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Observation Paper Assignment Sheet

As we have seen through the examples of ethnographic research we’ve read this semester, this type of writing includes quite a bit of description and concrete detail. Because, as the ethnographic researcher, you are not relying on the work of others, you must establish yourself as the expert. You will make statements about your field site and subculture, and you must support those statements by including pertinent details. In other words, you will need to find a way for your reader to see your site through your eyes.

In your observation paper, you will develop the descriptive and reflective style of writing you will need to use in the final ethnographic essay, which will be similar to the examples we have read in class. I’d like to see you take this opportunity to develop an engaging and livelywriting style through the use of first person (I, me), vivid details, original metaphors, and reflection on your field site and subculture.

Goals for This Assignment

  • To use your field notes as the basis for a finished piece of writing
  • To consider, before you write, how you want your writing to affect your reader
  • To blend objective and reflexive writing into a cohesive piece
  • To write using vivid and concrete details that appeal to the senses
  • To incorporate conversation into your writing

The Document

Write a 3- to 4-page observation paper that must include the following:

  • First-person writing (I, me) that blends objective details with reflexive reactions.
  • A variety of sensory details (NOT only visual).
  • Concrete and vivid images and details that involve/impact the reader.
  • Writing that shows your readers the field site rather than tells them about it.
  • Word choice that creates and builds a mood, atmosphere, ambiance, etc.
  • Conversation summaries, quotes, insider terms, or stories that contribute to your observations.
  • An introduction that draws the reader into your observation.
  • A logical organization scheme that leads your reader through the field site.
  • A conclusion that summarizes what you’ve learned about the subculture through the observation as well as what you hope to pursue in the next step of your research.

This paper must be typed. It must have double-spacing, one-inch margins, and a 12-point font. It should make use of a title, paragraphs, transitions, proper grammar, appropriate word usage, and correct spelling. If you have questions about the observation paper, you may send me an email.

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