Berkeley, CA:
University of California Press. 301.0723 1997 ANT

Hammersley, M. 1998. Reading Ethnographic Research. (2nd ed.) London & New
York: Longman. 305.80072 1998 REA

Marcus, G.E. 1998. Ethnography through Thick and Thin. Princeton, New Jersey:
Princeton University Press.

Whiteford, Linda M. & Robert T. Trotter II. 2008. Ethics for Anthropological
Research and Practice. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

Course Outline: Ethnographic Research Methods 9 of 9 Semester 2: 2010