Welcome to John Traphagan’s Online Qualitative Research Webquest Site

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You have landed on my qualitative research webquest site that accompanies my courses in the program in Human Dimensions of Organizations at the University of Texas at Austin.  The purpose of this site is to help students develop an understanding of online qualitative research methods, with an emphasis on ethnography.  Although anthropologists normally think of ethnographic research as involving direct interactions and observations with others, one can also employ the same types of data collection approaches, with modifications, to online worlds such as Second Life, Minecraft, or various chat and message board locations such as Reddit.

Using the links above, you can follow three different webquests.  The first focuses on developing good research questions, the second on the role of the research in qualitative work, and the third on participant observation.  All three webquests focus on conducting qualitative research within online contexts; however, the basic concepts presented here are also applicable to research involving direct human contact.

Part of my motivation in creating this webquest site is related to the necessity of moving classes online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  However, regardless of the current situation, the Internet represents a rich and complex environment in which anthropologists and others can engage in ethnographic research and qualitative data collection more generally.

I hope you find the site interesting and useful.

John Traphagan
Professor of Religious Studies and in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations
University of Texas at Austin