Not Alone in the Field: Distance Collaboration via the Internet in a Focused Ethnography

  • Bonnie K. Lee School of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge
  • David Gregory School of Health Science, University of Lethbridge


Ethnography as method remains orthodox in its application. It is largely replicated through the lone field ethnographer model. In challenging this fieldwork model, the authors describe distance collaboration via the Internet linking two researchers across space and time in the fieldwork process: one in the field, the other home based. Using a reflexive, retrospective analysis of e-mail correspondence generated during the fieldwork experience, they explicate key factors in their successful collaborative effort. In addition, interchanges conducive to “thickening” the ethnographic inquiry are highlighted. The collaborative process, facilitated through the Internet, lent psychological strength to the field researcher and added to research quality, timeliness, and trustworthiness in this focused ethnography. Cyber-technology invites exploration of new approaches and resultant challenges in conducting ethnographic fieldwork.

Author Biographies

Bonnie K. Lee, School of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge
Bonnie Lee, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health Sciences (Addictions Counselling Program), University of Lethbridge, Canada. Her research interests are in cultural narratives, rituals in healing, couple and family therapy for addictions, innovative treatment, training and research methods.
David Gregory, School of Health Science, University of Lethbridge
David Gregory, Ph.D., is a Professor of Nursing, School of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge. His scholarly interests include qualitative research methodology, Aboriginal health, men’s health, and patient safety.