The Etniker project designed by José Miguel de Barandiaran first and foremost sought to be the systematic recording of the cultural facts that make up the life of a place; secondly, the idea was to summarise the material obtained in the different parts of the Basque Country in a cultural atlas. A strategy was therefore implemented and structured as follows:
- The researcher would be linked to the location s/he studied either due to being a native of the place or having lived there for a long period, which would facilitate the research as the researcher would know the facts reported or understand them in their context.
- All the researchers would follow the same methodology and questionnaire.
- Knowledge of the local language and its dialect would make it easier to approach the people interviewed and interpret the data gathered.
- The information gathered would go back as far as the memory of the people surveyed, no further than a couple of generations earlier. The changes and the situation at the time of survey would also be noted.
- During the territorial meetings, the different members analysed the data obtained to compare them and check that the approach was correct.
The study area of the Atlas is what we call the Basque Country, divided into a part that falls within the Spanish State with two political authorities: the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, comprising the provinces of Álava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, and the Autonomous Community of Navarra, and the other part within the Spanish State with Labourd, Nafarroa Beherea and Zuberoa in the Pyrénées Atlantiques.
Barandiaran prepared a questionnaire, entitled a Guide for an Ethnographic Survey, for the Etniker project and which took into account the recommendations made in the European ethnology forums. That questionnaire has b een used by all the members of the Etniker Group to conduct the different research campaigns of the Atlas. It consisted of 840 questions arranged in themes.
The resulting ethnographic studies have been disseminated in publications such as Cuadernos de Etnología y Etnografía de Navarra, Anuario de Eusko Folklore, Ohitura, Boletín Etniker-Bizkaia and Boletín del Museo Vasco de Baiona.