As Pelias astutely argued more than two decades ago, we devote much of our waking life to critique and evaluation.1 We assess our and others’ (re)actions. We determine whether certain foods, drinks, and flavors will quench us, give us energy, make us sick. We appreciate caring and supportive friends, family, strangers, and students, and we try to avoid those who harm us with their words and deeds. We note how bodies and desires change with time, age, circumstance. We make choices about the places we (won’t) visit and the clothing we (won’t) wear. For those of us who instruct, we assess students (e.g., grades) and they assess us (e.g., course evaluations). We may favor exciting and enthralling stories over boring and unrealistic ones, and, as academics, we often make decisions about good and not-so-good research, journals, publishers. Indeed, across a multitude of contexts, we evaluate the quality and desirability of choices, objects, and entities, and we make decisions about which/who is (not) worthy of our energy and attention.

As editors of this journal, we spend much of our time critiquing and evaluating autoethnographic manuscripts. Did the author use autoethnography appropriately? Does the manuscript align with our editorial vision? Accept, Revise & Resubmit, or (desk) Reject? We use criteria for evaluating manuscripts2—required criteria for the journal to be supported and deemed worthy by the University of California Press and organizations like Scopus—and we try to be clear and constructive on what “good autoethnography” means to us.3 We care about evaluating autoethnographies because we believe good autoethnographies have a better chance of being read, understood, shared, and used; not-so-good autoethnographies might never be found or, if they are, might promote bad ideas, be ridiculed and dismissed,4 or be terribly misunderstood. (And if an author doesn’t care about audiences, about readership and being read, then there isn’t a need to publish their manuscript.)

Here, with this editorial, we offer some general insights about the evaluation process—what we’ve learned these past few years about what passes, for us and for reviewers, as good and not-so-good autoethnography. And as we have done in our previous editorials,5 we will again emphasize the core components of “autoethnography”—the “auto-,” the “-ethno-,” and the “-graphy.”

The “auto-” of autoethnography relates to one-self, an author’s subjectivity, their lived experience. For manuscripts to do/use autoethnography, we expect the author to share and be self-reflexive about their decisions and experiences. We expect manuscripts to offer unique insights about doing social research, often with the goal to improve research practice, or to demonstrate the epistemic potential of personal experience—that is, to show how we can use this experience to study specific issues and topics more effectively than other research methods.

We don’t think the auto- component is difficult to comprehend, yet we receive manuscripts that contain very little personal experience or reflection on this experience. For example, a thirty-page manuscript that espouses to do/use autoethnography but includes only one to two pages of the author’s experience isn’t good autoethnography—there isn’t enough autoethnographic “data.”

Sometimes we’ve had authors claim that a manuscript that includes only the personal experiences of others (e.g., oral histories, interviews) is autoethnographic because the manuscript uses others’ reflections on their personal experiences. We find this justification unfounded and inappropriate, as it would make any study that relies on others’ experiences “autoethnographic.” Surveys, interviews, focus groups, and oral histories often gather and analyze the experiences of others, and doing a grounded theory or thematic analysis on others’ experiences isn’t the focus or purpose of autoethnography. By collecting and then taking apart other peoples’ stories, and treating the stories as objective data, they become “narratives-under-analysis.”6 This is not to say these other forms of qualitative research aren’t valuable. They are. They are just not autoethnographies.

For manuscripts in this journal, we expect the author’s experience to be prioritized—used, reflected on, and theorized throughout a manuscript. Of course, others’ experiences may be included in a project (which we’ll mention in the next section) but the author’s insights, experiences, and reflections should be present throughout the manuscript.

And which personal experiences? And how should an author use them? For us, personal experience must be used deliberately and for the purpose of offering unique insights about social life about a specified topic—insights not possible using other methods. For example, we often reject “life chronology” manuscripts that attempt to assemble disparate moments from a person’s life without much focus or purpose. In tone and form, life chronologies read like this:

I was born in 1972. My parents divorced in 1976. I enjoyed math in grade school. As a child, I had three dogs and one fish. I attended college. I got a job. I married. I changed jobs. I divorced. I had Covid. I like to visit my sister. Traveling is fun. Twitter is fun too.

Life-chronologies tend to be rote ramblings about a myriad of topics and personal experiences—and, for us, are examples of not-so-good autoethnography. Generally, good autoethnography is focused on one event or experience, or several experiences around the same topic or theme.

Similarly, one aspect of the auto- that is missing from life chronology writing is the expression and the experience of emotion. As writers and researchers, we just don’t know things; we feel them. Good autoethnography does not downplay the fact that people are emotional beings.7 We experience love, anger, despair, joy, bliss, disgust, and all the other feelings that comprise the range of human emotions. In good autoethnography, the narrative’s verisimilitude is built through the author’s emotional integrity.8

And yet, the mere sharing of personal experience does not make a project “autoethnographic.” The -ethno- is a core component of auto-ethno-graphy. The -ethno- is the component that pushes us outside of and beyond ourselves. As such, a manuscript must demonstrate a working knowledge of the key principles and practices of ethnography, or it can’t be considered good autoethnography.

The primary goal of ethnographic research is to identify, and sometimes challenge, cultural expectations, beliefs, and practices, and then, via “thick description,”9 facilitate a nuanced understanding of these cultural phenomena. Ethnographers use various techniques to accomplish this goal.

Ethnographers value fieldwork—sometimes referred to as “participant observation” and “deep hanging out”—in “natural settings,” accidental situations10 or contexts that exist regardless of a researcher’s presence. They may do such fieldwork by immersing themselves in and recording the everyday happenings of an in-person and/or online community,11 or they may demonstrate what it may mean and how it may feel to live with a particular trait, identity, experience, or relationship across a variety of contexts.12 Some ethnographers do archival research or conduct formal or informal interviews with persons who’ve had specified kinds of experiences.13 And some ethnographers engage extant theories and research,14 as well as more popular texts15 (e.g., films, books, news reports, blogs, social media posts) about certain topics.16 An ethnographic study need not use all of these techniques, but it should use at least a few of them, or else the -ethno- component of autoethnography goes unfulfilled.

Once the ethnographer completes some of these tasks, the goal is then to craft that thick description of their observations of, and experiences with, specified cultural expectations, beliefs, and practices. This process is the “-graphy” component of good (auto)ethnography.

When -graphy is used as a suffix, it is used to emphasize the art and practice of engaging and creating specific processes and representations. Cartography—the art and science of map-making; photography—the art and science of capturing and processing images; musicography—the art of writing music; choreography—the art of staging movement and dance.

Auto-ethno-graphy is comprised of not one but two kinds of -graphy: the -graphy of autobio-graphy, the art of writing about one’s life; and the -graphy of ethno-graphy, the art and science of representing—producing a vivid and concrete, thick description—of cultural expectations, beliefs, and practices. Together, we have autoethnography, the art and science of representing one’s life in relation to cultural expectations, beliefs, and practices.

In addition, ethnography (and thus autoethnography) is one of the few research methods that includes -graphy as a core component. We don’t do interview-graphy or content-analysis-graphy research, nor do we create case-study-graphies or phenomenology-graphies. And so, if an author doesn’t care about -graphy, if they craft sterile and boring texts—a sin for both serious autobiographers and ethnographers—then they are not doing good autoethnography.17

For this journal, an outlet that takes writing as a primary medium for representation, good ethnography requires good writing. Good autobiography requires good writing too. Autoethnography thus requires really good writing. Really good writing requires having a command of a specified language (for this journal, we are limited to English). As such, to evaluate autoethnography, especially written autoethnographies, we begin by assessing basic writing practices: the structure and assemblage of symbols into coherent fragments (e.g., words, sentences) in a particular language. If authors are careless with their writing and submit work with an abundance of errors, or incomplete or difficult to comprehend sentences, then we might misunderstand the work or consider the work to be inadequate.18 Although minor errors are common in any manuscript, an abundance of errors can suggest a carelessness in craft and an author’s apathy about their observations and arguments and, correspondingly, readers’ ability to understand the text. And if a text can’t be deciphered or easily understood, then it likely won’t be read, understood, shared, and used.

Finally, although the introduction-literature review-methods-findings-discussion-conclusion formula may be expected of many research reports, this sterile formula for writing up research isn’t conducive for doing good autoethnography. Granted, many of us (ourselves included!) learned to write this way when doing our thesis and dissertations, as part of being socialized as social scientists. The format, however, is generally a bad fit for autoethnography. Neither of us have ever read an autobiography structured in such a way, nor have we read many, if any, good ethnographies that follow the formula. Although there are some solid autoethnographies that follow this structure, a manuscript that follows it will, upon initial editorial review, be wholly suspect. To us, the format suggests that the author hasn’t read much about autoethnography, isn’t familiar with examples of good autoethnography, and, more broadly, doesn’t have much concern for the -graphy component of the method.

* * *

The connective tissue between the “auto-,” “-ethno-,” and “-graphy” is the idea that you, the researcher, are the research tool.19 Your mind, body, instincts and intuitions, interests, emotions, experiences, perspectives, values and beliefs, and everything else makes you a one-of-a-kind research instrument. We want to experience the world through your senses and your voice, and we want to learn about topics that you find worthy of your energy and attention.

Although we are also working on a fuller book manuscript about assessing autoethnography that should be published in 2024, we use this editorial to describe our understanding of the core components of autoethnography—components that we rely on for evaluation. Determining “good autoethnography” means starting with these components. We expect manuscripts to foreground the author’s personal experience, and there must be a purpose for sharing these experiences. If the manuscript contains unfocused lived experience, demonstrates a lack of awareness about the cultural discourse about a topic, and offers a sterile and boring read, then the author isn’t doing good autoethnography. As such, their work—their insights, arguments, voice—may never be published, read, understood, shared, or used.


Ronald J. Pelias, “The Critical Life, Communication Education 49, no. 3 (2000): 220–228.


On the journal’s submission site, we offer a general overview of our primary evaluative criteria—the criteria we and reviewers use to assess the goodness of a manuscript:

When a manuscript is submitted to the journal, the editors do a cursory review of it to confirm that it would be appropriate for the journal. The editors (and reviewers) use the following criteria to assess manuscripts:

  • the use and application of autoethnography

  • original contribution to autoethnographic scholarship

  • engagement with relevant autoethnographic literature

  • quality of the writing

If a manuscript doesn’t foreground the use of autoethnography, contribute to autoethnographic scholarship, engage relevant autoethnography literature, and isn’t well written, the editors will either reject the manuscript or request revisions of the author.


Several researchers have written about the importance of, and criteria for, evaluating autoethnography. See, for example, Tony E. Adams, “Autoethnographic Responsibilities,” International Review of Qualitative Research 10, no. 1 (2017): 62–66,; Tony E. Adams, “Introduction: Supervising, Sharing, and Evaluating Autoethnography,” in International Perspectives on Autoethnographic Research and Practice, eds. Lydia Turner, Nigel P. Short, Alec Grant, and Tony E. Adams (New York: Routledge, 2018), 199–210; Keith Berry, “Implicated Audience Member Seeks Understanding: Reexamining the ‘Gift’ of Autoethnography,” International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5, no. 3 (2006): 94–108,; Keith Berry, “Autoethnography,” in The Cambridge Handbook of Identity, eds. Michael Bamberg, Carolin Demuth, and Meike Watzlawik (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022), 324–344; Arthur P. Bochner, “Criteria against Ourselves,” Qualitative Inquiry 6, no. 2 (June 2000): 266–272,; Carolyn Ellis, “Creating Criteria: An Ethnographic Short Story,” Qualitative Inquiry 6, no. 2 (June 2000): 273–277,; Carolyn Ellis, The Ethnographic I: A Methodological Novel about Autoethnography (Walnut Creek: AltaMira, 2004), 249–268; Ragan Fox, “Recalling Emotional Recall: Reflecting on the Methodological Significance of Affective Memory in Autoethnography,” Text and Performance Quarterly 41, no. 1–2 (2021): 61–80,; Craig Gingrich-Philbrook, “Autoethnography’s Family Values: Easy Access to Compulsory Experiences,” Text and Performance Quarterly 25, no. 4 (2005): 297–314,; Craig Gingrich-Philbrook, “Evaluating (Evaluations of) Autoethnography,” in Handbook of Autoethnography, eds. Stacy Holman Jones, Tony E. Adams, and Carolyn Ellis (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2013), 609–626; Alec Grant, “Autoethnography,” in Critical Qualitative Health Research: Exploring Philosophies, Politics and Practices, ed. Kay Aranda (New York: Routledge, 2020), 159–176; Alec Grant and Susan Young, “Troubling Tolichism in Several Voices: Resisting Epistemic Violence in Creative Analytical and Critical Autoethnographic Practice,” Journal of Autoethnography 3, no. 1 (2022): 103–117,; Andrew Herrmann, “The Future of Autoethnographic Criteria,” International Review of Qualitative Research 15, no. 1 (2022): 125–135,; Sherick Hughes, Julie L. Pennington, and Sara Makris, “Translating Autoethnography across the AERA Standards: Toward Understanding Autoethnographic Scholarship as Empirical Research,” Educational Researcher 41, no. 6 (2012): 209–219,; Ufuk Keleş, “Writing a ‘Good’ Autoethnography in Educational Research: A Modest Proposal,” The Qualitative Report 27, no. 9 (2022): 2026–2046,; Ronald J. Pelias, “Writing into Position: Strategies for Composition and Evaluation,” in The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, 4th ed., eds. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2011), 659–668; Laurel Richardson, “Evaluating Ethnography,” Qualitative Inquiry 6, no. 2 (June 2000): 253–255,; Robert Schroeder, “Evaluative Criteria for Autoethnographic Research: Who’s to Judge?,” in The Self as Subject: Autoethnographic Research into Identity, Culture, and Academic Librarianship, eds. Anne-Marie Deitering and Robert Schroeder (Chicago: ACRL Publications, 2017), 315–346; Nigel P. Short and Alec Grant, “Burnard (2007): Autoethnography or a Realist Account?” Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 16, no. 2 (2009): 196–198,; Andrew C. Sparkes, “Autoethnography and Narratives of Self: Reflections on Criteria in Action,” Sociology of Sport Journal 17, no. 1 (2000): 21–43,; Andrew C. Sparkes, “Creating Criteria for Evaluating Autoethnography: Pedagogical Possibilities and Problems with Lists,” in International Perspectives on Autoethnographic Research and Practice, eds. Lydia Turner, Nigel P. Short, Alec Grant, and Tony E. Adams (New York: Routledge, 2018), 256–267; Andrew C. Sparkes, “Autoethnography: Accept, Revise, Reject? An Evaluative Self Reflects,” Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health 12, no. 2 (2020): 289–302, doi:10.1080/2159676X.2020.1732453; Andrew C. Sparkes, “When Judgment Calls: Making Sense of Criteria for Evaluating Different Forms of Autoethnography,” in Handbook of Autoethnography, 2nd ed., eds. Tony E. Adams, Stacy Holman Jones, and Carolyn Ellis (New York: Routledge, 2022), 263–276.


For instance, consider the debate about, and ultimate dismissal of, Karl Andersson’s “I Am Not Alone—We are All Alone: Using Masturbation as an Ethnographic Method in Research on Shota Subculture in Japan,” Qualitative Research (2022), doi: 10.1177/14687941221096600. The article has since been removed from the journal.


Tony E. Adams and Andrew F. Herrmann, “Expanding Our Autoethnographic Future,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 1 (2020): 1–8,; Andrew F. Herrmann and Tony E. Adams, “Learning to be Editors,” Journal of Autoethnography 2, no. 1 (2021): 1–4,; Andrew F. Herrmann and Tony E. Adams, “Autoethnography and the ‘So What?’ Question,” Journal of Autoethnography 3, no. 1 (2022): 1–3.


Arthur P. Bochner, “Narrative’s Virtues.” Qualitative Inquiry 7, no. 2 (2001): 131–157,; Arthur P. Bochner and Andrew F. Herrmann, “Practicing Narrative Inquiry II: Making Meanings Move,” in The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Inquiry, 2nd ed., ed. Patricia Leavy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 285–328.


For decades, individually and together, Art Bochner and Carolyn Ellis have argued for the importance and inclusion of emotions in research. See, for example, Arthur P. Bochner, “It’s about Time: Narrative and the Divided Self,” Qualitative Inquiry 3, no. 4 (1997): 418–438,; Arthur P. Bochner, “Narrative’s Virtues,” Qualitative Inquiry 7, no. 2 (2001): 131–157,; Arthur P. Bochner, Coming to Narrative: A Personal History of Paradigm Change in the Human Sciences (New York: Routledge, 2016); Arthur Bochner and Carolyn Ellis, Evocative Autoethnography: Writing Lives and Telling Stories (New York: Routledge, 2016); Carolyn Ellis, “Sociological Introspection and Emotional Experience,” Symbolic Interaction 14, no. 1 (1991): 23–50,; Carolyn Ellis, “Emotional Sociology,” Studies in Symbolic Interaction 12 (1991): 123–145; Carolyn Ellis, “Evocative Autoethnography: Writing Emotionally about our Lives,” in Representation and the Text: Re-framing the Narrative Voice, eds. William G. Tierney and Yvonna S. Lincoln (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1997): 115–139; Carolyn Ellis, Revision: Autoethnographic Reflections on Life and Work, classic edition (New York: Routledge, 2020); and Carolyn Ellis and Arthur P. Bochner, “Bringing Emotion and Personal Narrative into Medical Social Science,” Health 3, no. 2 (1999): 229–237, For additional readings about the use and importance of emotions in/for autoethnography, see Ragan Fox, “Recalling Emotional Recall: Reflecting on the Methodological Significance of Affective Memory in Autoethnography,” Text and Performance Quarterly 41, no. 1–2 (2021): 61–80,; Andrew F. Herrmann, The Routledge International Handbook of Organizational Autoethnography (New York: Routledge, 2020); Brian Johnston, “Breathe: Pathways to Healing Where ‘Peace Is Every Step,’” Journal of Autoethnography 2, no. 2 (2021): 256–261,; Nick Trujillo and Bob Krizek, “Emotionality in the Stands and in the Field: Expressing Self through Baseball,” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 18 (1994): 303–325.


Arthur P. Bochner, “Criteria against Ourselves,” Qualitative Inquiry 6, no. 2 (2000): 266–272, https://doi.org10.1177/107780040000600209; Sarah Symonds LeBlanc, “Disconnect-Connect: 31 Minutes of September 20, 2018,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 3 (2020): 274–283.


“Thick description” is the ethnographer’s use of concrete and vivid details, character and scene development, dialogue, and evocative prose to create a nuanced and sensual representation of cultural life. Thick description is a hallmark of good ethnography. See Clifford Geertz, Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973).


Christopher N. Poulos, Accidental Ethnography: An Inquiry into Family Secrecy (New York: Routledge, 2019).


See Tasha R. Dunn and W. Benjamin Myers, “Contemporary Autoethnography Is Digital Autoethnography: A Proposal for Maintaining Methodological Relevance in Changing Times,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 1 (2020): 43–59,; Kathryn Mara, “The Remains of Humanity: An Autoethnographic Account of a Misery Tourist in Rwanda,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 1 (2020): 16–28,; and Amber Roessner and Carrie Teresa, “Always Already Hailed: Negotiating Memory and Identity at the Newseum,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 2 (2020): 156–174.


See Vernon F. Humphrey, “I Can’t Be Blind, I Can See,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 4: 370–377, doi:; Alexis Zoe Waters Johnson, “Living in Silence: An Autoethnography of Relating, Coping, and Navigating Daily Challenges with Hearing Impairment,” Journal of Autoethnography 2, no. 1 (2021): 39–54,; Burhanettin Keskin, “When ‘Even’ Is Uneven: ‘Inclusion’ as Exclusion,” Journal of Autoethnography 2, no. 4 (2021): 396–404, doi:; Adam Key, “The Silent A: A Critical Soundtrack of Asexuality,” Journal of Autoethnography 2, no. 4 (2021): 446–465, doi:; David Kottenstette, “Portrait at an Exhibition: An Unlikely Affair with Grief,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 1 (2020): 29–42,; Daicia Price, “Black Coffee: No Sugar, No Cream,” Journal of Autoethnography 2, no. 4 (2021): 421–433,; and Elizabeth Stephens, “Homicide by Police: Coping with Traumatic Death,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 2 (2020): 111–121.


See, for example, Jennifer L. Adams, “Writing Others’ Stories: Autoethnographic Reflections on Historical Research, Representation, and Bakhtin,” Journal of Autoethnography 3, no. 1 (2022): 4–18,; Keith Berry, Bullied: Tales of Torment, Identity, and Youth (New York: Routledge, 2016); Robin M. Boylorn, Sweetwater: Black Women and Narratives of Resilience (New York: Peter Lang, 2017); Carolyn Ellis, “Manifesting Compassionate Autoethnographic Research: Focusing on Others,” International Review of Qualitative Research 10, no. 1 (2017): 54–61,; Carolyn Ellis and Jerry Rawicki, “The Clean Shirt: A Flicker of Hope in Despair,” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 48, no. 1 (2019): 3–15, doi:.o0r.g1/107.171/0778/901892142146116717669966809; Carolyn Ellis and Chris Patti, “With Heart: Compassionate Interviewing and Storytelling with Holocaust Survivors,” Storytelling, Self, Society 10, no. 1 (2014): 93–118.


For autoethnographies that utilize and expand on various extant theories, see Leon Anderson, “Garfinkeling in Real Life: The Candid Sociology of ‘Neon Leon,’” Journal of Autoethnography 2, no. 4 (2021): 369–379,; Amber Esping, “Autoethnography and Existentialism: The Conceptual Contributions of Viktor Frankl,” Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 41, no. 2 (2010): 201–215,; Elissa Foster, “Hurricanes: A Narrative of Conflict Cycles in a Distressed Marriage,” in Studies in Symbolic Interaction 24 (2001): 171–193,; Andrew F. Herrmann, Autoethnography as Acts of Love,” in The Handbook of Autoethnography, 2nded., eds. Stacy Holman Jones, Tony E. Adams, and Carolyn Ellis (New York: Routledge, 2021), 67–78; Faith W. Ngunjiri, “Existential Crisis in a Global Pandemic: Writing Autoethnography,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 4 (2020): 408–413,; Dominic Pecoraro, “Cut, Snap: Tales of Queer Face and Privacy,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 2, 122–136.


For autoethnographies that examine popular culture artifacts and contexts, see Robin M. Boylorn, “Killing Me Softly, or on the Miseducation of (Love and) Hip Hop: A Blackgirl Autoethnography,” Qualitative Inquiry 22, no. 10 (2016): 785–789,; Andrew F. Herrmann, “Communication and Ritual at the Comic Book Shop: The Convergence of Organizational and Popular Cultures,” Journal of Organizational Ethnography 7, no. 3 (2018): 285–301,; Andrew F. Herrmann, “Daniel Amos and Me: The Power of Pop Culture and Autoethnography,” The Popular Culture Studies Journal 1, no. 2 (2013): 6–17,; Russell G. Heywood, “Autoethnography for Extraterrestrials,” Journal of Autoethnography 1, no. 2 (2020): 175–185,; Jimmie Manning and Tony E. Adams, “Popular Culture Studies and Autoethnography: An Essay on Method,” Popular Culture Studies Journal 3, no. 1 (2015): 197–222,; Michaela D.E. Meyer, “Living the Romance through Castle: Exploring Autoethnography, Popular Culture and Romantic Television Narratives,” Popular Culture Studies Journal 3, no. 1 (2015): 245–269,; Adam W. Tyma, “Finding the ‘I’ in “Fan: Structures of Performed Identity within Fan Spaces," in The Routledge International Handbook of Organizational Autoethnography, Andrew F. Herrmann, ed. (New York: Routledge, 2020), 287–297.


For autoethnographies that examine online sites and texts, films, and other forms of representation, see Carolina Are, “The Shadowban Cycle: An Autoethnography of Pole Dancing, Nudity and Censorship on Instagram,” Feminist Media Studies (2021): 1–18,; Ahmet Atay, “What Is Cyber or Digital Autoethnography?” International Review of Qualitative Research 13, no. 3 (2020): 267–279,; Maha Bali, “Organizing Autoethnography on the Internet: Models and Challenges,” in The Routledge International Handbook of Organizational Autoethnography, ed. Andrew F. Herrmann (New York: Routledge, 2020), 470–483; Andrew F. Herrmann and Art Herbig, “An Autoethnography of Working, Failing, and Reworking Public Scholarship,” in Popularizing Scholarly Research: Research Methods and Practices, ed. P. Leavy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), 104–131; Brian Johnston, “Framing Stories from the Academic Margins: Documentary as Qualitative Inquiry and Critical Community Engagement,” The Routledge International Handbook of Organizational Autoethnography, ed. Andrew F. Herrmann (New York: Routledge, 2020), 437–456; Rima Wilkes, “Dialogic Autoethnography: A Professor Goes Internet Dating and Learns about Positionality,” Journal of Autoethnography 3, no. 1 (2022): 65–83.


In The Ethnographic I—a, if not the, classic text about autoethnography—Carolyn Ellis even includes the chapter, “Thinking Like an Ethnographer, Writing Like a Novelist.” There, Ellis describes the importance of using plots, characters, scenes, and dialogue in autoethnographic projects. Ellis, The Ethnographic I, 330–350.


Granted, assessing writing craft illustrates the “narrative privilege” of evaluation—the privilege of evaluating work in a particular language and/or medium (writing); unfortunately, scholars skilled in the ability to use a language and/or medium proficiently often fare better than people who don’t; see Tony E. Adams, “A Review of Narrative Ethics,” Qualitative Inquiry 14, no. 2 (2008): 175–194, doi: 10.1177/1077800407304417. With evaluation, we try to balance assessing a work as understandable and decipherable for readers and reviewers while also try to offer support and create space for multiple languages, translations, and nontextual forms of representation.


Forrest Stuart, “Introspection, Positionality, and the Self as Research Instrument: Toward a Model of Abductive Reflexivity,” in Approaches to Ethnography: Analysis and Representation in Participant Observation, eds. Colin Jerolmack and Shamus Khan (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018): 211–237; René Moelker, “Being One of the Guys or the Fly on the Wall? Participant Observation of Veteran Bikers,” in Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in Military Studies, eds. Joseph Soeters, Patricia M. Shields, and Sebastiaan Rietjens (New York, Routledge, 2014), 124–135.