Ethnography: Process Page

last update: August 2022

Included on this page are instructions for what should go into a applied ethnography-based Process Page. While anyone in IAD can view this page at any time, please know that this page is specifically set up for an assignment that occurs at the end of IAD3300 (Ethnography for Designers). If you have questions, please contact Prof. Lahey via Discord or email.



Executive Summary

This section acts as a summary of your entire page. Or, put differently, what are the important things someone might want to know at a glance? This is an important section for job recruiters and the early stages of the interview process. You should include all the information below in some order and format that makes sense for you:

Approach. Applied ethnography, including a very brief explanation of what applied ethnography is (not more than a sentence or so).

Challenges. Bullet pointed and brief (you will elaborate below): What challenges did you face? How did you deal with them? What lessons did you learn?

Duration. How long did you work on this project?

Links. Include links to all important files and/or other relevant information.

Recap of project. Bullet pointed and brief (you will elaborate below): What was your field, research question, cohering metaphor? Finally, what did you learn (i.e., results)?

Role. What was your specific role?

Team size. How many people were on your team?

Tools. What tools did you use to complete this project?


In this section, you will lay out what the reader will experience in more detail. The goal of an introduction is to set the scene for the reader and explain to them what will happen on this page. This includes explaining what will happen in each section.

  • Storytelling is impactful. Consider starting with a short story about something related to your field. This story also serves to draw in your reader and give more context to your Process Page. This could be an experience someone on the team saw in the field that helps set the stage for the reader.
  • Introduce applied ethnography, your field, your research question, and cohering metaphor in more depth than you did during the Exec. Summary. You need to define ethnography-related jargon in your own words and explain its importance.
  • Be clear that this was a class project and how applied ethnography was adapted for this project. This helps set expectations for the reader.
  • You should consider including the names and images of people on the team, including a link to their Portfolios.)
  • Explain how the rest of the page is set up.
An image of three men in suits talking to one another.


In this section, you need to clearly explain your method -- applied ethnography. Can you explain what ethnography is in your own words? Can you explain how applied ethnography differs from ethnography? Can you be specific about what an applied ethnography entails? Please note that contextual research is part of the method for ethnography (revisit Erkisson & Kovalainen here for more information).

Finally, you need to explain that this project was done for a class, there was a time frame, and that this was a team-based project.


In this section, you'll need to answer a few questions related to your field (see the list below). Additionally, you should, as with every step below (i.e., recruitment, fieldwork, analysis), explain why you do recruiting. Why would an applied ethnographer do recruiting?


In this section, you'll lay out the fieldwork the team did. Why do applied ethnographers do fieldwork?
In doing so, you will consider the following points:

You need to talk about both core components of fieldwork -- observation and interviewing.


  • How did you do observation? How did you keep a journal? (Explain how our Journals were set up, bifurcated into jottings and field notes.)
  • How many hours of observation did your team do? How many did you do? How many sessions did you have? How active was it? Et cetera.
  • Explain what changed during observation. When did you start seeing patterns? What did you learn from observation? Did your experiences the in the field change your team's research question? If so, acknowledge that and include a discussion of that in this section.


  • Much of the same advice for observing applies for interviews.
  • Do a brief introduction of each interviewee.
  • How were interviews set up? Explain the roles of moderator and facilitator. Did the team do a field note after interviews?
An image of two people talking.An image of two people talking.


In this section, you'll explain how you reduced your data and drew conclusions from fieldwork. You'll explain why ethnographers do analysis and explain the steps you used to reduce and visual your data. In this process:


This section can be relatively short. You need to explain how you took the results of your analysis and wrote a report. Show an image of that report (or many images of its layout). Provide a link to the report as well.


You need to accomplish two things in the conclusion. First, you need to summarize your experience in a concise manner. Second, you need to explain the challenges you faced and the lessons you learned.

One of the things ethnography is good at is allowing the researcher to be self-referential (i.e., acknowledge themselves in the writing). Because of this, ethnographic writing tends to be good at foregrounding challenges. Did you have any issues collecting data? Did you have to change anything because of participant feedback?

You should also discuss lessons you learned from the process. What would you have done differently if given another chance or more time? Employers understand that not everything works out perfectly; how you deal with adversity and how you can reflect on past projects shows your ability to grow.