DeVry University West Suburban Community Pantry Ethnographic Report

Question Description

Ethnographic Study: Field Research in a Workplace Setting


An ethnography, also referred to as field research, is a qualitative research method in which the researcher can directly observe what goes on at the research site as well as participate, including asking questions. It is a useful method for studying small groups, such as work groups, in their natural setting. Ethnography is the term used by cultural anthropologists for conducting field research. Sociologists tend to use the term field research or participant observation. Ethno means “people” and graphy means “to describe something.” Ethnography is describing people and/or their culture from their perspectives. In other words, ethnography describes the meaning of the situation from the point of view of the participants. How do the participants under study make sense of the world in which they are participating? Ethnographers and field researchers are interested in explicit knowledge, which is a description of what happens, say, at a company holiday party. They are also interested in tacit knowledge, which includes the unspoken or taken-for-granted norms that govern a company holiday party, of which participants are usually unaware. In other words, field research takes place in a natural setting where the researcher attempts to understand the social meanings and different perspectives of the people whom the researcher is studying.


Suggested steps for carrying out an ethnographic project are as follows:

  1. Prepare yourself by reading the relevant scholarly literature. Discover what other researchers have to say about the topic you are researching.
  2. Decide what field research role you will play. Will you be a complete observer? That is, will you gain access to the department and watch what goes on? Will you participate as a worker in the department while you observe what is going on? Will you be both an observer and a participant, watching and interviewing department employees?
  3. Review the research ethics of conducting field research. Information is available in the textbook and you are encouraged to seek out research ethics for this purpose, as well, via Web research.
  4. Enter the research area and establish relations with the people you will be studying.
  5. Watch, listen, and collect data.
  6. Begin to analyze the data, generate a description of what the department is doing, and develop working hypotheses.
  7. Continue your field research, conducting focused interviews with relevant individuals.
  8. Disengage and leave the department.
  9. Complete your analysis and write your report.

Additional Guidelines for the final paper:

  • Papers must be between 6 to 8 pages in length (this would be roughly 1 page per area included in the report), 10 point font, double-spaced. Include a cover page, table of contents, introduction, body of the report, summary or conclusion, and works cited.
  • Even though this is not a scientific-type writing assignment, and is mostly creative in nature, references are still very important. At least five authoritative, outside references are required (anonymous authors or web pages are not acceptable). These should be listed on the last page titled “Works Cited.”
  • Appropriate citations are required.
  • All DeVry University policies are in effect including the plagiarism policy.
  • Papers are due during Week 7 of this course.
  • Any questions about this paper may be discussed in the weekly Q A Discussion topic.
  • This paper is worth 125 total points and will be graded on quality of research topic, quality of paper information, use of citations, grammar, and sentence structure.


Week 1: Review the course project. Post any questions to the Course Q & A Forum in the Introduction and Resources module.

Week 2: A proposal for your course project is due this week. This proposal should include the following:

  • A description of the organization you have chosen and your relationship to it. This can be a workplace or an organization where you volunteer. (1-2 paragraphs)
  • A discussion of your goals for conducting a cultural analysis of the organization you have chosen and the potential value of such an analysis. (1-2 paragraphs)
  • An explanation of your strategy for conducting research. There are two kinds of research you will be doing: (1) examining secondary sources, such as scholarly books and articles, for relevant background information on organizational culture and communication, and (2) conducting your own ethnographic research, which can include observation, interviews, and qualitative surveys. For now, discuss your plan for researching secondary sources and which method or methods you plan to use for your ethnography (observation, interviews, and/or qualitative surveys, discussed in chapters 6 and 7 and “An Introduction to Step Three” in your text. (1-2 paragraphs)
  • Please ensure your paper is in APA format, which requires double spacing and a title page. Include a working title for your project.

Week 5: A progress report for your course project paper is due this week. This progress report should incorporate the following guidelines:

  • Include an APA-formatted title page with your working title.
  • Include a reference page with at least five scholarly sources, cited in APA format. Scholarly sources include your textbook and books and articles obtained through the DeVry library. Credible articles from news, government (.gov), or academic (.edu) websites can also be used; acceptable examples include NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Business Week.
  • In your report, discuss your progress on the project thus far, explaining what research you have conducted, the methods you have used, what remains to be done, and how you plan to organize and analyze your data. Also, discuss which concepts from the course material you plan to use in your analysis. Your report should be 2-3 pages, double-spaced, in APA format.

Week 7: Your final course project paper is due this week. See the “Guidelines” section above and “Best Practices” section below for a full list of items to include in your paper.

Grading Rubrics

Course Project Proposal (Week 2)

Category Points % Description
Content 24 80% Proposal includes description of selected organization and your relationship to the organization (12 points) Goals for conducting a cultural analysis outlined (12 points)
Formatting 6 20% Proposal properly formatted to APA standards
Total for Proposal 30 100% A quality proposal will meet or exceed all of the above requirements

Course Project Progress Report (Week 5)

Category Points % Description
Content 15 33% Progress outlined including research conducted, methods used, organization, and data analysis
References 15 33% At least five scholarly references included in progress report
Formatting 15 33% Uses proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling
Total for Progress Report 45 100% A quality proposal will meet or exceed all of the above requirements

Course Project Final Paper (Week 7)

Category Points % Description
Content 75 60% Address each component of the assignment (discussion of methods used, review of previous literature, presentation of data, analysis and interpretation of data), integrating concrete examples and strategies and using information from observations and scholarly sources to support points
Documentation & Formatting 15 12% Follows correct APA format, including a title and reference page with at least five credible scholarly sources
Organization & Cohesiveness 15 12% Cohesive and well-organized, with a clear introduction and a conclusion that effectively summarizes the paper’s key points
Editing 10 8% Uses proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling
Length 10 8% Meets minimum length requirement of 6 to 8 pages
Total for Final Paper 125 100% A quality final paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements

Best Practices

The following are the best practices in preparing your final paper:

  • Cover Page – Include who you prepared the paper for, who prepared it, and the date.
  • Table of Content – List the main ideas and section of your paper and the pages in which they are located. The illustrations should be included separately.
  • Introduction – Use a header on your paper. This will indicate you are introducing your paper.The purpose of an introduction or opening:

    1. Introduce the subject and why the subject is important.
    2. Preview the main ideas and the order in which they will be covered.
    3. Establish a tone of the document.

    Include in the introduction a reason for the audience to read the paper. Also, include an overview of what you are going to cover in your paper and the importance of the material. (This should include or introduce the questions you are asked to answer on each assignment.)

  • Body of Your Report – Use a header titled with the name of your project. Example: “The Development of Hotel X – A World Class Resort”. Then, proceed to break out the main ideas. State the main ideas, state major points in each idea, and provide evidence. Break out each main idea you will use in the body of your paper. Show some type of division like separate sections that are labeled; separate groups of paragraphs; or headers. You would include the information you found during your research and investigation.
  • Summary and Conclusion – Summarizing is similar to paraphrasing but presents the gist of the material in fewer words than the original. An effective summary identifies the main ideas and major support points from the body of your report. Minor details are left out. Summarize the benefits of the ideas and how they effect the tourism industry.
  • Works Cited – Use the citation format as specified in the Syllabus.

Additional hints on preparing the best possible project:

  1. Apply a three step process of writing: Plan, Write, and Complete.
  2. Prepare an outline of your research paper before you go forward.
  3. Complete a first draft and then go back to edit, evaluate, and make any changes required.
  4. Use visual communication to further clarify and support the written part of your report: Example graphs, diagrams, photographs, flowcharts, maps, drawings, animation, video clips, pictograms, tables, and Gantt charts.

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Prof. Angela


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