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Field‐based research and qualitative data analysis: Connecting ethnography and design

Uddannelse ph.d.
Hjemmeside www.ruc.dk/forskning/phd/phd-skolen-for-kommunikation-virksomhed-og-informationsteknologier/design-and-management-of-information-technology/
Undervisningssprog English
Vært Ph.d.-skolen for kommunikation og humanistisk videnskab

You apply by sending an email to keldb@ruc.dk no later than March16. You are also welcome to send questions and inquiries to the same email address.

Kursus starter 07-05-2012
Kursus slutter 09-05-2012

5 ECTS for full participation

Deltagelseskrav for opnåelse af ects

5 ECTS points is given for full participation (Full credit requires submission after the course of a publishable paper. Partial credit, 3 ECTS, will be given if all the requirements are met except submission of a publishable paper):

  • active engagement during the course, including having read all articles that are presented at the course
  • submission of a draft paper prior to the course related to the course theme and your PhD research.
  • presentation of your paper at the course
  • participation in a 1-on1 meeting with Prof. Jeanette Blomberg where you will discuss your thesis topic and research
  • completion of a final and revised edition of your paper after the course, reflecting on the relations between the course material and your PhD research (required for full credit, 5 ECTS)
Ekstern underviser

Prof. Jeanette Blomberg, IBM Research Almaden.

Jeanette Blomberg is a Research Staff Member and Program Manager for practice-based service innovation at IBM Research. Her research explores issues in social aspects of technology production and use, ethnographically-informed organizational interventions, participatory design, 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. Jeanette’s current research is focused on interactions among IT service providers and their clients and the design and implementation of enterprise-wide work standards in IT outsourcing services. Jeanette is on the advisory board for the IT University of Copenhagen and the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC). She is an active member of the Participatory Design community, having served as Program Co-Chair twice, reflecting her strong commitment to the importance of involving people in the design and implementation of interventions that affect their lives.

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 University of California, Davis.


The course is limited to a maximum of 8-10 participants. The course is funded by the DaRSIS network and Roskilde University, thus students from the DaRSIS network and Roskilde University 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.


This course will provide participants with a practical understanding of the connections between defining a research problem, designing field research to address the problem, collecting field data, analyzing qualitative data, and organizing results for the written thesis. Particular attention will be paid to connecting ethnographic research and design.

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. Participants will be able to learn from both the experiences of Prof. Jeanette Blomberg who has been conducting ethnographic, field-based research for more than 25 years and from the other participants in the course.

Topics that will be addressed in the two lectures given by Professor Jeanette Blomberg include:

  • Defining a problem statement and bounding the research study
  • Connecting the chosen research area to existing literature and theory
  • Designing data collection strategies
  • Practical issues of doing field-based research
  • Analyzing qualitative data
  • The role of improvisation and iteration in data collection and analysis
  • Design intervention as “part of” the field study
  • Structuring the thesis to have manageable parts 

In addition to the lectures given by Professor Blomberg, each participant will lead a discussion of a selected paper from the reading list below 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 sometimes daunting task of conducting original research toward the goal of a completed thesis.


7-9 May, 2012


The course is made up of three elements:

Prof. Jeanette Blomberg will give two lectures: a)Problem-oriented research: Linking problem statements with research design b)Improvisation, iteration and intervention: Linking data gathering, data analysis and writing - Discussions based on the assigned readings (see list below). Participants are expected to have read all readings before the course. Participants will prepare for a 25 min. discussion of a paper from the reading list. It is important, that time is spent framing the discussion of the paper as opposed to presenting “what the article is about”. - Paper presentation by the participants based on their PhD research. Participants should submit (a draft of) an article/working paper/chapter from their thesis/etc. two weeks before the course. The paper will be presented and discussed at the course and one participant will be assigned - together with Prof. Jeanette Blomberg – to give prepared feedback on each paper. - Revising the draft paper. After the course, participants will rewrite the draft paper and submit it (June 18) for review by Jeanette Blomberg who will provide written comments on the final paper.


To ensure that we all gain and learn as much as possible - and to optimize the fun - during the course discussions, it is expected that every participant have read each paper or chapter on a reading list thoroughly.

Required Readings

Beaulieu, A. (2004) Mediating ethnography: objectivity and the making of ethnographies of the internet. Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy, Volume 18, Issue 2-3.

Bell, G., Blythe, M., and Sengers, P. (2005) Making by Making Strange: Defamiliarization and the Design of Domestic Technologies. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, Vol. 12, No. 2, June 2005, Pages 149–173.

Buur, J., Fraser E., Oinonen, S. and Rolfstam, M. (2010) Ethnographic Video as Design Specs, in Brereton, M., Viller, S. and Kraal, B. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 22nd Australasian Computer-Human Interaction Conference - OZCHI 2010, Brisbane, Australia, ACM Press, 49–56.

Carter, S. and Mankoff, J. (2005) When participants do the capturing: the role of media in diary studies In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, (pp.899-908) ACM.

Crabtree, A. et al. (2009) Ethnography Considered Harmful. In Proceedings of CHI 2009 (pp. 879-888), ACM.

Dourish, P. (2006) Implications for Design. In Proceedings of CHI 2006 (pp. 541-550), ACM.

Karasti, H. (2001) Bridging Work Practice and System Design: Integrating Systemic Analysis, Appreciative Intervention and Practitioner Participation, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 10(2), 211-246.

Mogensen, P. (1992) Towards a provotyping approach in systems development, Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, 3: 31–53.

Räsänen, M. and Nyce, J. (2008) Rewriting Context and Analysis : Bringing Anthropology into HCI Research. In Advances in Human Computer Interaction (ed.) Shane Pinder. http://www.intechopen.com/articles/show/title/rewriting_context_and_analysis__bringing_anthropology_into_hci_research

Salvador, T., Bell, G., and Anderson, K. (1999) Design Ethnography, Design Management Journal, 10(4): 35–41.

Suchman, L., Trigg, R. and Blomberg, J. (2000) Working artifacts: Ethnomethods of the prototype, British Journal of Sociology, 53(2): 163–179.

Additional Required Readings: Depending on number of students these articles will be added

Bell, G. and Dourish, P., (2007) Back to the shed: gendered visions of technology and domesticity, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, London, Springer, Vol 11, No.5, pp. 373-381.

Forsythe, D. (1989) It’s Just a Matter of Common Sense: Ethnography as Invisible Work. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, 8(1-2)127-145.

Heyl, B. S. (2001) Ethnographic Interviewing. In Atkinson, P. Coffery, A. Delamont, S. Lofland, J. and Lofland L.(eds.) Handbook of Ethnography (pp. 369-382), Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Further Readings

Anderson, R. 1994. Representation and Requirements: The Value of Ethnography in System Design. Human-Computer Interaction, 9(2),151-182.

Barley, S.R. (1990): Images of Imaging: Notes on Doing Longitudinal Field Work. Organization Science, 1(3), 220-247.

Becker, H. (1970) Field Work Evidence. In Sociological Work: Method and Substance (pp. 39-62) Transaction Books. New Brunswick, N.J.

Becker, H. S. (1998) Tricks of the Trade: How to think about your research while doing it. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.

Björgvinsson, E. and Hillgren, P. (2004) On the Spot Experiments Within Healthcare. In Proceedings Participatory Design Conference, (pp. 93-101).

Blomberg, J. and M. Burrell (2007) An Ethnographic Approach to Design. Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamental, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications (pp. 965-988), Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., New Jersey.

Button, G. and Harper, R. (1996) The relevance of ‘work-practice’ for design, Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): The Journal of Collaborative Computing, 5(4) 263–280.

Haraway D. (1988) Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575-599.

Henderson, A. and Kyng, M. (1991) There’s No Place like Home: Continuing Design in Use, in Greenbaum, J. and Kyng, M. (eds.) Design at Work, London, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, 219-240.

Hughes, J., Randall, D., and Shapiro, D. (1993) From Ethnographic Record to System Design: Some Experiences from the Field. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, 1, 123-141.

Forsythe, D. (1989) It’s Just a Matter of Common Sense: Ethnography as Invisible Work. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, 8(1-2),127-145.

Forsythe, D. (1993) Using Ethnography to Build a Working System: Rethinking Basic Design Assumptions. Sixteenth Annual Symposium on Computer Applications in Medical Care (SCAMC’92) (pp. 505-509).

Fischer, Michael M. J. (1999) Emergent Forms of Life: Anthropologies of Late or Post-Modernities. Annual Review of Anthropology, 28:455-478

Goodwin, Charles. (1994) Professional Vision. American Anthropologist, 96:606-633

Gupta, A. and Ferguson, J. (1997) Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. Berkeley: University of California.

Habing, N., Dietz, J., and Zwetsloot-Schonk, B. (2001) Activity Patterns in Health Care - Identifying Building Blocks for the CPR. SIGGROUP Bulletin August 22(2), 9-15.

Hess, J. and Wulf, V. (2009) Explore Social Behavior around Rich-Media: A Structured Diary Study. EuroITV’09. (pp. 215-218).

Karasti, H. (2001) Bridging Work Practice and System Design: Integrating Systemic Analysis, Appreciative Intervention and Practitioner Participation, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 10(2), 211-246.

Marcus, George. 1995. Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology, 24:95-117.

Plowman, L., Rogers, Y. and Ramage, M. (1995) ‘What Are Workplace Studies For?’, in Marmolin, H., Sundblad, Y. and Schmidt, K. (Eds.) Proceedings of the Fourth European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work - ECSCW'95, Sweden: Kluwer, 309-324.

Schmidt, K. (2000) The Critical Role of Workplace Studies in CSCW. In Heath, Hindmarsh, and Luff (eds), Workplace Studies: Rediscovering Work Practice and Informing Design. Cambridge University Press.

Seebeck, L., Kim, R. M. and Kaplan, S. (2005) Emergent Temporal Behaviour and Collaborative Work . Proceedings of the Ninth European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (pp. 123-142).

Amanda Williams, A. and Irani, L. Thereʼs Methodology in the Madness: Toward Critical HCI Ethnography. CHI 2010, April 10–15, 2010, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. ACM 978-1-60558-930-5/10/04.

Zimmerman, D. H. and Wieder, D. L. (1977) The Diary: Diary-Interview Method. Urban Life, 5(4), 479-487.

Maksimum antal deltagere

The course is limited to a maximum of 8-10 participants.

Ansvarlig Keld Bødker (keldb@ruc.dk )