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ENC 1102 (Pinkerton)

Primary Source Research on Your Chosen Community

After learning about important Writing Studies concepts through your secondary research, you will be observing your chosen community and seeing how those concepts come to life.

To use research terminology, you will be doing a type of qualitative research called an ethnography. Since you are studying communication in an online (rather than in-person) environment, we can call your project a digital ethnography. The method you will use to obtain data about your community is observation. You will record your observations in field notes, and then analyze the information in your field notes. This process of analyzing the data in your notes is called coding.

To find more information about research methods, the library database called Sage Research Methods is an excellent resource. I've included definitions of research terms related to your project below. These definitions are from The Sage Encyclopedia of Communication Research, an online book included in the Sage database.

Ethnography: is a qualitative research method in which a researcher—an ethnographer—studies a particular social/cultural group with the aim to better understand it 

Qualitative Data: textual data that are produced in the form of participants’ transcribed or researchers’ descriptive accounts 

Online observation: examining the language and communicative patterns within online communities and creating sets of field notes from those observations 

Field notes: written observations recorded during or immediately following participant observations in the field and are considered critical to understanding phenomena encountered in the field

Primary Data Analysis: the original analysis of data collected for a research study, the process of making sense of the collected data to answer research questions

Coding: the process of determining important ideas out of the data, data are separated into sections that represent different ideas or themes