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An Introduction to Online Ethnography (Doctoral Research Methods Workshop Series, Part 2)

With Professor Rebecca Eynon, and Professor Eric T. Meyer
Date & Time:
14:00 - 17:00,
Thursday 24 November, 2011


The online environment offers a range of possibilities for people to come together, connect and interact online; and as more and more people participate in online spaces new methodological approaches and techniques have been developed in order for Social Scientists to try to examine and understand the nature and meanings of these interactions. In this three hour workshop students will have the opportunity to discuss and explore the key conceptual and methodological understandings needed to conduct online ethnography and related qualitative approaches.

Topics to be Covered

During this three hour workshop we will:

  • Provide a brief overview of the ethnographic tradition
  • Explore the new opportunities and challenges the Internet has presented for those interested in carrying out ethnograph
  • Examine the more practical aspects of how to go about an ethnographic study (including finding and defining a case, entering and exiting the field
  • Highlight the range of methods that may be incorporated as part of an online ethnography and how to go about them
  • Discuss novel methods that are being used to analyse web based data and how using these methods may actually be changing what ethnography originally set out to be
  • Introduce ways to manage the extensive amount of data that is collected during online ethnography
  • Explore the ethical considerations of online ethnography

Who Should Take This Course?

This half day workshop is designed as an introduction to online ethnography. It is anticipated that you will have a good foundation in traditional social science qualitative methods such as interviews and observation. This course will be most beneficial to those students who already have an idea for their thesis topic and consider online ethnography to be one possible approach or for those who have recently begun their pilot study. Through discussions with the tutors and other students the workshop is designed to provide you with a sound introduction to this approach, assist you in determining if online ethnography is the most appropriate methodological approach for your thesis, help you in refining and developing the focus and techniques you wish to employ in your study and providing you with ways to resolve problems that you have / may encounter whilst in the field.


The workshop is designed as an interactive event, where students are encouraged to come and share their questions, experiences and concerns about the use of this approach for their thesis.


  • Fielding, N, Lee, R.M, and Blank, G. (Eds) (2008) The Sage Handbook of Online Research Methods. Sage. London. Chapter 14.
  • Nardi, B. (2010) My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft. Prolog. Chapters 1 and 2.