My biggest struggles in creating the technical papers were balancing methodology versus interpretation, as well as determining the appropriate focuses due to abstract and unclear target audiences.
Regarding methodology, I tended to not provide enough detail, and struggled sometimes with the very simple requirement of spelling out a few methodological steps. I would forget, for example, to explicitly state how one particular calculation was achieved, or would give insufficient background on the data, thus making it difficult to ensure the report was replicable.
Regarding interpretation, I tended to focus sometimes on softer and more sociological interpretation, rather than an executive summary which restated the key numbers. For me, it was hard to find the language to clearly convey a long series of numbers, and for that reason I began to include more tables and charts, when useful. Furthermore, I was concerned that my writing was perhaps not concrete enough when interpreting budgeting or other policy implications. I tended towards more macro issues, while in all likelihood a very clear summary of more micro concerns was more relevant.
These challenges related largely to the fact I was writing for an abstract and unclear target audience. By trying to make the technical papers sufficient for all audiences — ranging between dissemination to the general public to closed circulation among seasoned experts — I was perhaps making the papers insufficient for any specific audience. One possibility that would have perhaps helped would have been to write several shorter sections under clear subheadings, but this would have wasted important space when I was limited to a few pages. I struggled with writing concisely, when wanting to include a lot of content for a broad range of audiences.
Also, I may have broadly been sometimes off-focus. I was deeply worried about whether I was adequately covering all the necessary bases. For example, I even addressed issues beyond the included data, by raising questions about racial and other inequalities.
With these concerns in mind, I was deeply concerned by some weak-performing assignments with lower grades (down to the cusp of 90%) which reflected the fact that I was providing insufficient methodological information as well as unclear/anemic interpretation.
Nonetheless, this type of report was tremendously helpful to practice writing. One area where I saw it being particularly useful in the future was in looking at camp populations, where in-migration and out-migration were major factors. Another area where these types of reports could be useful would be in looking at populations in the United States by age grouping, for immigrants who listed Iraq as their country of origin. It would be interesting to explore shifting patterns of who was emigrating from Iraq and at what age.
Through becoming comfortable with CCRs and GPRs, it seemed like in the future I would be able to include such projects as a matter of routine when looking at populations. Furthermore, the interpolation method was also very useful, especially when looking at a country like Iraq where censuses have been inconsistent.