How to write a perfect ethnography: A Complete Guide
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How to write a perfect ethnography

How to write a perfect ethnography

Are you looking to learn how to write a perfect ethnography? If yes, you are exactly where you should be. But before understanding the mechanics behind writing an ethnography, we will first need to have a proper understanding of what the word means. It derives its origin from the Greek words “Ethos”, meaning people, and “graphic”, meaning to write. Helping scholars extract detailed descriptions based on patterns and various social aspects of a culture, ethnography can be quite a powerful tool in the field of social sciences. Its research methodologies focus on the social sciences to understand and explain idiosyncratic human behaviors.

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So, what exactly is Ethnography?

Since the research and data analysis can take a long time, the process is both time-consuming and difficult. Being an ethnographer, the individual has to continuously live with a specific community allowing him to observe and record their lifestyle and behaviour. These observations allow him to gather data using various methods. This data becomes the backbone of the ethnographic report. Today we will be taking a look at three different stylistic approaches on how to write an Ethnography:


The Steps:
The first step of how to write an Ethnography should always start by making field notes. No matter how trivial or inconsequential you might find it, make sure to include everything in your field notes. Most of the students and beginners might find the amount of writing overwhelming, but it often helps to influence your writing style. In the case of analyzing human behavior, deviating off the topic can be a challenge. Therefore, it becomes important to break it down into different parts.

Understanding the audience and the topic:

No matter what document you are writing, knowing the targeted audience becomes very important. This will allow you to craft it with the perfect tone for your audience. This is very important to convey your point to the reader. When students begin with learning how to write an Ethnography, the sheer number of facts and observations may deviate them from the topic resulting in vague writing. Rather than educating the reader, it might end up confusing them. It is therefore critical that you have the proper understanding of your study before you embark on it.

The Thesis statement and the outline of the project:

One of the key parts of writing an ethnography is the thesis statement. This allows the reader to grasp the central idea while setting the theme for your research. The thesis statement can also be a great anchor in keeping you focussed around the central theme, allowing you to integrate your findings more seamlessly. The thesis statement allows the audience to understand the social aspect that you are trying to emphasize. The next step of how to write an Ethnography after determining the central theme and thesis statement is to create the outline. Your field notes can prove to be a great tool to help create the outline. The outline will help to define the article structure and stay on track. Now that you have defined the outline, the data you have collected from communities and field sites will have to be reviewed. This will make the process much easier. Make sure that you divide the report into corresponding sections according to the outline allowing you to focus on one section at a time while eliminating any overlapping of information.

Literature Reviews

One of the major elements in ethnography is Literature Reviews. This is what one might call a brief reference to other studies relating to the same topic. Allowing to create a strong foundation for your report, literature reviews help gather facts and add credibility. So those looking to learn how to write ethnology have to focus on writing literature reviews. This becomes a major contributing factor to the methods you choose for your ethnographic descriptions. Thus, a major emphasis on data analysis techniques and research methodologies is critical. In general, three to five literary reviews should be added to your report.

Data Collection and Analysis:

The data collection tools that you used should be mentioned in your report while also explaining the reason for using them. This will help convey a better understanding of the readers. The two methods for data collection include:

  1. Qualitative Research: This method deals with insights into the factors. This can include interviews to gather open-ended data. This will also include your field notes gathered by observation.
  2. Quantitative Research: True to its name, this type of research primarily deals with numbers and empirical evidence while making assumptions and conclusions. This can be both statistical graphs to data charts. This involves carefully gathering close-ending data through surveys, observations, and experiments.

The next step of How to Write an Ethnography includes the analysis of the data. This will allow the researcher to extract ethnographic data from the field. By removing any unnecessary data and interpolating various social theories, it becomes easy to relate to the thesis statement.

Reflexivity: This indicates the details of the research. This will incorporate why the ethnic group is chosen to be studied. It will also include the tools the researcher has used to extract data. This helps to eliminate any misunderstanding of the data analysis. Reflexivity allows you to describe why your report is unique from past studies and also list any limitations faced during the study.

The introduction and the conclusion: The introduction of your report should contain a summary of the report, while the conclusion needs to be concise and to the point, while addressing any issue and providing probable solutions. Conclusions also need to be short since the reader might lose interest over a lengthy conclusion. Try to write the introduction and conclusion at the very end, which will help you develop a more coherent writing style.

Final Draft:

Now that we have covered most of the points of how to write an ethnography, we reach the final stage of editing and proofreading. This is particularly important to eliminate any mistakes or errors. You might also take the help of someone to help you proofread and edit the document. At this stage, you will start drawing parallels with the central theme of your research. Once you are done editing, you are ready to publish.

Writing an ethnographic report can be challenging, especially for students, due to the overwhelming amount of data they have to analyze. Follow the steps mentioned above, and you should be good to go.

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