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ANTH 3403: Ethnographic Research: Home

Getting Started with Ethnographic Research

This guide will help you find research resources for ethnographies and ethnographic methods.  Because ethnographies often encompass a wide variety of subjects, you may need to consult a variety of databases, journals, or books.  This guide will help you find some great resources to begin your search, but contact your librarian for more help.

Get Started Finding Books, Articles, Video, and More with Find It

Screenshot of find it results

Using the term "Ethnograph*" finds resources containing the words "ethnography" or "ethographic" or "ethnographies."  Try pairing this search with your topic keywords.

Guide to Research in Ethnography

What is Ethnography?

From Encyclopedia of Anthropology (Birx, 2006)

Ethnography, the study of people in a natural setting, provides an opportunity for researchers to conduct a detailed study of a group of people while being immersed in the culture of that group. Ethnography (ethno,“people” or “folk,” and graphy, “to describe something”), sometimes referred to as participant observation or field research, involves the study of people or an organization though face-to-face inter-actions in a real-life social setting. (read entire entry here)

Search Tips for Enthnography:

  • Use subject terms EthnographyEthnology, Social Life and Customs.  
  • Use keyword Ethnograph* to catch all variations of the word Ethnography, Ethnographic, Ethnographies.
  • Combine keywords for subject you want to study with Cultur*, Participant Observation, Case Stud* 
  • Not all books or articles label themselves as ethnographies.  Read the abstract and summaries to determine if it fits the definition of an ethnography.

Search Everything with Find it...

How to search...and find!

Too Many Results?

1. Filter out non-scholarly articles.  If you are required to find peer-reviewed articles, look for the "Peer-Reviewed" box located in most databases to quickly weed-out most non-scholarly works.  This will also remove newspapers, dissertations, blogs, and governmental or business reports.

2. Select "Full-Text" whenever you can.  This will narrow results automatically to articles you can read right away, avoiding unnecessary delays for Interlibrary Loan.

3. Limit your results by most recent articles only.  Most databases have either a limit or sort feature, enabling you to push more recent--and therefore more authoritative--results to the top.

4. Narrow your topic by adding more  keywords for a particular time, place, demographic, or perspective.  If your topic is "Farmer's Markets", you may try to include other keywords like Rural, Southwest, Economic Aspects, Women.

Too Few Results?

1. Cast a broader net with your search terms.  Choose more general terms, remove specific locations ("zoom out" on the map: South America instead of Brazil).

2. Remove filters like "Full-Text".  This may require you to use our Interlibrary Loan Service (ILLIAD).

3. Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for keywords.  

4. Try different databases.  We have a variety of resources--be diverse in your searching.

5. Contact your librarian.  We are happy to help you explore alternative search strategies and locations to help you find resources.

Reference Books on Ethnography

Here's some books to help you get started on ethnographic examples, definitions, research methods, and more.