book report format

Book Report Format for Anthropology 212


You are required to write a seven to nine page (about 315 words per page for a total of 2205 to 2835 words) book report on an ethnography of your choice that has been approved by me.  To gain approval bring the book to me before or after class or during my office hours.  My GTA will record your selection.  Please note that your report must be on a book approved by me.  Nevertheless, you may change your book at any time so long as you inform us and go through a new approval process.

Thousands of ethnographies have been written so you should have considerable latitude in choosing one that suits your interests.  If you have a problem selecting an ethnography on a particular topic or area of the world, visit me and I will see what I can do to assist  you.

To help you gain an idea of what I consider to be an excellent book report, copies of previous book reports for this class are electronically available through Blackboard.  To view these reports log-on to your Blackboard account, scroll down to Anthropology 212, click on the "Course Documents Link, and then click on the "Model Book Reports" link".

The book report will count 25% of your total class grade and is due the day indicated on the course syllabus. If you wish, you may turn in a rough (but readable and complete) first draft on or before 19 April for comments and a preliminary grade. I will return your draft with my comments to you by 28 April. You then have the option of changing the report or resubmitting it unchanged on 28 April the day the book report is due.  Please send first and final drafts to me at  Please name your file "last name-book-report", or something similar that contains your name.

In general, the report should follow the outline described below. Be aware that this is an all purpose outline and it may be impossible or difficult to answer some of the outlined questions. For example, in older ethnographies ethnographers don't describe their methods. In such a case, simply state that the ethnographer did not describe his or her methods, and move on to the next topic.

I. Introduction: a clear statement of the central theme, focus, issue, or problem the ethnographer investigated.

II. Methods: describe the methods the ethnographer used to collect data (e.g., interview, participant-observation) and the techniques (e.g., statistical, case study) used to analyze the data.

III. Body of paper (about two-thirds of the report):

A. Provide a chapter-by-chapter survey of the contents of the ethnography and evaluate how well it supports the stated goal(s) of the ethnography.
B. Be sure to Discuss the most important issues of the ethnography and attempt to relate them (whenever possible) to what you have learned from the lectures, videos, or assigned texts and web readings.
IV. Discussion and Conclusion:
A. What is the theoretical perspective of the ethnographer and how does it color his or her analysis of the data?
B. Is the ethnographer convincing, that is, are the methods and data adequate for dealing with the research problems?
C. Does the author attempt to generalize the findings through use of the comparative method?
D. How did the ethnography help you understand more deeply something about your own culture?
E. How did the ethnography reinforce or undermine any of your assumptions about human behavior?
  • Please review Section 4.2 of UNL's Student Code of Conduct for definitions and warnings about plagiarism.  If you plagiarize you will receive an F
  • The paper should be computer printer or typed. Papers may contain hand-marked editorial changes (e.g., corrections of misspelled words, insertions of new words or sentences) as long as they don't make the paper too difficult to read. Please use standard editorial marks when making these changes.
  • The paper should have a front page containing your name, the course name, book title, and author name.  Do not place it in a special binder - simply staple the pages together.
  • All ethnographies must be approved by me. To accomplish this, please bring the book to class or to my office so I may look at it.
  • Final Note: Failure to take an exam or turn in a book report on the day assigned will result in 0 grade. Only an illness, family emergency, or some dire extenuating circumstance will persuade me to give you a make-up exam (essay format) or to extend the book report due date.  Retain a copy of your book report in case the one you wrote or submitted to me disappears (e.g., even if your dog eats it you should have a duplicate).

The following links contain a list of ethnogaphies many of which have paragraph description of the contents.  About 90% of these are acceptable but be sure to have me approve the book before you begin.

  • Wadsworth-Thompson once there, click on "case studies" or "cultural anthropology".  You will arrive at a variety of book titles that you can click on for further information. 

Search Strategies at Love Library

The best way find ethnographies at Love Library is to use a "subject" search.  Here is how you can do it.  First log-on to love library at  Once there, select "Catalogs" and then "UNL Libraries Catalog".  Under "Search catalog by" select"subject".  A subject search screen will appear and in it type "social life and customs".  The result will be more than 5,00 entries.  At this point you can begin to scan through the entries or, more productively, you can use the "limit search" option at the bottom of the page to search within.  For example, using the "words in title" option you can add words such as "women" or "Africa" or "Indians" to bring up ethnographies or groups of ethnographies that deal with topics specified.


Clarity and directness are prized.  Avoid this inspiration: