I wrote a design anthropology literature review back in the summer of 2007 for an independent study course with Christina Wasson at UNT. The paper is an overview of the field, the methodologies, the theory and the people of the field. I get requests for this paper from time-to-time so I’ve decided to make it available on this site. You can you download the paper here.
I just finished my 7 part series about software and internet resources for research.
Part 1, “Inspiration for an Idea,” can be found here
part 2, “Literature Review,” can be found here,
part 3, “Research,” can be found here,
part 4, “Transcription”, can be found here,
part 5, “Analysis,” can be found here,
part 6, “Write up,” can be found here,
and part 7, “Publishing,” can be found here.
I hope to make the seven parts into wiki pages so that I can add resources as I learn about them and so that others may add their resources as well.
There are a few themes in almost each entry that I wanted to reiterate one last time. I mention the use of wikis and mind maps in many stages as a tool for organization, as well as maintaining PDFs in Yep.
Organization in research is very important and there are a lot of software and online tools that can help!
This is part 2 of a 7 part series about software and internet resources for research. Part 1, “Inspiration for an Idea” can be found here.
I started off part 1 by saying this series would be better as a wiki and I’ve already proven that to myself, I made several additions to part 1 yesterday and will make a few more today. As I flesh out the notes I’ve written for the stages I keep thinking of new things and finding new links.
Now that you’ve spent some time cruising the internet and thinking about what sort of research project you’d like to do, I’m sure your inspired to pursue your project. What should your next step be and how will the internet and software help you? Well, if you’re following a traditional approach to your research, your next step is to do some review of existing literature.
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time then you most likely know that I am hyper-organized. It’s very important to be organized with your research from the get-go and if you didn’t start to do this while you were seeking inspiration now would be the time to do it. There is a sea of electronic articles and even if you’re interest lays in an obscure topic, you’ll have many articles to keep track of.
My recommendations for organizing literature are bookmark the articles and to store the downloadable PDFs in a PDF data software program, such as Yep. I’ve also hear of using EndNote to keep track of bibliographies, etc. I have no experience with this software (I tried it and lost interest quickly) but it comes highly recommended.
If you start this early you’ll thank yourself in the long run!
One of my favorite parts of anthropology is the fact that its work is best when complimented by another discipline. Many (American) anthropologists specialize in a more focused topic within one of our four sub-disciplines, i.e. public health, policy, environment, etc. Remember when your searching for literature DO NOT limit yourself to articles, etc. that say “anthropology”- think of what other disciplines might have something to offer.
Where to find literature
Don’t forget about the places where you found your inspiration in the first place, look for their recommendations, bibliographies, etc.
Amazon.com typically gives really good book descriptions and most books have customer reviews.
Look for people that work in the area you’re interested in. Some professors share their syllabi online and if they don’t, you can always email them and ask if you can have a copy.
Search the bibliographies of related articles.
List of anthropology journals here.
This list is by no means exhaustive, so I’ll continue to add to it and I am interested to hear about other resources you all are using.
I have two qualities that are a blessing and a curse: I’m hyper organized & I plan for the future. Over all I’m very happy that these two traits have naturally become a key part to how I approach life. However, I do consider them a curse at times because they are both super time consuming!
Anyhow, when I was helping to develop our syllabus for our design anthropology course this summer, I realized that I would be reading over 40 articles and would have to produce a paper in the end. This was a somewhat dizzying thought at first until I decided to organize the articles (all PDFs) along the way.
I’ve messed around with a few PDF database/organizing software products in the past and none of them met my requirements, until the recently updated release of Yep. Yep is software that is only OSX (Mac) (I switched to a Mac because of the software that is available!) compatible and costs $34 USD for the full version. There is a free trial version though! In my opinion it’s totally worth the $34.
Awesome features of Yep: you can tag articles and write a summary of them (however long you want), then you can search those tags and summaries to find what you need. This makes future referencing of articles for papers, etc. super easy.
Downfalls: only for OSX & the files have to be in PDF format (but the Mac has software that comes with it to allow you to convert to PDF easily).
For this design anthropology course we had to write an annotated bibliography of each article. So from week 1 I would read an article, write the annotated bibliography, then pull up the PDF in Yep, tag it with the appropriate tags and copy & past the bibliography into the description field. I use broad tags such as “history”, “introduction”, “methods”, “case studies”, “theory+analysis”, & “theory+approach”. I also use more specific tags i.e., “PD”, “CSCW”, “semiotics”, “McCracken”, “IDEO”, & “Wasson”.
I’m currently in the process of outlining my paper for design anthropology. It will be about 10 pages long and cover “what is design anthropology”, “history of design anthro”, “common methods”, “common theories of approach”, “common theories of analysis”, “how design anthro is different from academic anthro”, “how design anthro is beneficial to design” and the “pro’s and con’s of design anthro”. If this seems like a lot of topics, it is, but each topic will only have about half a page or so. For each topic I use the search feature on Yep to see which articles I should work from. As I write I’m realizing which tags should be added or removed from certain articles and adjusting accordingly. Yep is making the process of writing a paper that references 40 articles super, duper easy!
I love the new version of Yep so much that I’ve gone back through my old PDFs and tagged them too. Maintaining the PDFs once a week this summer (adding them, tagging them, & writing the description) was so easy that I will continue this process moving forward.