An Integrated Toolkit for Field Research



Ethnography, or narrowly, in-field research work generally produces a lot of “raw” materials: scribble notes, survey sheets, recordings, videos, photographs, etc. Such a repository contains different formats of data (image, audio, video, text, paper); and it will easily grow into a broader hodgepodge in a teamwork scenario.

Pain points

It is time- and energy- consuming to deal with the large amount of raw data, as the process requires substantial labor to coordinate and distill all sorts of materials that come in different sources and formats.


With the prevalence of mobile technology, such as the smartphone and tablet PC, there could be new support for in-field research activities. As a matter of fact, scholars and schools have begun to use digital devices to help with their in-field data collection.

Introduce Ethnote

Yet, researchers struggle with the fact that they have to install and switch between different applications to fulfill their needs. In this context, we decided to develop a web and mobile based application, Ethnote, to facilitate the whole in-field research process.



We followed researchers while they were doing their in-field research to observe the process and the tools they use.


We attended researchers' data analysis session to better understand possible breakdowns in their work flow.

Contextual Inquiry

We interviewed researchers before and after they finished their research session to probe deeper issues.


  • Flow Model

    We utilized this model to illustrate the roles between users, and how they interact with each other. We broke it down into three phases to better illustrate the dynamics. Together, we identified 4 major breakdowns.

  • Sequence Model

    With Sequence Model, we analyzed the steps the user needed to accomplish a task or fulfill an intent. 3 breakdowns were identified.

  • Artifact Model

    We collected the artifacts researchers used for their in-field research and their respective drawbacks.


Product Visioning




2.Date Collection


3.Data Analysis

Site Map



Design Team

Jo Lam, Li He

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