Assignment Sheet
Project III – Writing in the Social Sciences – Ethnographic Observation/Field Study

Length & Formatting: 5-7 pages (Double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1” margins, no enlarged periods)
Grading Weight: 20% of your final grade
Citation Style:  APA
Due Dates:
Topic Proposal: Friday March 4th 2011

Rough Draft: Thursday, March 24th 2011 (Observation notes to be included.)
Individual Conferencing: Friday, March 25th & Monday, March 28th 2011
Peer Review: Tuesday, March 29th 2011
In-Class Drafting Day: Thursday, March 31st 2011

Final Draft: Friday, April 1st 2011

General Direction & Purpose:
The social sciences provide an opportunity to explore culture, religion, ethnicity, family, and ultimately oneself. For this paper you will participate in an ethnographic observation and create a subsequent study from your findings. You will observe a place or event populated by people; these people should be interacting to some degree. Where you go and whom you choose to observe is up to you.

Imagine that you are a social scientist (or Harriet -- or Harry -- the spy), with a research question that you would like answered. To do this, you will conduct field research, which consists of information you collect firsthand; the most common kinds include interviews, surveys, or, in your case, observation. Such information can give you insights into your topic that you could not get through print or electronic sources.

Consider the following questions when beginning to think about conducting primary research:
  • What do I want to discover?
  • How do I plan on discovering it? (This is called your research methods or methodology)
  • Who am I going to observe? (These people are called your subjects or participants)
  • How am I going to be able gain access to these groups or individuals?
  • What are my biases about this topic?
  • How can I make sure my biases are not reflected in my research methods?

  You will write this project as if you were reporting your results to other researchers in your field.

Organization Criteria: The field research report will consist of:
  • a copy of your observation notes (due on the day your rough draft is due)
  • an abstract
  • a section providing an introduction and background information about these particular subjects to observe and their relevance to your research question.
  • a section discussing methods of your research (one hour of observation at 8am, five days in the third week of the month, weather conditions, external factors, etc.)
  • a section discussing the results and discussion of the data/information you collected. What did you learn? What does it mean?
  • a section of limitations and conclusions: imagine that your observation is a preliminary one, and that you plan to expand it. How could you improve your observation? What were some of the weaknesses of your study? What would you change next time? What would you keep the same

For this project, I will be evaluating your adherence to the formatting guidelines that we will lay out in class; your use of passive voice and objective language; your research methods, and especially your conclusion, as this will be a subject of a peer review session.

While your topic must be approved by me, you can choose to observe whomever you like, in whatever environment/situation you like. For example, you may observe NC State college students in the library; you may observe patrons at a coffee shop; you may observe people in a park. The only specification is that you choose a public place, frequented by a variety of people.