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Designing with ethnography: Field‐based research, data analysis, and intervention

Uddannelse ph.d.
Undervisningssprog English
National_online Kurset vises på den nationale database
Vært Ph.d.-skolen for kommunikation og humanistisk videnskab

To apply please send a short 2-page statement of interest and a 100-200 word bio that includes mention of your thesis topic by October 5 (latest) to keldb@ruc.dk. Notification of acceptance is given shortly after.

Kursus starter 17-11-2015
Kursus slutter 19-11-2015
Ekstern underviser

Professor Jeanette Blomberg, IBM Research Almaden

Jeanette Blomberg is Principle Research Staff Member and Program Director of Practice-based Service Innovation at IBM Research. Her research explores social aspects of technology production and use, ethnographically-informed organizational interventions, participatory design, critical assessments of data analytics, and practice-based service innovation. Prior to assuming her current position, Jeanette was a member of the Work Practice and Technology group at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Director of Experience Modeling research at Sapient Corporation, and Industry-affiliated Professor at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden where in 2011 she was awarded an honorary doctorate. Jeanette is well known for her research on ethnography in design processes with two recent publications with Helena Karasti, Positioning Ethnography within Participatory Design and Reflections on 25 Years of Ethnography in CSCW. Her recent book, An Anthropology of Services, explores how services are being conceptualized today and the possible benefits resulting from taking an anthropological view on services and their design. Jeanette received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Davis and before embarking on her career in high tech she was a visiting professor and lecturer in cultural anthropology and sociolinguistics at the University of California, Davis.

Professor Helena Karasti, Roskilde University

Helena Karasti is currently Velux visiting professor at Roskilde University. She has studied technologically mediated work, particularly in transitions from material to digital mediation both within the health care sector and large-scale scientific collaborations. Her doctoral research took place in clinical radiology and since her post doc year in 2002 at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) she has studied the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program internationally. Her lasting interdisciplinary research interests include exploring the relations of technology use and design; bridging the gap between the social and the technical; and integrations of ethnographic and Participatory Design approaches. At present her research focuses on information/knowledge infrastructures and further developing the notion of infrastructuring. She has and is co-editing several journal special issues on these topics in Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Science & Technology Studies. Helena has recently published two review articles on ethnography in design processes with Jeanette Blomberg, Positioning Ethnography within Participatory Design and Reflections on 25 Years of Ethnography in CSCW. Helena received her PhD in Information Systems from the University of Oulu and was appointed as docent (adjunct professor) with specialization in Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) in Work Informatics program at the University of Turku. Prior to full professorship at Luleå University of Technology Helena was Academy of Finland Research Fellow at University of Oulu.


The course is aimed at PhD students who plan to or have done ethnographic studies for their thesis research.


The course is made up of four elements:

  1. Professors Jeanette Blomberg and Helena Karasti will give three lectures:

a) Linking problem statements with research design

b) Constructing the field

c) Improvisation, iteration and intervention: Linking data gathering, data analysis and writing

  1. Discussions based on the assigned readings. Participants are expected to have read all readings before the course. Participants will prepare to lead a 25-minute discussion of a paper from the reading list. It is important that time is spent to frame the group discussion of the paper as opposed to presenting “what the article is about”.

  2. Presentation by the participants of their PhD research. Participants should submit a draft working paper or chapter of their PhD thesis two weeks before the course (no later than 3 November 2015). The working paper/chapter will be presented and discussed during the course and one participant will be assigned - together with Professors Jeanette Blomberg and Helena Karasti – to give prepared feedback on the assigned paper.

  3. Revising the draft paper. After the course, participants will revise the paper and submit it for review by Jeanette Blomberg and Helena Karasti (tentative date for submitting final version of paper/chapter is 15 January 2016).

Deltagelseskrav for opnåelse af ects
  1. Active engagement during the course, including having read all articles that are presented/discussed at the course.

  2. Submission of a draft working paper/chapter of thesis prior to the course based-on PhD research. This can be the research proposal for your thesis, a chapter of your thesis, or some initial analysis based on your PhD research.

  3. Presentation to the course participants of your working paper/chapter.

  4. Completion of a final and revised version of the working paper/chapter that incorporates what has been learned during the course and any specific feedback received.


5 ECTS points is given for full participation. Full credit requires submission of a revised paper/chapter that is of publishable quality.

3 ECTS will be given if all the requirements are met except submission of a publishable paper/chapter.


This course will provide participants with a practical understanding of the commitments, perspectives, and practices of ethnography, particularly as they relate to design and intervention. The connections between a research problem, a field-based research plan, “data” collection and analysis, and the PhD thesis will be explored.

The course is structured to allow participants to present their thesis research at various stages of completion, from initial definition of a research problem to writing up the final results. Topics that will be addressed in the lectures given by Professors Jeanette Blomberg and Helena Karasti include:

  1. Defining a problem statement and bounding the research study

  2. Connecting research topic to existing literature and theory

  3. Constructing the field

  4. Designing “data” collection strategies

  5. Practical issues of doing field-based research

  6. Analyzing and interpreting “data”

  7. The role of improvisation and iteration in “data” collection and analysis

  8. Design intervention as part of the field study (connecting ethnography and design)

  9. Structuring and managing the writing of the thesis 

In addition to the lectures given by Professor Blomberg and Professor Karasti, each participant will lead a discussion of a selected paper from the readings assigned and will present an aspect of their thesis research (e.g., the research design and problem statement, a working chapter of the thesis, a paper based on their thesis research). The course is intended to help participants manage the at times daunting task of conducting original research toward the goal of a completed thesis.

Maksimum antal deltagere

The course is limited to a maximum of 10 participants. The course is funded by Roskilde University, thus students from Roskilde University and associated research networks have priority. We welcome PhD-students from other universities, but your research needs to be empirically based i.e. you need to have conducted field work prior to the course and include it in the paper you submit. The course includes lunch.


To ensure that we all benefit from the readings - and to optimize the fun - during the course discussions, it is expected that every participant will have thoroughly read each paper or chapter on a reading list.

Ansvarlig Keld Bødker (keldb@ruc.dk )