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.