The researchers are expected to follow the following measures while conducting an ethnographic research:
1. Multiple Techniques: The researcher has to use multiple observation and inquiry techniques in the field since each techniques have some unique strengths. The researcher might get insights from a variety of ethnographic approaches.
2. Modification: The researcher can modify the ethnographic guide as and when required during the study. The guide may be revised during the study if the inquiry results in interesting findings that lead the team in a new direction.
3. Flexibility: The researcher should be flexible enough to probe for insights when surprises arise. The researcher should look for clues which might materialize based on observing the user in the natural context of use.
4. Team Work: The researcher should work as tem in the field. Since each team member will have diverse set of expertise, and these expertise which the team members have should be utilized properly while conducting the study. All of the researchers should be given equal opportunity to observe and to question the respondents, and they should all be motivated to draw their own conclusions as to what was learned.
5. Data Capturing: The researcher should capture relevant visual accounts. To some degree this is merely a more robust record than merely telling those who were not in the field what was observed.
Ethnographers can collect immense quantities of material to illustrate what people believe and how they behave in everyday situations; therefore, data analysis can be demanding (Roper & Shapira, 2000). The first step is to understand the material which was collected. Understanding the process is inductive in nature where the researcher begins from learning the data instead of starting with preconceived notions about the subject matter (Roper & Shapir, 2000; Saldaña, 2015). The researcher can also analyze the data while the data is being collected, this ensures discovery of additional themes by the researcher and he can decide whether to follow those leads for more intense investigation (Roper & Shapira, 2000). Some of the strategies of ethnographic analysis recommended by Roper and Shapira (2000) are:
1. Coding: Since the data collected are in the form of written words, those words must first be grouped into important categories or descriptive labels, then organized to evaluate, contrast and identify patterns. Coding reduces the data to a manageable size. Before one begins the coding process, the researcher should formulate basic domains that can categorize a broad range of phenomena, for example, research setting, events, associations and social structure, types of activities, process, meanings, and repeated phrases.
2. Sorting: The next step is to sort or group the descriptive labels into smaller ones. Here the researcher develops themes from those groupings and ensures possible connections between the information.
3. Identifying Outliers: The next step is to identify the cases, events, or settings that do not fit with the rest of the findings. This helps the researcher to find out whether he needs to collect more data on those cases or not?
4. Theory Development: By reviewing the previous literature, the researcher tries to ensure that the results are related to theories in order to make sense of the rich and complex data collected.
5. Memoing with Insightful Comments: Memos refers to insights or ideas that one has about the data. Memos help the researcher to keep trail of their opinions, assumptions, and biases and opinions during the entire research process.
Quality in Ethnographic Study
To control for quality in ethnographic research three issues have been identified by Neuman (2002) namely responsiveness, reliability and validity:
1. Responsiveness: responsiveness refers to the degree to which the researcher’s presence influences the behaviors of others since they know they are being observed. This may lead to participants to act differently. The effect of responsiveness can be reduced if the researcher is inconspicuous and familiarizes himself with the lives of others before he starts the fieldwork.
2. Reliability: Reliability refers to consistency and credibility. Data are internally consistent when the researcher records behaviors that are consistent over time and in different social contexts. If the researcher cross-checks the data collected by verifying with other sources then internal consistency can be achieved. Since ethnographic researchers depend on what others opinion the credibility of the source of information received needs to be assessed. The information shared by others could be in the forms of omissions, propaganda, evasions, and dishonest (Neuman, 2002; Denzin, & Lincoln, 2000). Reliability in field research will depend on the researcher’s knowledge, awareness, questions put forth to the participants and also observing the behaviors and events from diverse perspectives and angles.
3. Validity: Validity refers to the confidence placed in the researcher’s ability to collect and analyze data precisely, representing the lives or culture under study (Neuman, 2002; Bernard, 2017). Ecological validity considers the degree to which the data collected and explained by the researcher reflects the world of those under study (Neuman, 2002). Natural history is a full description and disclosure of the researcher’s events, justifications, and procedures for others to evaluate. Natural history is achieved if it is credible to others inside and outside the field site. The researcher can also conduct member checks for validating the results by showing the results to those under study to judge for adequacy and accuracy from their perspectives (Neuman, 2002). In addition, the researcher should perform well in the group and interact with all the members of the group. Finally, nomological validity can be achieved if the study results and conclusions have relevance beyond the study itself (Angrosino, 2007; Hatch, 2002).