1. Personal Investigation
Title of your Personal Investigation
(with page numbers)
Summary, including aims, methods, findings and conclusion of your Personal Investigation (only one
paragraph, concise summary, this should be done last, after you complete your investigation)
AIMS - Research Aims, hypothesis or research question; you need to be able to show how you get
from your background reading to your particular investigation research
CONTEXT - Describe the context of your investigation and provide some background information on the
people with whom you worked. Describe the topic(s) and focus of your project. (This might not apply to
an investigation that is library based or based on a study of material culture / visual materials that are
available in cyberspace for example)
RATIONALE - State your argument and original goal/research question (and why you were interested in
it). Clear declarative statement of the central research focus or question of the project.
LITERATURE STUDY – In this section you should include support from named anthropological literature
– give 2 or 3 examples, one of which in some detail and also include methodological issues. This should
include at least one cross-cultural example. The literature review serves both to situate the proposed
research in larger context and to provide a rationale for the significant contribution that will help to
answer unresolved questions and contribute to important debates. This can take the form of
ethnographic films or books as well as theoretical work.
Your introduction should be relevant, informative, interesting and credible.
Does it contribute to our understanding of the question/issue posed?
Describe your methodology. Your main method for collecting data should be participant
observation & interviews. ( however, this might notalwaysapply fora library based projector oneon
How did you go about collecting data?
How did the methods you select help you find and interpret material?
What problems or challenges did you encounter? Did those problems tell you something about
the phenomenon you studied, or about your methods?
Detail is very important. You should not seek detail for the sake of detail. Instead you should focus
on the way the details contribute to a larger descriptive account or provide foundation for specific
Consider and justify the methods that you used in your research.
Discuss the important contribution of your method to your investigation (advantages and
disadvantages ) of using this method
Identify the strength of your investigation
There are some serious ethical considerations involved in collaborating with the people you are studying. Never
deceive and never place anyone at risk! You need to be open and honest about your role as a researcher, and
you must always place your collaborators' or interviewee's safety, privacy, and interests first. Tell them you are
a student working on a class project, and your teacher will read your findings and discuss them in class.
Whenever possible, get prior permission to attend relevant events by contacting group leaders or others in
authority. Tellpeople who you are and what you are doing, and gaintheir permission and their trust to interview
them. Take all steps to assure their anonymity, no matter how innocent you think your questions are. Do not be
afraid of hard topics, but do respect peoples' privacy. Be safe and remain aware of what is happening around
you. Be mindful about what you share with others, and think about the consequences of the project for you.
Include all of the ethical issues that you encountered before, during and after your investigation.
Confidentiality and anonymity
Protecting research participants and honouring trust
Avoiding undue intrusion
The analysis of the data involves interpretation of the meanings and functions of human actions and mainly
takes the form of verbal descriptions and explanations, with quantification and statistical analysis playing a
subordinate role at most. Your findings can be organised by key themes, questions and categories.
Synthesise the collected data into a logical order for interpretation. Make sure it is coherent and flows smoothly,
rather than being a list of facts.
What did your study show about the social and cultural significance of the phenomenon?
Does your data support your conclusion, how? If not, why?
Did your own research or opinions/judgements reinforce some of the ideas you have encountered in
this investigation, or did it lead you to further questions?
What is the significance or meaning of your study?
Provide examples of data you gathered that are relevant to your argument.
Make sure you collect enough ethnographic data to be able to argue your research question.
Is the example representative of what you studied or is it rather unusual? Does it fit a pattern? Or,
does it break a pattern?
Note: You can paraphrase or use direct quotations - where you have multiple people who said similar
things,do not repeat what they said.You should group them together and either paraphrase their overall
sentiments, or usea direct quote from one of them that is representative of the rest. This should be both
descriptive and interpretive. In other words, you want to report what people say, and why they say it. If
you have other kinds of data, personal histories, economic status, age, etc., that you think contribute to
why they expressed a certain opinion or idea then include this in your interpretation.
Describe your own personal experience or involvement in shaping what you found out. What insight did your
experience give you into the problem or topic you studied? For example:
What were your ideas about the topic before you went into the project?
Did your ideas change?
What problems or difficulties arose in your research?
Did they force you to think or do things differently for the project?
Why do you think this conclusion is significant?
What did you learn?
What do you think other people can learn from what you have done?
What did you get out of this experience?
What did it teach you about the fieldwork process and about cultural difference?
Relationship to your background research; you have to go through all the research referred to in the
literature reviewand say whether your findings confirm or deny this previous research, providing reasons.
4. Limitations and modifications: e.g. critique of method and suggest possible alternative approaches to
data gathering, for example.
Implications and suggestions for further research: ‘implication means’: if what you find out is true, what
difference will it make?
Theoretical consideration – how will your research contribute to the larger body of knowledge and to
problem solving in practically oriented research
Provide a critically reflexive account of your ethnography–considering, for example, the impact of some
aspects of your subjectivity on the methods and analyses employed in your research.
books, articles, films, websites etc.
Photos, recordings, video and any other material used
Interview sheets (if this is used)
The Following are some generic guidelines for conducting fieldwork:
It is difficult, if not impossible, to provide a precise set of rules and procedures for conducting fieldwork. What
you do depends on the situation, the purpose of the study, the nature of the setting, and the skills, interests,
needs, and point of view of the observer.
Choosing a topic:
Brainstorm ideas that you got from AS units, other ethnographies, Personal Investigation suggestions AQA,
books, magazines, films, news, media etc…..
You should do something that is of personal interest to you as it will make it more enjoyable during your PI.
Make a list of all possible ideas that you can think about including those that are farfetched.
Make a list of all potential research questions and then put them in order of the importance for you.
Once you have decided on a topic, think about the kinds of questions you have in mind, both for observation
What kinds of things will you watch out for in particular?
What questions will you ask during your interview or ask your teacher to ask?
5. Remember, you'll be an outsider, and not being in a familiar circumstances, surrounded by strangers, can
be a bit discerning.
Having prepared questions ahead of time will help! What are the different sets of questions that support
Object of study:
The focus is usually a single setting or group, of relatively small scale. In life history research the focus may
even be a single individual.
Place or places / particular group of people / particular set of events or rituals.
Operationalise these concepts/narrow the focus of study.
Choose a field site that is accessible, something physically close, to be able to access your field site regularly.
Suggested themes/locations for Personal Investigations
Anthropological themes, examples:
symbols structuring space body language gender
rituals structuring time sexuality ethnicity
relationships food religion/beliefs gossip
emotions money kinship Laws/ social rules
families child care ageing
bureaucracy ethics peacemaking conflict/aggression
Community location or event, examples:
sporting event jogging gym culture
fast food weddings hospital ward pets & owners
servers hair salon supermarkets cemetery practices
home workplace temple/church wholesale outlet
These are strictly suggestions, you may decide on something quite different. Remember that your time is
limited. Choose something that interests you and that is doable within the time allotted.
6. Ethical Issues:
Things to consider:
Implications of the research findings for the participants
Purpose of the research
What do participants get out of research? Are you giving back anything?
Ethical issues with each method for studying your research question: questions asked (trauma, tragedy,
How you gained access
Researcher style: do you intimidate people?
Role of researcher: too much rapport?
How not to put participants or self at risk
Informed consent: Did you give enough information about the study? Do they know how you will use
the data? Do they know what you are counting as “data”? Do you use all information revealed or
observed? Do you give opportunity for them to withdraw? Do you use information that participants
reveal about others, people who have not given consent? It can be hard to get informed consent with
observation and document studies: Public officials, public places, public documents, documents on the
Confidentiality: how protected? Where do you draw the line: protecting them versus their confidentiality
Good preparation is very important it will make your investigation much easier to conduct.
Practical, Ethical and Theoretical issues before you start your project.
Do reading to develop your research topic and to locate it in relationship to the work of others.
Evaluate potential topics in order to prepare for possible obstacles such as access, gatekeepers, practical,
ethics issues etc.
Make a preliminary visit to the site.
Practical issues, reluctant informants, privacy concerns, finances, ethical concern can be all potential problems
and challenges during the process of research.
Maybe, the single most important concern.
Geographic proximity and financial resources.
7. Issues of privacy
Responsibility to your informants, confidentiality and privacy.
Your obligation to potential informers.
Large stores as there is little social interaction happening which is significant to observer.
High pressure and dangerous environment (emergency rooms, police stations, fire stations)
Wherever illegal and illicit activities take place (drug use, prostitution)
Maps and charts
Maps are representations of physical and imagined spaces that can highlight a variety of different emphasis
Spatial relations (the distances between residences, orientation of doors and windows, common paths of
entry etc.) are connected to social interaction.
A guide to collecting data and taking notes
Get into the habit of writing and recording data in your research book (Field Notes)
Be descriptive in taking field notes.
The more writing and note taking become habitual the easier it will be to stay up to date with your project. As
the primary research instrument you will play a vital role in producing, measuring and recording data.
Gather a variety of information from different perspectives. (observations, interviews, program
documentation, recordings, and photographs)
Clearly separate description from interpretation and judgment.
The most important thing is to make notes and to create ethnographic record asap.
Good detail is an essential part of good ethnography.
Use all five senses.
Build trust and rapport at the entry stage. Remember that the researcher-observer is also being observed and
8. Include in your field notes and observations reports of your own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. These
are also field data.
Select key informants wisely and use them carefully. Draw on the wisdom of their informed perspectives.
Data are gathered from a range of sources, but observation and/or relatively informal conversations are
usually the main ones.
What are you witnessing, hearing, experiencing?
You can use other instruments: camera and video camera, audio recorder.
What do I needto write down?
What are the key aspects of the event, practice or object?
What are people doing?
Why do they do it?
How do they do it?
How does it provide a sense of meaning and purpose, question or maintain the social order, provide
emotional release or security, define or display status, serve to accumulate power, and so on?
Good luck and enjoy your Personal Investigation