Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry

Annotated Bibliography

Alvermann, D., O'Brien, D., & Dillon, D. (1996). On writing qualitative research. Reading research quarterly, 31(1), 114-120.

This article presents a "conversation" among the authors about issues in writing qualitative research reports. They address potential problems researchers may face when reporting their findings and discuss how theory and methodology shape qualitative research write-ups.

Anderson, G. L. (1994). The cultural politics of qualitative research in education: Confirming and contesting the canon. Educational Theory, 44, 225-237.

This article looks at different approaches to qualitative field research. It is also a critical review of the Handbook of qualitative research in education.

Andreas, D. (1992). Ethnography of Biography: Student Teachers Reflecting on 'Life-Stories' of Experienced Teachers. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 20-24).

Explores the use of ethnographic biography as a source of information and reflection for student teachers.

Balester, V. M. (1993). Cultural divide: A study of African-American college-level writers. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

This book is based on research Balester conducted on the spoken and written texts of African-American students. For her study, Balester did case studies of eight African-American students, looking specifically at the students' attitudes toward their own language and the language of academia.

Banning, J. (1995, Sept. 19). Qualitative research. Personal interview with professor at Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

Dr. Banning, a professor in the School of Education at Colorado State University, discusses in detail the workshop he and colleague Jeff Gliner conducted on qualitative research.

Bishop, W. (1992). I-Witnessing in Composition: Turning Ethnographic Data into Narratives. Rhetoric Review; v11 n1 p147-58 Fall.

Discusses problems with reconciling ethnographic research with positivistic methods.

Blair, K. (1995). Ethnography and the Internet: Research into Electronic Discourse Communities. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (46th, Washington, DC, March 23-25, 1995).

Pros of electronic ethnography.

Borman, K. M. (1986). Ethnographic and qualitative research design and why it doesn't work. American Behavioral Scientist, 30, 43-57.

Borman identifies the characteristics of qualitative research and its weaknesses, then offers solutions.

Brophy, J. (Nov. 1995). Thoughts on the qualitative quantitative debate. Chicago, IL: National Council for the Social Studies. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. 392 734)

The focus of this paper is on the goals of both qualitative and quantative research and developing effective studies for the classroom. Brophy asserts that qualitative and quantitative methods are simply "tools" and should be evaluated from the standpoint of what questions they can answer best.

Bruyn, S. T. (1970). The new empiricists: The participant observer and phenomenologist. In W. J. Filstead (Ed.), Qualitative methodology: Firsthand involvement with the social world. Chicago: Markham, 283-287.

This article discusses the importance of phenomenology to qualitative research.

Bullock, R. (1995). Classroom Research in Graduate Methods Courses. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (46th, Washington, DC, March 23-25, 1995).

Examines first year graduate student-teachers and why they are distrustful of narrative or ethnographic research as opposed to empirical research.

Burroughs-Lange, S. G., & Lange, J. (1993). Denuded data! Grounded theory using the NUDIST computer analysis program: In researching the challenge to teacher self-efficacy posed by students with learning disabilities in Australian education. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Atlanta, GA. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 364 193)

The authors evaluate the use of the NUDIST (Non-numerical, Unstructured Data Indexing, Searching and Theorising) computer program to organize coded, qualitative data. NUDIST was used in the authors' study to develop a theoretical understanding of the challenge that students with learning disablities pose to neophyte teachers' newly-formed images of effectiveness.

Collier, J., & Collier, M. (1986). Visual anthropology: Photography as a research method. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

This work discusses the benefits and possibilities of including photography in anthropological and ethnographic research. The book includes sections on the role of the photographer in documenting a culture or group, how photographs function in the interviewing process, analyzing images, and the psychological significance of photography and visual images in conveying meaning.

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry.Educational Researcher, 19 (5), 2-14.

This article is a theoretical work on conducting narrative inquiry that focuses on the issues of transferability and generalizability in this field of research.

Coulon, A. (1995). Ethnomethodology (J. Coulon & J. Katz, Trans.). London: Sage.

This text covers the history and issues related to ethnomethodology.

Cross, G. (1994). Ethnographic Research in Business and Technical Writing: Between Extremes and Margins. Journal of Business and Technical Communication; v8 n1 p118-34 Jan.

Explores the phenomenal context, the site's cultural context, the research community context, and the researcher's interior context in business and technical writing.

Doheny-Farina, S. (1986). Writing in an emerging organization: An ethnographic study. Written Communication, 3, 158-85.

This article, gleaned from the author's doctoral dissertation, discusses his study of collaborative writing among executives at a new software firm. His methods included participant-observations, open-ended interviews, and Discourse-Based interviews.

Doheny-Farina, S. & Odell, L. (1985). Ethnographic research on writing: assumptions and methodology. In L. Odell &D. Goswami (Ed.), Writing in nonacademic settings. New York: Guilford, 503-535.

With a caution that researchers in English need to understand ethnography's basis in anthropology, this article outlines theoretical assumptions, methodologies, and the uses and limitations of ethnographic research.

Dyson, A. Haas. (1984). Learning to write/learning to do school: Emergent writers' interpretations of school literacy tasks. Research in the Teaching of English, 18, . 233-264.

This article is the report of an ethnographic study of kindergarten children which examined the relationship between their learning to write and their adapting to the culture of school. Data was collected several times per week over a fourteen week period. The researcher was a participant-observer who selected three case study children during the first phase of observation and studied them in context.

Ember,C. R., & Ember, M. (1973). Anthropology. New York: Appleton, Century, Crofts.


Fetterman, D. M. (1989). Ethnography: Step by step. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

As the title suggests, this is a how-to book on ethnographies and ethnographic research. The book answers the question: what is ethnographic research and outlines a step by step approach to conducting this type of research. Chapter subjects include methods and techniques of ethnographic fieldwork, equipment needed for ethnographic research, how to analyze your findings, the writing process, and ethics in ethnographic research.

Fielding, N. G., & Lee, R. M. (Ed.). (1991). Using computers in qualitative research. London: Sage.

This anthology contains 11 essays on computers and qualitative research. The topics include general information about types of qualitative research and software, implications for research, and qualitative knowledge and computing. This text provides valuable information on both the positive and negative aspects of using computers for qualitative research.

Filstead, W. J. (Ed.). (1970). Qualitative methodology: Firsthand involvement with the social world. Chicago: Markham.

This text is a collection of essays on qualitative methodologies.

Firestone, W. A. & Dawson, J. A. (June 1981). To ethnograph or not to ethnograph? Varieties of qualitative research in education. Philadelphia, PA: Research for Better Schools, Inc. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 222 985)

This paper addresses the advantages and disadvantages of using ethnographic studies and outlines six criteria for successfully using ethnographies in education studies. The authors also discuss five ways in which qualitative approaches can vary in terms of data collection.

Fitch, K. (1994). Criteria for Evidence in Qualitative Research. Western Journal of Communication; v58 n1 p32-38 Win.

Contributions and limitations of conversation analysis and postmodernism toward the enterprise of ethnographic research. Criteria for qualitative data as evidence for claims about social life and for a qualitative study to count as evidence.

Flake, C. (1992). Ethnography for Teacher Education: An Innovative Elementary School Social Studies Program in South Carolina. Social Studies; v83 n6 p253-57 Nov-Dec 1992.

Describes a teacher education program that utilizes an internship that includes an ethnographic research project. Explains that the teacher intern is required to conduct an in-depth analysis of the social studies being taught in their school as contrasted to that described in their textbooks. Includes resulting suggestions for improvement in the curriculum.

Gilbert, R. (1992). Text and context in qualitative educational research: Discourse analysis and the problem of contextual explanation. Linguistics and Education, 4, 37-57.

This article discusses methods of improving qualitative research in education.

Gilmore, D.D. (1991, Fall). Subjectivity and subjugation: Fieldwork in the stratified community. Human Organization, 215.

This article outlines an anthropologist's efforts to maintain scholarly neutrality in an agricultural town in Franco Spain where class conflict was severe.

Greenberg, J. H. (1954). A quantitative approach to the morphological typology of language. In R. F. Spencer (Ed.). Method and perspective in anthropology. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

The author compares and contrasts typological methods of languages against the genetic-historical method.

Hammersley,M., & Atkinson, P. (1983). Ethnography: Principles in practice. London: Taveston.

This work deals with what ethnographic research is, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how to go about conducting the research for your own project.

Hammersley, M. (1990). Reading ethnographic research: A critical guide. New York: Longman.

This book is a how-to manual on ethnographic research emphasizing understanding within unspoken contexts.

Hasselkus, B. R. (1995). Beyond ethnography: Expanding our understanding and criteria for qualitative research. Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 15, 75-84.

Hasselkus discusses the different methods of qualitative research.

Hathaway, R. (1995). Assumptions underlying quantitative and qualitative research: Implications for institutional research. Research in higher education, 36 (5), 535-562.

Hathaway says that the choice between using qualitative or quantitative approaches is less about methodology and more about aligning oneself with particular theoretical and academic traditions. He concluded that the two approaches address questions in very different ways, each one having its own advantages and drawbacks.

Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Heath studies two communities; one Black and one White, to analyze the citizens' language development.

Heath, S. B. (1993). The Madness(es) of Reading and Writing Ethnography. Anthropology and Education Quarterly; v24 n3 p256-68 Sep.

Describes how these reactions have led the author to see things in the work that she had not seen before. Strengths and weaknesses of the book she identifies have implications for the conduct of future ethnographic research.

Hinsley, C. M. (1981). Savages and scientists: The Smithsonian Institution and the development of American anthropology. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Hornberger, N. (1995). Ethnography in Linguistic Perspective: Understanding School Processes. Language and Education; v9 n4 p233-48.

Perspectives and methodologies that sociolinguistics brings to ethnographic research in schools. Methodological contributions arising from linguistics that interactional sociolinguistics and microethnograpy share, such as the use of naturally occurring language data, the consultation of native intuition, and discourse analysis.

This short Web site briefly describes qualitative research and gives an example of how it can be used to supplement quantitative studies in health care.

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (formerly Urban Life). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

This is a quarterly publication containing recent ethnographic studies and what's new in ethnography. This publication is a good source of information on and examples of how other researchers are conducting their own ethnographic studies

Kamil, M. L., Langer, J. A., & Shanahan, T. (1985). Ethnographic methodologies. Understanding research in reading and writing. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 71-91.

The chapter defines ethnographic research, examines its theoretical underpinnings, and contrasts it with experimental research. It includes an extended example from Heath's "Questioning at Home and at School: A Comparative Study."

Kirk, J. & Miller, M. (1986). Reliability and validity in qualitative research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

This book investigates how realiability and validity in qualitative research help to evaluate the objectivity of particular studies. The authors assert that given the true meaning of validity, many studies, including "scientific" ones, are not really valid. Also included are guidelines for maintaining reliability in qualitative studies.

Lancy, D. E. (1993). Qualitative research in education. White Plains, NY: Longman.

This text explores the many issues of qualitative research.

Lauer, J. M., & Asher, J. W. (1988). Ethnographies. Composition research: Empirical designs. New York: Oxford University Press, 39-53.

This chapter provides an overview of ethnographic research applied to English. It includes examples from two studies, Florio and Clark's "The function of writing in an elementary classroom" and Lemke and Bridwell's "Assessing writing ability--an ethnographic study of consultant-teacher relationships."

Lawless, E.J. (1992, Summer). I was afraid someone like outsider...would misunderstand: Negotiating interpretive differences between ethnographers and subjects. Journal of American Folklore, 302.

This article looks at the role of the ethnographer in the collection of field research and writing. A new approach called "reciprocal ethnography" allows for interaction with the ethnographer.

Lazerfeld, P. F. (1972). Qualitative analysis: Historical and critical essays. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

This text deals with the issues of qualitative research.

LeCompte, M. D., Millroy, W. L., & Preissle, J. (Ed.). (1992). The handbook of qualitative research in education. San Diego: Academic Press.

This anthology contains 18 essays on qualitative research in education. The topics range from the future of qualitative research to issues of validity and subjectivity in qualitative research. This text is a good source for those interested in current theories about and research on qualitative research itself.

Lier, L. (1988). The classroom and the language learner. New York: Longman.

The author argues for collecting and interpreting of classroom data (L-2 learning) in the presence of only limited knowledge of the process of teaching and learning in second language classrooms. This book sets out to define problems of classroom research within second language acquisition study and within social science. And, it offers a well documented guide for conducting research in the context of the classroom.

Lincoln, Y.S., & Guba, E.G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

This text outlines the positivist and naturalist research paradigms.

Linstead, S. (1993, Jan.). From postmodern anthropology to deconstructive ethnography. Human Relations, 97.

This article studies the effects of ethnography and postmodern influences on organizations. Derridian deconstruction theory is applied in order to get a new angle on social interactions within organizations.

Manwar, A., Johnson, B. D., & Dunlap, E. (1994). Qualitative data analysis with hypertext: A case of New York City crack dealers. Qualitative Sociology, 17, 283-292.

The authors describe some of the problems of data management and analysis faced by a team of ethnographers researching cocaine and crack distributuion in New York City. The researchers used FolioVIEWS, a hypertext software program, which proved to be more effective than other available programs in solving managment and analytical problems.

Marshall, C. & Rossman, G. (1995). Designing qualitative research. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

This book explains different types of qualitative studies and provides thorough instruction on how to design, conduct and evaluate a qualitative study. It also includes helpful information on managing time, personnel and financial resources for qualitative research.

Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

This text covers data analysis issues related to qualitative research.

Minnich, R. G. (Ed.). (1987). Aspects of Polish folk culture. Bergen, Norway: Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen.

This text is a good source of examples for work done in the field of ethnography dealing with culture and literature. The work is a compilation of ethnographic studies by different authors done on topics ranging from the role played by gifts in Polish weddings to the role of art in Polish society. Through the reports included in this work, Minnich draws a clearer picture of Polish folk culture.

Minnis, J. R. (1985). Ethnography, case study, grounded theory, and distance education research. Distance Education, 6, 189-198.

Minnis explores the possibility of expanding the research base through the use of accepted qualitative methodologies.

Moores, S. (1993). Interpreting audiences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

This text characterizes features of ethnography as a method of cultural investigation. It provides a discussion of the opposing, alternative perspectives on various forms of media reception and how ethnographic practice best equips researchers to map the media's varied uses and meanings for particular social subjects in particular cultural contexts.

Mortensen, P. & Kirsch, G., Eds. (1996). Ethics and Representation in Qualitative Studies of Literacy.Urbana, IL: ERIC.

Fourteen essays address questions faced by qualitative researchers today: how to represent others and themselves in research narratives; how to address ethical dilemmas in research-participant relations; and how to deal with various rhetorical, institutional, and historical constraints on research.

Narayan, K. (1989). Storytellers, saints, scoundrels: Folk narrative in Hindu religious teaching. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

The author relates hindu stories and their significance to education, both moral and religious.

Newkirk, T. (1991). The politics of composition research: The conspiracy against experience. In R. Bullock & J. Trimbur (Eds.), The politics of writing instruction: Postsecondary. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 119-135.

The author argues for the importance of ethnographic research in English education from a political perspective. He cites its key strengths over experimental research--particularity, involvement of the researcher, underlying ideology--the very characteristics which experimentalists criticize. Newkirk asserts that ethnographic research empowers practitioners.

Patton, M. Q. (1992). Ethnography and research: A qualitative view. Topics in Language Disorders, 12, 1-14.

This article describes the functions of ethnography in the fields of education and communication disorders.

Patton, M. Q. (1980). Qualitative evaluation methods. Beverly Hills: Sage.

This book is an in depth study of qualitative research from conceptual issues to data analysis.

Rice-Lively. (1994). Wired Warp and Woof: An Ethnographic Study of a Networking Class. Internet Research; v4 n4 p20-35 Win.

Describes an ethnographic study of the electronic community comprised of masters and doctoral students involved in a seminar on networking. Ethnographic research facilitated observation and description of the networked learning community. The exploration of the cultural meaning of class events led to enhanced understanding of online education and the applicability of ethnographic research.


Richards, L., & Richards, T. (1993). Qualitative computing: promises, problems, and implications for research process. Qualitative data analysis resources Home Page. [On-line]. Available WWW: address

Based on their experience with qualitative research software, the authors examine both the positive and negative aspects of this technology.

Rosen, M. (1991, Jan.). Coming to terms with the field: Understanding and doing organizational ethnography. Journal of Management Studies, 1.

Ethnography is not well understood or applied as a methodology for studying organization culture. This article highlights problems and offers tools for effective research in this arena.

Sanday, P. R. (1979). The ethnographic paradigms(s). Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 527-538.

Three styles of ethnography are examined: holistic, semiotic, and behavioristic.

Saville-Troike, M. (1989). The ethnography of communication (2nd ed.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

This text is a synthesis of the field of ethnography of communication, which studies the norms of communicative conduct in different communities and deals with methods for studying these norms.

Schmid, T. (1992). Classroom-Based Ethnography: A Research Pedagogy. Teaching Sociology; v20 n1 p28-35 Jan.

Discusses difficulties of classroom-based research and obstacles to conducting classroom-based ethnographic research. Identifies temporal obstacles, personnel, safety, and traditional classroom orientation. Suggests experiential approaches for fieldwork instructors such as individual projects, a choice of group projects, or a single designated class project. Describes a cooperative project on homelessness.

Shanahan, T., Ed. Teachers Thinking, Teachers Knowing: Reflections on Literacy and Language Education. Urbana, IL: ERIC.

Thirteen essays share the insights of leading scholars and teacher-researchers regarding the re-emergence of teacher education as a central focus in the field of English education. Discusses methods of supporting teacher development such as the study of cases, teacher groups, ethnographic research in the classroom and community, and teacher lore.

Smith, G.W. (1990, Nov.) Political activist as ethnographer. Social Problems, 629.

Two studies that use Dorothy E. Smith's reflexive materialist method of sociology are presented; the studies examine the social organization of ruling regimes with an aim toward changing them.

Snyder, I. (1995). Multiple perspectives in literacy research: Integrating the quantitative and qualitative. Language and Education, 9 (1), 45-59.

This article explains a study in which the author employed quantitative and qualitative methods simultaneously to compare computer composition classrooms and traditional classrooms. Although there were some problems with integrating both approaches, Snyder says they can be used together if researchers plan carefully and use their methods thoughtfully.

Tallerico, M. (1992). Computer technology for qualitative research: Hope and humbug. Journal of Educational Administration, 30 (2), 32-40.

The author describes how computer technology offers new options for the qulitative researcher in education. Tallerico also identifies both the potential benefits and limitations of research software, drawing on a study of local educational governance. She also decribes the ETHNOGRAPH, a data analysis program.

Tesch, R. (1991). Software for qualitative researchers: Analysis needs and program capabilities. In N. G. Fielding & R. M. Lee (Ed.), Using computers in qualitative research. London: Sage, 16-37.

Tesch begins by explaining the different types of qualitative research. She goes on to define the general categories of computer software available to qualitative researchers and gives advice on what functions and features to look for when choosing software.

Thornton, S. & Garrett, K. (1995). Ethnography as a Bridge to Multicultural Practice. Journal of Social Work Education; v31 n1 p67-74 Win.

Ethnographic research method taught as a way of studying different cultural groups in a social work curriculum.

Turner, E. (1992). Experiencing ritual: A new interpretation of African healing. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

This text reports an anthropology, the story of a "visible spirit" from among the Ndembu of Zambia. This work gives an account of the ethnographer's experience living with the Ndembu and attempting to parallel Ndembu life.

Van Maanen, J. (1979). The fact of fiction in organizational ethnography. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 539-550.

Van Maanen discusses the need to distinguish whether the point of view reported is that of informant or of researcher.

Van Maanen, J. (1988). Tales of the field. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

In this book, the author provides an informal introduction to ethnography addressed to fieldworkers of sociology or anthropology.

Weitzman, E. A., & Miles, M. B. (1995). Computer programs for qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Weitzman and Miles discuss the different functions of qualitative research software. They also categorize the software currently available and explain and review each program. This text provides valuable information for any researcher who is choosing software for qualitative research.

Wu, R. (1994). Writing In and Writing Out: Some Reflections on the Researcher's Dual Role in Ethnographic Research. Paper presented at the Annual Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition (University Park, PA, July 13-16).

Proposes "a more fluid, process-oriented definition of the ethnographer's role based on feminist standpoint theories to acknowledge the complexity of multicultural observers and observed."

Zaharlick, A. (1992). Ethnography in anthropology and its value for education. Theory into Practice, 31, 116-125.

This article examines the role of ethnography in anthropology.

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