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Chapter 7. Solving Problems Through Peri... > Sample Professional Completion Repor...

Sample Professional Completion Report

Figure 7.6 is the rough draft of Patricia Wynjenek's completion report to Las Almas Buenas Foundation on the activities of her work in Indigo on economics and health care. She wrote the draft in the basic format of the first completion report discussed before, but one that could also serve for an article for possible publication in a professional anthropology journal.

Figure 7.6. Patricia Wynjenek's completion report

The front matter of Wynjenek's completion report is conventional. The letter of transmittal identifies the report (including the contract number in the reference line) and sends it to the appropriate person at Las Almas Buenas. It summarizes briefly Wynjenek's main conclusions, preparing the reader for the executive summary.

The title page includes necessary identifying information: author, contract number, recipient, and date.

The table of contents lists major and minor headings, so that readers can turn quickly to particular areas they may have interest in knowing more about. In fact, the main purpose of all front matter (with the possible exception of the acknowledgments) is to identify, summarize, and generally make it easier for busy readers to select parts of the report they consider of greatest interest and importance. This is one of the primary purposes of the kind of formatting we find in technical and professional writing: it allows efficient consideration of a document without requiring a complete linear reading from beginning to end.

The acknowledgments section mentions the people who were of special help to Wynjenek in her work, and she makes sure to include those who supported her financially.

The executive summary is conclusive, not descriptive. Wynjenek mentions the four areas about which she was able to draw significant conclusions, but more important, she is sure to mention, or allude to, the reasons they are significant. This clues the readers to the fact that Wynjenek's work has turned up new or different information about Mexican-American culture, and suggests those areas of the report readers may want to turn to for a full discussion.

Wynjenek's introduction does what a good introduction should do. It provides the necessary background of what has been done in the area of study, who has done it, when, and what it means for the basis and purpose of her study. It essentially sets the scene and prepares the reader for an intelligent reading of the rest of the report. Since Wynjenek does not include a separate review of literature (specified as appropriate for research reports in the second format discussed above), her specific references to older and more recent studies others have done help supply the kind of information a review of literature normally supplies.

She also mentions under the heading of the background of her study the basic methods she used: participant observation and interviewing. She says that the interview schedule (survey) was open-ended (questions not limited to a choice of possible answers) and specifies the way the interview was administered, including how many interviewers there were, how many people were interviewed, and how those people were chosen. She does not mention, perhaps because her audience would assume it, that not only the interviewers but also the interviewees were paid. Her introduction thus satisfies the need for more information on methods and materials, suggested above as appropriate for reports on primary research.

The discussion is not headed “Discussion” but rather is divided from the beginning into four major areas of investigation with appropriate headings: “Availability of Health Care,” “Family Size,” “Childbirth,” and “Traditional Healing.” Each major area is then subdivided into smaller areas of interest and given a minor heading: “Indigo's Medical Establishment,” “Mexican Alternatives to the Medical Establishment,” and so on. In this way, Wynjenek has organized her discussion to present the overall problem as one that is naturally made up of distinct parts that need to be analyzed and commented upon as they contribute to an understanding of the whole. Using the first major area of discussion, Availability of Health Care,” as an example, we can see the three basic ways Wynjenek has researched and analyzed the problem. We see these ways repeated, more or less consistently, throughout the report. 1. She uses purely secondary material, often in the form of Census reports, to establish some of the basic facts of the problem: how many doctors and dentists practice in this city of 100,000, where and how they have been educated and trained, and how these compare with other figures. Thus, readers find out that the number of doctors, a rate of 64.5 per 100,000 persons, is “respectable” for Texas as a whole.

2. She uses primary information gleaned from interviews about the following topics: how many people (usually in raw numbers and percentages) use established medical facilities—doctors, dentists, hospitals, and neighborhood clinics; how often they use the facilities; how those who use them pay for them (Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, unassisted means). Wynjenek implies that those who must use unassisted means to pay for medical care rarely do, simply because they don't have the means. 3. She uses participant observation, reported anecdotally, to determine how various residents respond to the medical care available to them. Thus readers are told that the private medical establishment, particularly, holds itself aloof from most of its patients; that patients have to wait long periods of time to see doctors; and that they often leave doctors' offices angry and frustrated, knowing very little more about what is wrong with them, or how they should go about making themselves better, than they did before their visits. Specific anecdotal evidence, like the case of the woman with the eye injury, illustrates and particularizes the experiences of the people in their dealings with the medical establishment.

As mentioned earlier, we see this pattern of analysis and reporting repeated. Under the major heading of “Family Size,” Wynjenek provides Census data on the birth rate in Indigo and how it has decreased dramatically; primary data from respondents on how and why they limit family size; and finally, interpretive notions, based on participant observation of limited family size (for one male respondent, the births of only two children in thirteen years of marriage) that have to do with how people think they are responding to culturally approved norms, and how they actually appear to be responding to them.

The same happens with “Childbirth” and “Traditional Healing,” although purely secondary material, like Census data, is noticeably lacking, mainly because respondents are even more reluctant to report such information to Census takers than they are to people like Wynjenek and her research assistants. Thus information about access to and use of prenatal care, traditional midwives (parteras), and curanderas, can be obtained only through primary means (answers to interviewers' questions.) Primary evidence seems to take over in these sections of the report. Readers learn about how many women take advantage of prenatal care, how many use parteras, how many go to professional physicians to find out about complications of their pregnancies, and how much they have to pay for such services. Anecdotally, readers also learn about how midwives work, how often their services are used, and what they change.

Further, readers learn about midwives, home remedies, traditional healers, and the ail ments they treat. Wynjenek is sure to point out that although there is a certain embarrassment (she more significantly calls it “opprobrium” attached to traditional healing methods, the people of La Fabrica take part in them. The evidence Wynjenek presents in these sections is more clearly and dramatically anecdotal, even more convincing because it comes from individual sources, who have decided for any number of reasons to be forthcoming in their responses. One example involves the death of a young woman who lived in Pollo Blanco, who had come to a partera in Indigo for the delivery of her child. Another example tells about a woman who traveled back to Chicago, where she had an aunt living, who could help her in the last hours of her pregnancy, because she could not get the help she needed in Indigo. A third example deals with the problem of one of Wynjenek's informants and friends who had been suffering from a stomach ailment, who had first used established medical means to diagnose and treat the ailment; then when none of that treatment seemed to work, had gone to a curandera in Pollo Blanco; and finally, when that treatment had not worked, had gone back to established medical care in Indigo. Her review of the steps that the man took to get better indicates that although the established means of his cure eventually worked, he couldn't rule out the traditional means, mainly because he perhaps hadn't believed strongly enough in them.

Wynjenek's conclusions, although implied throughout the report, are separately laid out for readers to consider immediately if they want to. They expand upon and develop the conclusions she has offered in both the letter of transmittal and the executive summary, and again they suggest the significance that the study has had, not only for the time in which it was done, but also for the future. Readers can decide from her conclusions whether what she has done and what she thinks it means is significant enough to ask her for specific recommendations about what should be done in the future, or whether projects like hers should be supported in similar ways in the future. Patricia Wynjenek has written a typical completion report. With a few modifications, it is also in good shape to submit to a professional journal for possible publication.



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