Assessing Quality in Qualitative Research

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a book review by SAM LADNER Qualitative Literacy: A Guide to Evaluating Ethnographic and Interview Research by Mario Luis Small and Jessica McCrory Calarco August 2022, 230 pp, University of California Press This book is a must-read for any researcher, even those who specialize in quantitative methods. It aims to be a textbook but achieves much more than that because it focuses on what it takes to be “literate” in qualitative data – the very thing that our stakeholders need to be more sophisticated customers of our work. Qual researchers know all too well that basic qual familiarity is lacking in most contexts, but we don’t always have the language to explain to our stakeholders how to best leverage qual data. This book helps us do that. Imagine being a writer in a world where no one was literate. Imagine the constant struggle to train up, support, and explain your work to people who cannot read, while at the same time being told the reason they cannot understand your writing is because it isn’t good enough....

EPIC2023—The Big Reveal!

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 EPIC2023 chairs Marta Cuciurean-Zapan and Evan Hanover announce our next conference location and theme! Watch, read or listen—then get ready for our Call for Participation coming in January 2023...   Hello! We are Marta Cuciurean-Zapan, Director of Research and Insights at IDEO, and Evan Hanover, Director at Conifer Research. We are incredibly excited to invite everyone in the room today and online, EPIC members past, present, and future to… …Chicago, Illinois, for EPIC2023 next October! Chicago has a rich history shaping the theoretical and methodological foundations of American social science. Some of you may have made your way there to study at one of our colleges and universities. Or had foundational work experiences at firms that put social theory and an ethnographic approach at the forefront of their practice and positioning—such as eLab or Doblin, or the place where the two of us first met and collaborated, Conifer Research. Then there is the location of the actual conference, which will...

Ethnography for the AI Age: How to Get Started

By MARIA CURY, MIKKEL KRENCHEL and MILLIE P. ARORA, ReD Associates To influence the development of artificial intelligence, ethnographers must build more partnerships and new kinds of outputs. Artificial intelligence (AI) has made huge strides recently in areas like natural language processing and computer-generated images – every other week seems to bring another breathtaking headline. Engineers, developers, and policymakers in the AI community are more seriously grappling with the fundamental risks that AI poses to society, like perpetuating unfair biases, putting privacy and security at risk, harming mental health, or automating tasks that provide livelihoods for people. As people flock to the fields of 'responsible AI,’ ‘AI ethics,’ and ‘AI governance’ that are all about shaping AI towards what is helpful for humanity, it is time we ask: where are the ethnographers and applied anthropologists? Many are doing ground-breaking work in AI, and reporting back to the EPIC community (see here, here, here, also here for just...

Resilient Customer Archetypes: How Research Teams Can Build an Enduring and Evolving Understanding of Users

by GILLIAN BOWAN, Atlassian Atlassian teams rely on a range of customer archetypes to empathize with customers, understand their problems, and design solutions that meet user needs. But what happens to these artifacts over time? Do they become anecdotal, fuzzy, weathered and smooth via repetition and distance from primary data? Do they merge with an organization's cultural fabric, taken for granted and beyond the scope of reflection? And how can we, as researchers, sketch out and maintain resilient yet flexible archetypes that hold their shape over time? Members of our growing research team are reflecting on this challenge as we breathe new life into a long-standing trope of customer behavior, The Champion. Broader industry shifts, including the mass transition to cloud apps and changing priorities within our organization prompted our research team to reassess this archetype. Our experience suggests the power of a research community coming together to refresh our data and connect existing concepts to emerging business needs. Through...

What’s Next versus What’s Valuable: Perspectives on the Value of Ethnography in a Future-Focused World

by LOUISE VANG JENSEN & LEA MøLLER SVENDSEN, IS IT A BIRD A framework for ethnography and futures work that expands our understanding of the nature of change Ethnographers operating in the future-focused context of business consultancy face a core challenge. Our approach is holistic and human-centric, “based on the researcher sharing time and space with the people he or she wants to understand, establishing relationships with them and thereby experiencing life from their perspective” (Kirsten Hastrup et.al: Ind i verden, 2010). Our clients want to stay relevant in the future. They want us to predict future behaviours, aspirations and dreams; to demonstrate what will change, what will disrupt and how people will be different. We’re often confronted with the perception that ethnography is a toolkit limited to exploring present worlds, and therefore holding limited value to futures work and business strategies. This notion relies on a somewhat sci-fi view of the future as something disconnected from the now. As something...