Harvard Educational Review
  1. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes

    By Robert M. Emerson, Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw.

    Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. 272 pp. $39.95; $12.95 (paper).

    Many published accounts of ethnographic research assume that recording fieldnotes is an innate skill and therefore omit a discussion of the initial steps of conducting research. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes provides this discussion, and is thus ideal for the novice field researcher trying to muddle through the messy job of recording experiences. One writing strategy provided by the authors, for example, involves describing people using visual details such as gestures, posture, and facial expressions, and auditory details including timbre and loudness. This attention to detail, according to the authors, pushes the beginning fieldworker beyond "visual clichés" such as "a young woman" or "two Latina women with a small child" to avoid stereotyping (p. 70). A unique aspect of this book is that the authors combine their collective teaching experiences at the University of California at Los Angeles with students' actual fieldnotes in an effort to demystify the process of taking fieldnotes.

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