A Simple Guide on How to Write an Ethnography

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Ethnography is a lengthy description prepared to create awareness and develop a better understanding of social models in a cultural context. Mostly, anthropologists and sociologists write ethnography papers for a large group of people after examining and observing the experiences and behaviors of humans. Typically, ethnographic research focuses on the functions of society by studying its members within the natural settings. When compared to articles and journals, ethnography papers are unique because they connect their discoveries to social theories. In case, you are unsure how to write an ethnography, take a look at this blog post.

For your comprehension, here, we have presented an overview of ethnography and explained how to conduct ethnography research. Also, we have shared the steps for writing an ethnography. Read this comprehensive guide and understand ethnographic writing so that you can effortlessly compose ethnography assignments, ethnographic essays, and ethnographic research papers.

What is Ethnography?

The term “ethnography” has a Greek origin. “Ethos” means “people,” and “graphic” means “to write.” Therefore, we can simply conclude that an ethnography paper is about people. In general, ethnography is a kind of research method that plays a key role in exploring the experiences, feelings, lifestyles, and thoughts of people about the world they live. As a part of ethnography research, ethnographers will closely observe, gather data, and examine how people communicate, solve conflicts, work together as a team, etc by using different methods such as surveys, face-to-face, interaction, and so on. After the subject analysis, an ethnography paper will be prepared.

Ethnography is one of the effective tools in the field of social sciences such as cultural anthropology. Especially, to study the beliefs and customs of people, anthropologists predominantly use ethnography. Furthermore, to examine human behavior, several marketers, political scientists, journalists, leaders in education and healthcare, sociologists, and many others also use ethnography. For example, marketers analyze the behavior of their target customers using ethnography.

Ultimate Purpose of an Ethnography

There are several reasons why ethnography research is conducted. Here, let us look at some common reasons for performing ethnographic study.

  • Helps to illustrate how various events and/or persons are linked to specific outcomes
  • Plays a major role in comprehending the dynamics of a group, community, or culture
  • Fosters knowledge of one’s cultural customs as well as those of others from other cultures
  • Examines the impact that a program or policy has on a specific community

Furthermore, by using ethnography, you can learn more about why you think and act the way you do. Additionally, it will make you more culturally aware so that you can collaborate efficiently. Ethnography has proven to be useful for researching populations that include children, people from various cultures, and those affected by a program or policy.

Learn How to Write an Ethnography

How to Write an Ethnography

In case, you are confused about how to write an ethnography, take a look below. Here, we have explained the steps for conducting ethnographic research and writing an ethnographic paper.

Select a good topic

The first step in the preparation of an ethnography paper is topic selection. So, based on your interest, choose any research topic or issue that you wish to explore. It is always good to pick any topic that was not covered in the existing literature.

Frame a strong thesis statement

After choosing a perfect topic, develop a powerful thesis statement for your ethnography paper. The thesis statement should be an argument that describes the purpose of your ethnographic research. Specifically, the statement should mention the problem or question you are trying to address in your paper. However, in your thesis statement, instead of stating the actual questions, you should make sure to specify the core idea of your argument.

Also Read: Can a Thesis Statement be a Question?

Conduct literature review

Next, perform a deep review by reading the existing literature and theories that are relevant to your research topic. Conducting a literature review will help you create a strong context for your argument.

Build hypotheses when necessary

If your research topic requires certain hypotheses or questions to be answered, then concentrate on them all. State any hypotheses you intend to test in the experiment, as well as explain why the question is relevant and how it adds value to existing research. Also, it is critical to remember that a hypothesis should be a single claim and not numerous claims connected by “and” or “or.”

Choose a data collection method

Next, choose an appropriate data collection method for your research topic and argument. Usually, ethnographers collect data by talking to people, artifacts, photographs, or videos. The two most popular data collection methods are qualitative research and quantitative research. So, out of these two, choose any method that suits well for your topic.

·    Quantitative Research

As the name implies, this method focuses on numerical data that can be represented using many graphs and charts. This strategy entails gathering information using closed-ended surveys and questionnaires, experiments, and observations. Here, the outcomes are documented using numerical data.

·   Qualitative Research

A method like this implies a complete understanding of components. In the qualitative method, open-ended surveys are carried out together with group polls. Additionally, it involves the field notes gathered while observing the participants.

Gather Data

Once you have finalized a data collection method, start collecting data. As per the topic you have chosen, collect data by conducting observations, taking photographs, interviewing participants, etc. Even you can gather artifacts if they are essential for your ethnographic research.

Analyze Data

The next step in ethnography paper preparation is data analysis. In this step, you will have to conduct a deep analysis of the data that you have collected. Even though it’s not always necessary, some researchers will wait to complete their analysis until they are certain that their entire data gathering has been completed. However, it’s always preferable to inform your readers about the date and method of your data analysis for your work as well as when you have finished gathering data.

Sketch an Outline

After finishing your extensive research and comprehensive analysis, start composing an ethnography paper. But, before you begin writing an ethnography essay on the topic you have chosen, be certain to draft a neat and well-structured ethnography research paper outline. The outline will guide you in presenting all your findings in the final draft of the paper without missing any.

Prepare an Ethnography Paper

Following the creation of an outline, begin writing an ethnography paper. In your paper, make sure to include all your research findings and provide a valid answer to your research question with a detailed explanation and analysis. But remember, the ethnography research paper that you compose should be well-organized, plagiarism-free, and informative. Also, in your paper, feel free to use references from relevant theories or articles. Note that, the paper must contain proper citations for all the used references.

Proofread and Edit

Editing and proofreading are the last steps in the ethnography writing process. After you finish composing the paper, proofread it to make sure there are no errors. Even you can ask your colleagues to review your content and you can make the necessary changes as per their feedback. Also, at this point, assess whether your paper covers the main idea of your thesis statement or not. Keep in mind that the final draft that is error-free and accurate is ready for submission.

Essential Components of an Ethnography Paper

So far, we have seen how to write an ethnography. Simply by following the steps suggested above, you can very well come up with an extraordinary ethnography research paper. But when you compose the paper, you should structure and format it properly by including some essential sections as listed below.


The introduction is the opening paragraph of an ethnography paper that should be written with no jargon. Since it is the first section that readers will encounter, it should be prepared in an attention-grabbing manner. Remember, in your introductory paragraph, you should provide background details of the issue that you are writing about. In addition to that, you must include an argumentative thesis statement and an explanation of the topic’s research significance.

The thesis statement is a powerful statement that discusses the main idea of the research in one or two sentences. The purpose of the thesis statement is to make the readers aware of how significant the investigated societal issue is.

Literature Review

A literature review is an examination of previous research on your study topic. Just by obtaining background information, you can get a deeper understanding of the significance of your study topic. Specifically, during a literature review, you should look at the theme, research techniques and findings, benefits and drawbacks, and how your study will advance existing research. In your ethnography paper, you can include one to five publications on your research topic. Mostly, the length of your ethnographic paper will determine the total publications you will have to include in this section.


The next essential part of an ethnography paper is the research methodology. In this section, you will have to provide details on data collection methods along with the constraints and biases involved in the process. In particular, your methodology section should describe how and what research data you have collected for your ethnographic research.

Data Analysis

The interpretation of the data you have acquired is an element of data analysis. In this section, you will have to mention the importance of data and connect it to a thesis statement. Even, depends on your data and the preferences of your audience, here, you can include graphs of your data.


Another important section to be included in an ethnography paper is Reflexivity. In this section, you will have to explain why you decided to perform a research study and what limits you encountered. Including this section will help you eliminate any bias that the audience may have about your participation in the research study. Furthermore, this section might aid you in the elimination of any ambiguity in your data. Remember to mention what contribution your research work makes to your field of study.


The conclusion is the last part of an ethnography paper where you will have to restate your argument in the thesis statement and explain how your study fits into the overall body of research on this topic. When you compose a conclusion section, use simple words that are easily understandable to your readers. Avoid using jargon as well.


Hopefully, by now, you will have gained a better understanding of how to write an ethnography. In case, you are still confused about how to perform ethnographic research or if you are unsure how to write a great ethnography essay or research paper, call us immediately.

Jacob Smith Research Paper Topics Reading Time: 9 minutes

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