Introduction to Ethnographic Research |
The capturing and organizing of raw data is the central, most important process in ethnographic field work. Although there are now many new gadgets and instruments for recording, photographing, and entering data into computers, much of the hard work must still be done 'by hand'. Also, the process of data capture especially writing notes and then elaborating the notes requires repeated informed and careful decision making in order to get as much as possible of the relevant, important information. Even studies with predetermined categories and hypotheses almost always encounter unexpected new features and processes that call for modifications in research plans. In the midst of data gathering, researchers are constantly engaging in preliminary analysis and understanding of the emerging data. Thus, even when writing up field notes, ethnographers should be making notes and comments about possible new questions and lines of inquiry, as well as noting issues that were inadequately probed in interviews.