What's Your Question?

How to Research Your Symptoms Online

People use the Internet to research a myriad of things from what they should buy to why they have pain. These guidelines will help you learn how to research your symptoms online if you have concerns.

Use a Medical MD Symptom Checker

As soon as you enter the phrase, “how to research health symptoms,” into any search engine, you’ll receive results for at least one or more reputable medical MD symptom checkers. These symptoms checkers ask your age, gender, primary symptoms, if you’re pregnant, the severity of your symptoms, your current medications and past or current conditions. Once you click submit, a list of conditions that match your symptoms will appear. You’ll have the option to edit your symptoms or start over if you wish.

Check Reputable Websites

If you can’t find what you’re looking for using a free medical symptom checker, there are websites with articles or blog posts that list symptoms. Make sure you’re looking at reputable websites that end with .org or .edu because these sites tend to contain scholarly or medical information that can be trusted. The Internet is full of information that’s published and not verified. Therefore, it’s essential that you’re looking up symptoms on a website that presents information that’s been fact-checked.

Go to a Doctor’s Website

Under some circumstances, you’ll find an online symptom checker on a physician’s website. If you can’t find a MD symptom checker, you’ll find a plethora of resources on these websites. Doctors work diligently toward providing information for their patients in the way of medical library research materials, informational articles, blog posts and podcasts. Therefore, if you can find a symptom checker, you should be able to find information about the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Visit Forums

Sometimes it helps to hear what others are experiencing when you’re undergoing symptoms that don’t match up with the search results you’ve found. Therefore, it’s time to check out user forums. These discussion areas contain experiences from users who go into detail about the symptoms they’re having, what’s happening throughout their experience and if they’re having successful or unsuccessful treatment. Be cautious, though, as these forums will not replace medical advice and may lead to more worry than help.

Check Out Question-and-Answer Websites

Much like a discussion forum, these websites are where users post specific questions to other users regarding issues they’re experiencing. Under many circumstances, these questions pertain to symptoms they’re experiencing and where they can find resources. Other users will help them find pertinent information regarding their specific symptoms when they feel they’ve exhausted every other avenue.


ethnographic research proposal example

Image of a student walking on campus in the fall.

Sample Proposals

The migrant trail – volunteer voices on the us-mexico border.

The Migrant Trail-Volunteer Voices on the U.S.-Mexico Border

Research at Gotland Field School

Forensics Field School

Forensics Field School-Summer 2019

The Community of Silence

Ethnographic Field School in Isla Mujers

Ethnographic Field School in Isla Mujeres

Young Adult Perspectives on Mental Illness in Dublin, Ireland

Vitiligo-Race and Gender in the US

Shinto Religion in New York

Policy Research on Minority Issues & Disability

View Minority Issues and Disability application

The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey

How to Write an Ethnographic Research Proposal

How to Write a Study Report

How to Write a Study Report

As an ethnographer, you're concerned with studying a culture and writing about it. Your study may focus on human society and history (i.e., cultural anthropology) or might instead deal with a subset of society (for example, an institutional or business culture). Whatever the case, you will look at how culture and behavior are related, and conduct your research while living and/or working within the environment you study. This means you should have a plan for "blending in"; you should dress, communicate and engage in activities just as your subjects do. But first comes the research proposal.

Define what your study is and where it will happen. Explain your logic (i.e., why you will conduct your study this way and not that way) and include descriptions of how you will collect your data. Discuss the benefits of your proposed study and why it is important to you. Complete and include all of the necessary permission and release forms.

Organize your inquiry. Include research questions and try to answer them -- even if, at this point, you're making an educated guess. If you're studying village life, you may want to ask about hierarchy with regard to age and fitness or gender. If you plan to study the writing culture at a local company, you could ask how the presence or absence of resources or procedures affects written communication such as email and memos.

Create and describe your data collection plan. This section specifically describes what your research is and where you will engage in the study. Describe how you will conduct your research; do you have or need special access to the site? Blending in with the community you study is essential; there should be no plans to change anything in any way during the course of the study.

Mention authors and academics who inspire your study. It's critical to avoid doing the same research twice. Previous material published on your research subject -- academics call this "scholarship" -- will help you to frame your study.

Prepare for a variety of grading techniques. The nature of the ethnography varies, so don't get lost in the details. Instead, take into account any cues from your instructor. Some instructors focus on structure and methodology; others are more concerned with proposed benefits and discussion. Finally, ask yourself if your proposal is organized and easy to understand; make sure your plan is doable before you commit to it.

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Christopher de la Torre has been writing about science and communication since 1998. His work appears on websites including Singularity Hub and in "Vogue." He holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Eastern Connecticut State University and is pursuing a master's degree in English from George Mason University.


3- Proposing the Ethnographic Research Project

Chapter 3 provides basic information regarding the writing of a proposal for an ethnographic research project.

Ask the average college student where they usually conduct research and chances are the answers will be the internet and, maybe, the library.  Research understood this way is usually going to be secondary research, research that results in the gathering, summarizing and assessing of data that already exists.  It is most likely that most of the research you have conducted to date would be classified as secondary.  But, it’s also possible that you have some experience with primary research. Have you ever conducted an interview?  Have you ever designed and/or administered a survey? These sorts of actions are categorized as primary research, research that involves direct collection of data from real world interactions.

An ethnographic writing project is one that requires the melding of both primary and secondary research.  And, while secondary research is of definite importance, it is the primary research that serves to classify the kinds of projects discussed in this text as ethnographic in character.  In the case of an ethnographic research project, primary research will take place at a specific research site, one of your own choosing.  This chapter focuses on primary research by assisting you in choosing a research site, a first step in this process.  Chapter 4 focuses on the process of creating primary data—of converting observations made into fieldnotes.  Your fieldnotes will, in time, be analyzed and examined for patterns of meaning and behavior, patterns that may be the focus of a larger ethnographic essay. Chapter 5 outlines the process of collecting secondary resources in order to help you better understand and analyze your primary research data.

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.  In order to begin primary research, you must first select a research site.  But, even before you choose a research site, it’s a good idea for you to consider the primary object of focus for ethnographic research—the cultural text.

Table of Contents



Thesis Proposals

Students wishing to write a thesis (fieldwork- or library-based) must submit a proposal to the department, due on the Friday before spring break of their junior year.  Essay writers do not need to submit a research proposal.   

Your proposal should include all of the following elements. Be sure to include your name, and save the file as a word document titled "YourName.ThesisProposal." Proposals should be no more than 5 double-spaced pages, excluding the bibliography. The thesis proposal is due the Friday before Spring Break . All documents should be uploaded to the  Thesis (and Ethics) Proposal Moodle . 

How to write a thesis proposal

A proposal should set out what you want to do, how you hope to do it, and why it’s worth doing. It should also make clear that you have done the necessary preliminary research (literature review, understanding of the topic, and, where relevant, the history of your particular geographical area) to embark on a successful independent research project. Thus, consider how your project builds on and contributes to anthropological knowledge in your chosen area. Your proposal should also include an estimation of expenses, in time and money. This will allow you to compete for departmental funding, and also demonstrate that you have thought through the practicality and feasibility of your project plan.    

Anthropologists often deviate from what we initially plan to do. Fieldwork is an interactive process that depends on other people and is largely aimed at understanding what is important to others. So, a proposal is read only in part as a statement of what you will do; in part it is read as evidence of how well you can formulate a problem, think of ways to investigate it, and link it to other issues.

Your proposal should include all of the following elements: 

1. Introduction

In one paragraph, explain what do you want to do, how, and why. Why does this research matter?

2. Background

A. Research Location(s) : Identify the research site and describe the historical and contemporary factors relating to this site that are relevant to your research. What will your research add to our knowledge of this part of the world?

B. Literature Review: What have others (especially anthropologists!) written about your topic and/or area? Given what has already been written on the topic, why is your research important? What will it contribute to our knowledge, within the discipline of anthropology or within another field of scholarly interest? Are there debates in the literature to which your research will contribute? Does your research test out old assumptions and/or take ideas in a new direction? Discuss comparable studies and explain how your research is similar to or different from them. If there is limited work in your chosen area, consider whether there are similar processes going on in other parts of the world. How will your research scale up from a local site/problem to broader analytical or theoretical questions or problems? In short, explain how your research will expand on existing anthropological ideas and how it promises to advance our understanding of the world or a particular problematic. This is also the place to state the main research questions guiding your work.

A. What methods will you use? To get what sort of information? How will your methodology produce information that you can link into an argument or description? Will your methods provide cross-checks on one another, or multiple ways to understand your research site or topic? If your methods are a signal improvement on existing ones in the field, offering the promise of more precise, more reliable, more abundant or more complete results, say so, and say why.

B. Analysis: Be sure you indicate not only what you want to find out and how you will go about it, but also how you plan to make sense of what you discover. How are you going to organize the material you learn? What tools will you use to analyze the information gathered in participant observation, or interview (for example)? Also, make sure to explain how you will gather the contextual information (background, regional history, other necessary social or political context) needed to support the more specific argument you hope to make.

4. Timetable and budget

Include key dates and all estimated expenses, as well as a budget for what you want the department to support.

5. Significance and Style

What contribution do you hope your project will make to anthropological literature and ideas? What kind of ethnography do you plan to produce: a life history, a problem-oriented ethnography, a comparative survey, a personal narrative, etc.? Is the style of the ethnography important for the work you hope to do?

6. Preliminary Bibliography

Make sure to provide a thorough list of sources you have consulted for your project: this will demonstrate that you have undertaken the necessary preparation for a project of this scale and magnitude.

Other guides to writing research proposals that might be helpful to explore:

* Sydel Silverman, “Writing Grant Proposals for Anthropological Research” for Wenner-Gren available here

* Michael Watts, "The Holy Grail: In Pursuit of the Dissertation Proposal" at UC Berkeley available here

The Anthropology Department's Ethics and Thesis Proposal Review Committee, composed of all faculty members in residence in any given spring semester, will review the Ethics Questionnaire and Thesis Research Proposals. Details regarding the review process can be found  here .   

--> see the Guidelines for the Ethics Questionnaire

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Ethnography Proposal Example for Direct-to-Consumer Genetics (DTCG)

Ethnography Proposal Example

As discussed in my last post, I recently completed my UNT applied anthropology thesis and plan to blog about that experience. I am hoping that up-and-coming students can find some of the content useful for their own journey. Furthermore, I think it is important that we are discussing the opportunities and threats of Direct-to-Consumer Genetics (DTCG).

So to begin, I am going to start by sharing an ethnography proposal example. This is the specific proposal I submitted to my potential client.

My DTCG Ethnography Proposal Example

Research Proposal

By: Matt Artz Stakeholder: [CLIENT NAME]

Last Updated: 8/22/2017

Genomics offers a tremendous opportunity to improve health outcomes, however, until recently, genomic sequencing was prohibitively expensive. The Human Genome Project which started in 1990, and took 13 years to completely sequence the entire human genome, cost $3 billion. But the costs did not end there. The costs of storing genetic data were also prohibitive given that a full genome sequence is about 200 gigabytes (GB) of data, and the average cost of storing data in the early 2000’s was $11/GB (Statistics Brain, 2016). However, over the past decade and a half, costs have plummeted. Today many direct-to-consumers genealogy services such as,, and sell partial genome sequencing services for genetic-genealogical research for around the $99 price point, and data storage is now offered for free with these services. This has helped to incentivize many more consumers to take part in this genealogical revolution.

However, despite the rise of genetic genealogy over the last decade, only a fraction of the US population is taking advantage of the opportunity genomics offers (Teo, 2017) for health. In fact, a recent UBS survey of 1,000 people representative of the US population found that only 5 percent said they had been tested on their own initiative, and 50 percent said they were likely not to get tested (Ray, 2016).

Access to genetic testing for health has also been a major hurdle. Despite the early success of companies like 23andMe which launched in 2007, the direct-to-consumer genomics market stalled in 2013 when the FDA sent shockwaves through the industry by ordering 23andMe to stop selling their tests given concerns “about the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the P.G.S. device” (FDA, 2014). However, this decision was reversed in April of 2017, and the direct-to-consumer genetic screening services were again allowed to report risk information for some conditions (FDA, 2017).

Compounding these issues is a lack of understanding on the part of consumers. In an August 2016 survey, 36 percent of consumer respondents stated they had not taken a genetic health test because there is “no need” and another 27 percent because they are “unware or need more information” (Rock Health, 2016).

However, the rise and popularity of genetic genealogy continues to spark interest. recently announced they had reached 4 million users, a fourth of which occurred between January and April of 2017 (, 2017) and UBS has made claims that they estimate the market to be valued at $7 billion based on their consumer research (Ray, 2016).

Given the growing market share of genetic genealogy consumers, [CLIENT NAME] is now looking to pivot from its initial focus on researchers and bioinformatics professionals to attract and retain consumers. As a result of this, it is looking to better understand potential consumer users, which includes individuals that have previously used genealogical genomics products but not health products like [CLIENT NAME], as well as those who have used genomics health products such as [CLIENT NAME].

Short-Term Goals For Client

The goal of the research is to develop a rich understanding of consumers perspectives of genomic products. Specifically, the research seeks to understand the differences between users who have previously used genomics-based genealogical products, but not genomics-related health products. It will also seek to understand how these different types of consumers make use of genomic products, why do they use these products, and what are their concerns. The research will then be used to advise [CLIENT NAME] on how to best attract their intended audience of consumers who are potential users of health data, and how to keep them using the platform.

Research Participants

The focus of the study involves two groups of consumers who are defined as individuals that have previously used genealogical genomics products but not health products like [CLIENT NAME], as well as those who have used genomics health products such as [CLIENT NAME].

Research Questions

Research Methods

Literature review.

The research will begin with a literature review of previously conducted research. The goal of the literature review is to begin to understand the landscape, uncover key insights that have been previously identified, and develop a theoretical framework for understanding consumer genomics.

Data Collection Tool Development

Following the literature review, an interview script will be developed based on the insights from the literature review to conduct some initial exploratory research, and then a follow-up interview script will be produced based on those insights for a deep dive interview session.

Ten participants, five male, and five female will be interviewed for the initial exploratory interviews. Twenty participants, ten male, and ten female will be interviewed for the deep dive interviews which will also involve participant observation.


Matt Artz will seek out participants of only genealogical services based on his network for the genealogical group of consumers. For the group of consumers who have already used health-related products, [CLIENT NAME] will pull a list of consumer users from their database.

In both cases, a random sample will be selected and contacted to ask if they would like to participate in the following research methods.

Data Collection Methods

Interview and Observational Data Analysis

The data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and graphical visualizations to examine the data for anomalies, and a multivariate analysis will be conducted to determine if any themes identified in the qualitative research relate to addressing the research questions.

Final Analysis will pull from multiple theoretical perspectives; models that may include anthropology, design, public health, and business will be used to analyze the data. (2017, April 27). AncestryDNA Reaches 4 Million Customers in DNA Database. From customers-in-dna-database/

FDA. (2014, March 28). Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations. From U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

FDA. (2017, April 4). FDA allows marketing of first direct-to-consumer tests that provide genetic risk information for certain conditions. From U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

Ray, T. (2016, May 12). Consumer Genomics Awareness High but Market Still Nascent, Survey Shows. From genomeweb: high-market-still-nascent-survey-shows

Rock Health. (2016, August 1). The Genomics Inflection Point: Implications for Healthcare. From Rock Health:

Statistics Brain. (2016, September 2). Average Cost of Hard Drive Storage. From Statistics Brain:

Teo, G. (2017, July 26). The Second Coming of Consumer Genomics with 3 Predictions for 2018. From MedCity News: 2018/

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