Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Autoethnography: Real Human Real Quick
Presenters: Jenny Karubian, Ready to Launch Research, Scott Koenig, MRXology
Jenny and Scott’s session was delivered to a packed room at the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference, starting with a warm welcome and quick poll: nearly everyone present currently conducts ethnographies, but only a handful of audience members were familiar with autoethnography. Which sparked an obvious need for a definition.
Autoethnography allows the research participant to also be the researcher, by describing and evaluating cultural experiences, analyzing their stories and engaging with the meaning and emotion in their experiences. Journaling is an oft-used qualitative method and, while like autoethnography, Jenny and Scott highlighted the key differences between the two methods.
They described journaling as more about recording, while autoethnography is about reflection; journaling often captures daily activities, behavioral patterns and functional responses, while autoethnography yields results about the broader cultural context and responses may draw from a longer period of time (e.g. reflecting back to childhood). Another key difference is autoethnography’s encouragement for participants to draw commonalities and conclusions from the other participants involved in the study.
Key Session Takeaways
The topic of autoethnography drew a large crowd of people with little to no experience with the method, indicating a strong interest among researchers to continually evolve our toolbox as researchers. Jenny and Scott did a great job bringing the method to life through their case study, and I especially liked the example autoethnography questions. Their practical checklists and comparison tables demonstrated how elements of autoethnography could easily be applied to the online qualitative research that many quallies are already conducting.
During the session, Jenny and Scott brought autoethnography to life through sharing the results of a recent case study. Seeing autoethnography in action helped highlight how I could utilize this tool in my own practice! This was especially evident when we saw the results of a comparison in journaling responses and autoethnography responses, with autoethnography participants providing more emotion, nostalgia, and long-form answers to the online questions.
Final Comments and Takeaways
The session ended with a lengthy Q&A session, with at least 15 different questions being asked by the audience…the sign of a truly engaging presentation! Key discussions were about recruitment and what screener questions were needed to ensure autoethnography participants had quality writing skills and the ability to reflect/draw meaningful insights from their own stories. Thank you, Scott and Jenny, for an informative session!
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