Interim field reports:
During my first fieldtrip in 1982 and 1983, I sent quarterly reports to the Research Officer in Madang Province with copies going to my advisor, the Research in Melanesia Officer at UPNG, and the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies. These reports were required. They are often resented by researchers as taking time away from research. But, as I discovered, they were very useful for assessing what I had accomplished during a particular three-month period and deciding what needed to be done in the next quarter. Indeed, it was only while I was mulling over how or if to report the Gende's passion for gambling that I came to a full realization of gambling's role in oiling difficult social relations. If nothing else, the reports give the anthropologist a sense of having accomplished something. Especially in the earlier stages of fieldwork, many first-time anthropologists have a sense of floundering and of learning little. On the other hand, for anthropologists complacently gathering massive amounts of quantitative data, field reports can raise uncomfortable (but important) questions of "But what does it all mean to Group X?"
Post-fieldwork seminars and publications:
Another, often dreaded but useful, hurdle in doing fieldwork in Papua New Guinea is UPNG's requirement that affiliated researchers give post-fieldwork seminars before leaving the country. When I taught at UPNG, I was the research liaison, which included, among other things, assisting foreign researchers while they were in Port Moresby and helping them plan for their post-fieldwork talk. The latter involved a certain amount of hand-holding and assurance that nobody expected them to have a final interpretation on their fieldwork and that the afternoon seminar was not an occasion for slaughtering young (and not so young) anthropologists. When I gave my seminar in May of 1983, I was of course very nervous and very serious, trying to cover everything in forty-five minutes. During the question-and-answer period, everyone surprised me by showing the most interest in gambling and my interpretation. That interest encouraged me to write a paper on gambling for Oceania, the oldest and most prestigious of the journals focusing on Pacific ethnography (Zimmer 1986). Like every other researcher, before I left Papua New Guinea, I also had to write up my seminar talk. This paper (Zimmer 1983) was accepted for publication in Research in Melanesia, the Anthropology and Sociology Department's publication which publishes information on research requirements, anthropologists currently in the field, along with some field reports and other articles on work done in Papua New Guinea.
Copyright © 1996 by Laura Tamakoshi and Brian Cross