A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley

Founder
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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Secure access to the community without poisoning the waters.

Experts typically agree that the way you are introduced into the community plays a crucial role in the overall success of your study. If the people in charge introduce you to the community and ask participants to do what they can to help you, you may be perceived as a spy or enemy. It is, therefore, often better to enter a community less obtrusively. Because being introduced to the community by someone in power or by someone considered to be a member of an "opposing faction" can irreparably taint your results, you may have to reject the role implied by your introduction or withdraw from the community and select another site to conduct the research.

Pick the Perfect Spot for Making Observations

Position yourself in a spot that will enhance your data collection and ability to make observations. For example, a student was intrigued by what she heard at the teachers' lounge when she was undergoing her training to be a teacher. After extensive reading about the concerns of high school teachers, she conducted an ethnography of the teachers' lounge at the school where she was assigned to intern for her teacher training. The result of her study was a sometimes inspiring and sometimes depressing account of ten teachers' struggles, ideas, and ambitions.

Experts strongly disagree about how active a role researchers should play in the community that they are studying. While some ethnographers formally interview respondents, give them psychological tests, and inform community members about their role, others are less candid. Instead of revealing their status as observers, these ethnographers prefer to enter the community as silent detectives. Although this secrecy about their goals can result in an ethical quandary, some professional anthropologists prefer this approach, believing it results in better data collection. Clearly, there are dangers that participants will not forget their "company behavior" after you disclose your intentions; yet, you need to be honest about your intentions.

Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham

Editor-in-Chief
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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