6b- Presenting the Methodology and Focus

Fol­low­ing your intro­duc­to­ry piece, you will shift into what you might con­sid­er the more tra­di­tion­al, nuts and bolts, sec­tion of your intro­duc­tion – your method­ol­o­gy and focus. In this sec­tion, you will dis­cuss the process you went through as a researcher and expand your broad focus state­ment so that it details for your read­ers exact­ly how you plan to devel­op and explore that focus.  You will explain how you went about your ethno­graph­ic research and present, for the first time, what you want to share about the site.

For the first draft, there are a few prompts/questions that may help you tran­si­tion from the catchy intro­duc­tion into your method­ol­o­gy (how you con­nect­ed to your site, how you con­duct­ed your research) and then into your expand­ed focus state­ment. Think about the fol­low­ing:

  • How can you make a direct con­nec­tion between the scene you present in the intro­duc­tion and the larg­er issues at your research site that you plan to dis­cuss?
  • Can you pro­vide back­ground on what the larg­er mean­ing or con­text of the site is?
  • How was your inter­est in the site gen­er­at­ed at the begin­ning of the project, and how do you feel about it now?
  • What was your research process? How often did you vis­it the site? Did you observe, inter­view, par­tic­i­pate, or do any com­bi­na­tion of those things?

For draft­ing pur­pos­es, we sug­gest that stu­dents start with some­thing for­mu­la­ic and expand from there, for exam­ple, “Dur­ing the past semes­ter (or the last 9 weeks, or 3 months, etc.) I have been observing/participating in ___________________. Through my research, I dis­cov­ered _______________.” In that last sen­tence, you will give an inkling of your “big idea”– where did you find mean­ing in your research?

Fol­low­ing your method­ol­o­gy state­ment or para­graph, you then tran­si­tion expand­ed focus state­ment (In this paper, I will…First…Second…Third…) that you devel­oped from you work in Chap­ter 8. You can include a brief “review of the lit­er­a­ture” sec­tion, high­light­ing some of the most rel­e­vant or inter­est­ing ideas in the work of pub­lished authors that you have been able to make con­nec­tions with. This does not need to be an in-depth dis­cus­sion. Save that for dig­ging into the ideas in the body sec­tions of your essay. Rather, give your read­ers a sense of the ideas from authors that have informed your inquiry. Here, too, you can start with a bit of a for­mu­la if you need to and tweak for style lat­er. For exam­ple:

Through­out the course of my research, the work of sev­er­al authors pro­vid­ed insights into ways to approach my inquiry. In Duty Bound, Mark Blitz crafts a won­der­ful book based on philo­soph­i­cal truths that defines the pur­pose of the media. His work pro­vides a basis for me to argue that the cur­rent media is, in fact, affect­ing the Amer­i­can people’s rights in a neg­a­tive way.  Sim­i­lar­ly, Eric Alterman’s, What Lib­er­al Media? has been very provoca­tive for me.  Alter­man argues that the cur­rent Con­ser­v­a­tive Elite, by con­trol­ling the media via mon­e­tary resources, has gained pow­er over the Amer­i­can people’s ideas. Final­ly, for a glob­al per­spec­tive, I draw from Joel Simon, in “Muz­zling the Media: How the New Auto­crats Threat­en Press Free­doms,” as he explains the nature of coun­tries that hide under the guise of democ­ra­cy but have author­i­tar­i­an con­trol over the media in order to main­tain their pow­er.

Fol­low­ing this sec­tion, you will move out of the intro­duc­to­ry pieces and into the body sec­tions of your inquiry, devel­op­ing your explo­ration of your site as artic­u­lat­ed in the focus state­ment.

It is impor­tant to note that the prompts, ques­tions, and for­mu­las here are designed to help you get start­ed with the expres­sion of your own research method­ol­o­gy and focus for the essay. They are an excel­lent struc­tur­al start­ing point, but you do not have to only use the for­mu­la or feel like you have to include answers to all of these prompts. You, as author, will make the deci­sion about how to present the infor­ma­tion.