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For this assignment write a letter to a non-governmental organization (NGO). You are seeking the assistance of the NGO in addressing the health issue that you identified in the country/community selected.  You are not required to choose an actual NGO.  You will be using the NGO information we provide rather than researching an actual NGO. 


1. Create a business letter to an NGO that is active in the country/community selected. The business letter is to be constructed in a 
block format
. See the 
 site for assistance. 

2. Address the letter to the individual and organization listed in the information section below.   Keep in mind that your reader has a doctoral degree in business and a graduate degree in public health.

3. In this letter you will:

            3.1       Introduce yourself.

3.2       Introduce/explain the identified health issue. Explain your reason for writing that will include your concern about the health issue that you have identified.

3.3       State your recommendation(s) for how to address the identified health issue.

3.4       Acknowledge your awareness of past/current funding (see the information section below).

3.5       Request specific support and/or sponsorship to address the identified health issue. Clearly state your request and how the funds will be used.

3.6       Be persuasive in your explanation of why the support is needed, how the NGO’s mission is connected to described project, and how the NGO’s financial assistance will support the plan designed to address the health issue.

3.6       Close with a strong summary paragraph.

4. Mechanics

4.1       Remember that all references must follow APA Manual 7th edition format.

4.2       The body of the letter is to be 400 to 500 words (approximately two pages). Just the body

4.3       Business letters infrequently contain citations for supporting references.  This one will.  Cite at least two (2) articles and use at least one source that is not course material.

 4.4       Make sure that you proof the letter to ensure that it meets the assignment guidelines.

NGO Information to Use in Letter

1.         Name and address of the NGO is:

Creating Space for Life
Mary Phillips, Executive Director
5555 Fifty-first Street
Plain City, NJ  01012

2.         Mission of the NGO is:  Reaching the poorest of the poor in developing countries to educate, heal, and empower.

3.         The NGO has funded projects in the chosen country previously but not within the past three years.  The last funded project was for a chronic disease prevention project and was funded at the $250,000 level.

4.         Not much information is available for the members of the governing board.  It is known that the executive director ran a large hospital system before joining the NGO.  She has a PhD in business and a master’s in public health (MPH).

Rubric #3, Business Letter to NGO (M3-A1)

Remember to use the criteria in each column to assist you in meeting the criteria for the assignment.

20 points

Accomplished Proficient Needs Improvement Unacceptable


5 points maximum

*Letter well
*Clear introduction
*Clear purpose
body and conclusion

Missing one of the
four (4) elements

*Missing two (2)
*Lacks a cohesive

*Missing three (3) or
more elements
*No clear argument


8 points maximum

*Easily read coverage
of all major points
* Purpose is clearly
stated, attainable,
and fundable
*References are
appropriate &
suitably placed

*Coverage of most of
the major points
*Purpose is vague
but has potential to
be attainable and
*References are
appropriate; one is
suitably placed

*Missing two (2) or
more of important
*Purpose not clear &
no indications of how
would be attained or
*References present

*Missing three (3) or
more of important
*Totally misses the
point of this
*References missing

3 points maximum

*No more than two
(2) MUGS errors

*Three (3) to five (5)
MUGS errors

Six (6) to eight (8)
MUGS errors

More than eight (8)
MUGS errors


4 points maximum

*No errors in suitable
tone and language
for the format
*Use of culturally
unambiguous and
unlikely to be

*One (1) or two (2)
errors in use of tone
and language
*No use of
appropriate cultural
reference when
*Mostly clear & likely
to be understood

*Tone and language
are not inappropriate
BUT one or the other
or both are too
*Appropriate cultural
reference is not used
(if needed)
*Not very clear and is
easily misunderstood

*Tone and language
are inappropriate
*No evidence of
misinterpreted or

Interpretation of Final points Accomplished: 20.00 – 18.01
Proficient: 18.00 – 16.01
Needs Work: 16.00 – 14.01
Unacceptable: Less than 14 points


Healthcare Research and
Academic Writing (Part 2):
Finding and Using Sources

his chapter focuses on the strategies involved in gathering and integrating infor-
mation in order to write the sort of research-oriented academic documents
explored in chapter 7. The wider-ranging preliminary investigation into a subject

that occurs during the prewriting stage and helps you to narrow down from that subject
to a topic, then from topic to thesis (or statement of purpose) gives way as the drafting
stage progresses to a more concentrated and detailed engagement with source mate-
rials, one that both shapes and is shaped by the developing focus and direction of
your essay or report. Over the course of the research process, student writers may find
themselves having to seek out answers to many important questions. Where do I look
for sources, and how do I search for them effectively? How do I know if the sources I
find are useful (or scholarly)? How do I get the information I want to use out of those
sources and into my essay or report? What is appropriate documentation, and how
(or why) am I supposed to do it? The goal of this chapter is to offer something by way
of an answer to most, if not all of these.


Among the first things to consider as you undertake research for a particular assign-
ment is what type of sources you are required to use. Is there an assigned limit with
respect to number or type? If not, how many should you be aiming to employ in your
paper and of what sort? First, consider the important contextual details of purpose and
audience. Since you are writing something either to persuade a well-educated, expert
reader (i.e., your instructor) or to inform that reader about your topic, the sources you
marshal to the task of helping you address your audience most effectively need to be
relevant, authoritative, and scholarly. A scholarly source refers to any research-based
book, journal article, or essay written by someone with academic qualifications and
affiliation, published by a reputable or university-associated press or in an academic
journal, and searchable by way of your university or college library’s system of databases.
Journal articles tend to take slight precedence over books with respect to perceived
importance and quality, primarily due to the fact that journal articles represent the
most current published research in a field, and currency is an especially desirable char-
acteristic for a source in the health sciences (and the sciences generally).

Part III: Fundamentals of Successful Healthcare Writing174

Scholarly sources can be categorized as either primar y or secondar y. A
primary source is a first-hand account of something: an experiment, a course of
research, an ongoing study. Lab reports and research articles constitute primary sources,
as do dissertations and conference papers, published or otherwise. A secondary source
consists of anything that draws upon, analyzes, and interprets primary material but
doesn’t write up research of its own. Literature reviews, critical analysis essays, refer-
ence works (e.g., dictionaries and encyclopedias), and textbooks like this one are
examples. One possible strategy for moving from a general subject to a more specific
topic during the prewriting stage is to focus initially on secondary sources only, seek-
ing out things like review articles, which summarize the prevailing thinking on and
discussion of a subject and therefore allow you to find out about some of the topics
scholars have addressed. Once you have settled on one or two such possible topics for
your own paper, shift your focus to primary sources that document research on those
topics, and see what’s out there that engages and interests you the most (Hofmann,
2013). Note that the essay or report that you end up producing (by way of this method
or any other) will most likely draw upon and cite both primary and secondary sources.
However, some instructors may limit you to using one type or the other in a given
assignment, most often primary.

Sometimes, assignment instructions might specify that you are to use only
peer-reviewed sources in your paper. And indeed, being peer-reviewed is an important
characteristic of the best, often most authoritative scholarly writing. As the condition
of its publication, a peer-reviewed source has been rigorously vetted for quality by a
group of experts in the subject area. It has been deemed credible and authoritative
enough to make a contribution to the ongoing scholarly conversation and (potentially)
to be used by other researchers as a source in the future. The peer-review process is a
standard part of academic publishing, and it is a way of signalling to other academic
readers that a book or essay or journal article has sufficient scholarly merit. Note that
most databases now allow you to focus your search on peer-reviewed sources only.
And if you are in doubt as to whether or not a book or a journal is peer-reviewed, read
its publication details or a description of its editorial practice, either by following the
link to that book or journal in your library’s catalogue (as in the screenshot below), or
by going directly to the publisher’s website.

Searching in Databases

In terms of seeking out scholarly source material, the best places to go are the discipline-
specific subscription databases available through your university or college library. For

Screenshot: Publication
details for Journal of
Nursing Management
(Academic Search
Complete, Western

Chapter 8: Healthcare Research and Academic Writing (Part 2) 175

healthcare-related disciplines, some of the notable ones are AMED, CINAHL, Medline,
ProQuest Nursing and Allied Health Source, PsycINFO, PubMed, and SCOPUS. A
more widely available, general scholarly search tool such as Google Scholar is also a
fi ne place to start, as is Academic Search Complete. Even a non–healthcare specifi c
database like the MLA International Bibliography might prove useful, for some topics
related to narrative medicine and healthcare communication in particular. Regardless
of where you start or what search tools you employ, to fi nd sources eff ectively you need
to be able to recast your topic as a set of searchable terms that you can then alter and
adjust as need arises—need usually being determined by the number and quality (or
lack thereof ) of the sources your search yields.

As an example, let’s imagine that you are asked to write a report on living with
Parkinson’s disease. You decide in trying to narrow down to a possible topic that you
want to look at some of the treatment options available to Parkinson’s patients, then
go from there. What are the main concepts that inform your topic? How might those
become workable search terms?

Look for nouns and noun phrases, and ignore function words (prepositions and
conjunctions) and even verbs:

Treatment options for Parkinson’s patients. [Main concepts = Treatment options,

Parkinson’s (since “patients” seems redundant, considering the focus on treatment,

something that is necessarily patient-oriented)]

One strategy is to search each concept separately, then combine the searches. Here,
however, since “treatment options” is imprecise and applicable to any sort of disease
or ailment, you can anticipate getting an unmanageable number of sources, and that
is an unproductive and discouraging way to start. Th us, search both of these terms
together, using “AND” to link them. Note that you will have to put “treatment options”
in quotation marks to ensure it gets searched as a phrase. Using the database PubMed
to start, the combination of “treatment options” and “Parkinson’s” gets you 284 sources.

Th is is a fairly unmanageable number of sources to skim through, even just by look-
ing at titles and reading abstracts where necessary. You might notice some common
terms recurring in the titles and descriptions of the sources you turn up, and those can
help you narrow your focus a little more, hopefully leading to at least slightly fewer
results. One of the recurrent terms in this search pertaining to Parkinson’s treatment
options is “brain stimulation.” What happens when that gets turned into a concept
added to our search string?

Part III: Fundamentals of Successful Healthcare Writing176

All of a sudden, you have reduced the number of sources considerably (from 284 to
40). Th ere is no reason that you can’t look at all 40 here in some detail before making
a decision about whether or not you will have enough useful research to proceed with
this particular topic, or whether you will have to alter your search again to broaden it a
bit, perhaps generalizing the specifi c surgical intervention “brain stimulation” into the
more inclusive category “brain surgery,” or perhaps adding a synonym: “Parkinson’s OR
‘movement disorders.’” Going the other way, if you want to focus things even more, you
could make the third term “deep brain stimulation,” and/or you could apply some limits
on source date and type (e.g., only within the last fi ve years, only peer-reviewed articles).


Regarding the amount of source material you end up employing in the course of putting
together your essay or report, it matters much less than how useful and credible that
source material is. And it is, in fact, possible to employ too many sources in a paper,
especially when it is short. You defi nitely need to produce a document that comes
across as very well informed and that looks like it is conforming to the basic expec-
tations of scholarly writing—namely, that it will incorporate and appropriately cite
published research. Th at said, you do not want to hand in something that reads wholly
like a pastiche of other people’s words and ideas, with little or no evidence of any

Strategies for Skimming Journal Articles

In order to fi nd and gather information as effi –
ciently as you can during the course of your
research, you need to be able to assess quickly
and accurately which sources are going to warrant
closer attention. To do that, you have to know what
information to look for in a journal article and
where to fi nd it. Since the abstract provides a brief

summary of the article’s contents, start there, then
skip down to the very end and see what the discus-
sion and/or conclusion section says regarding key
fi ndings and their signifi cance. If the article seems
like it might be helpful to you, then go back and
start at the beginning, reading the introduction
and seizing on the research questions or hypoth-
esis that defi nes the purpose of the study before
making your fi nal decision as to usefulness.

Chapter 8: Healthcare Research and Academic Writing (Part 2) 177

distillation, framing, or analysis of those words/ideas on your part. Thinking gener-
ally about differences between exposition and argument, per our discussion of those
modes in the previous chapter, a report—being a more information-based type of writ-
ing and one less outwardly indicative of your own ideas or opinions—may be likely to
have a higher number and concentration of source citations than an essay. But that
is certainly not always going to be the case. In the end, there is no particular amount
of source material to have in mind when you are getting your research together. You
need as many sources as you need to do whatever it is your essay or report is trying to
do, however unhelpful that may sound. Quality always takes precedence over quantity.

But how do you assess the quality of a source? While not all peer-reviewed sources
are going to be equally useful to you, in terms of overall authority and trustworthiness,
there is usually little to question about a scholarly book or article. The problem tends to
be with non-scholarly sources, particularly those you find online. And note that when
we say online, we are referring to the “open” internet accessible to anyone, not to the
“closed,” subscription-only databases that students are able to access through their
campus libraries. It is a retrograde approach to think that student writers in particular
will limit their research to academic databases alone or that only scholarly sources can
be of use in academic writing. Though scholarly books and articles should certainly
comprise the majority of the material upon which you draw in essays and reports,
some well-chosen non-scholarly sources—newspaper or magazine articles, websites,
blogs, wikis, social media postings—can have much to offer by way of usefully supple-
menting your research material. Go back to the sample scholarly essay in chapter 7,
and look at the way some of the ongoing conversation about healthcare wait times in
Canadian media sources (e.g., the National Post and CBC News) is used to frame the
argument regarding the benefits of adopting a two-tier system. Particularly if your
topic is a timely, relevant one that has been subject to discussion in the media, some-
times the most up-to-date information you can get will come from online sources.

Be sure, however, to think very critically about whether or not such sources have
intrinsic value that recommends their inclusion in your paper—whether or not they
seem to offer you something useful that your scholarly sources don’t. If an online
source doesn’t provide anything new or salient with respect to information or offer an
approach that might enhance your discussion, then you should not bother with it. But
if and when you do consider using a source you find via Google (or Bing or another
search engine), there are several questions you then need to pose in order to evalu-
ate its potential merit:

¦ Who or what is responsible for or behind the source? Is the site sponsored by
an organization? Is it affiliated with an institution? If there is any corporate
or institutional affiliation, what can you find out about the sponsor? Might
there be some sort of political or professional bias inflecting the information
or skewing its presentation? Are you being “sold” something, literally or
figuratively? Is the site trying to get you to act or to buy something by relying
heavily on appeals to pathos, perhaps presenting an especially rosy or
particularly dire picture of things? Assuming there is a lack of objectivity as
a function of the site’s personal, political, or professional investment in a

Part III: Fundamentals of Successful Healthcare Writing178

topic, does that pose a problem? Remember that much of your ethos as an
academic writer derives from the quality and authority of your sources, and in
academic writing authority and objectivity are very closely related.

¦ Who is the author? Is there one? What are his or her credentials? What is his
or her ethos? Figuring out who wrote a scholarly book or article is never an
issue, but figuring out the same with respect to an internet source can often
be quite difficult. Not having an identified author isn’t necessarily a deal
breaker, but you need to think very carefully about the source’s credibility on
other grounds.

¦ What is the nature and quality of the information presented? Are citations
provided? Frequently, they won’t be, which can make accuracy difficult to
discern. Importantly, though, does the information have intrinsic merit?
Does it present information not available elsewhere and/or does it present
that information in a way that other (scholarly) sources can’t or don’t? Is it
multimedia dependent, for example? That’s one of the important, potentially
productive ways an online source might differ from a print source. The other,
as we have noted, is in terms of currency. Is the source more up-to-date than
anything else you’ve come across? Remember that the very thing that can
make the information in an online source so useful—its potential timeliness—
also speaks to one of the most problematic things about online sources in
terms of authority, namely that they are inherently unstable and prone to
alteration in ways that print sources are not.

One other thing to note: before evaluating any online source, try to parse the URL back
to the homepage first, in the same way you would want to assess a book in its entirety
by starting back at the beginning—with the author note, blurb, table of contents, intro-
duction—not just picking it up in medias res (in the middle of things). You need to get
the full picture of any source at issue in order to assess it fairly and in a fully informed


What does it mean to plagiarize, and why is it so important to understand what is at
stake in plagiarism, with a view to avoiding it at all costs in your academic writing?
Plagiarism is academic dishonesty that entails taking credit for someone else’s intel-
lectual property, whether intentionally or not. Determining just what constitutes
the intellectual property of another, however, can sometimes be tricky. The useful
definition of plagiarism provided by the American Psychological Association (APA)
publication manual—perhaps the most authoritative source on correct procedures for
academic writing, particularly for those in healthcare fields—acknowledges the occa-
sionally murky nature of intellectual property ownership in a passage that cautions
against presenting

Chapter 8: Healthcare Research and Academic Writing (Part 2) 179

the work of another as if it were [your] own work. This can extend to ideas as well
as written words. If authors model a study after one done by someone else, the
originating author should be given credit. If the rationale for a study was suggested
in the Discussion section of someone else’s article, the person should be given
credit. Given the free exchange of ideas, which is very important to the health of
intellectual discourse, authors may not know where an idea for a study originated.
If authors do know, however, they should acknowledge the source; this includes
personal communications. (2010, p. 16)

Essentially, the intellectual property of others encompasses any words, ideas, and even
inspiration you draw from things you have read (or people you have spoken to) in the
course of preparing to write a document. In order to avoid plagiarism, you are required
to acknowledge any and all of the sources you draw upon by citing your debt to them
appropriately within your essay or report, using a standard citation style (such as
APA), and also providing full bibliographic details in a list of references.

The practice of citing sources throughout your researched writing is referred to
as documentation. When in doubt as to whether or not you should cite a particu-
lar source, the very fact that you are at least thinking on some level that you need to
should be reason enough to cite it. Though overciting is possible (since sources of
material considered standard information within a particular field of study—major
historical facts such as dates, or facts readily available in a wide variety of reference
works—need not be acknowledged), it is by far the lesser of two evils when the other
option is unintentional plagiarism. So be vigilant about citing anything you think you
need to. Following good academic procedure is never wrong, nor is being a fair person
who gives credit where it is due.

Most colleges and universities use some sort of plagiarism-checking program, such
as Turnitin, and these have made the detection of problems with integrating and docu-
menting sources virtually effortless. In our experience, the majority of student writers
who have any sort of issue with source acknowledgement or incorporation do not know-
ingly take credit for someone else’s work with malicious intent. Instead, they usually
plagiarize unintentionally due to one (or both) of two possible issues: they lack sufficient
familiarity with their research material or knowledge of how to incorporate research
into their writing; they have been too careless in taking notes from their sources (by
failing, perhaps, to distinguish between direct quotations and their own paraphrase,
or by not copying down correct page numbers). Students can help to prevent careless-
ness that results from haste by planning ahead and giving themselves sufficient time
for the prewriting processes of rhetorical situation assessment and information gath-
ering. Problems that arise out of a lack of knowledge or of comfort with using sources,
however, can really only be addressed by learning the correct techniques for incorpo-
rating and acknowledging your research and by practising those techniques. To recall
the preamble to our overview of grammar, punctuation, and style in chapter 6, prac-
tice makes permanent when it comes to the fundamentals of clear, effective writing.
The same can be said for the basics of effective source citation and documentation.

Part III: Fundamentals of Successful Healthcare Writing180


Information drawn from research sources can be integrated into your essay or report
in only three ways. You can summarize it, paraphrase it, or quote it directly. In all
instances, the information being drawn from elsewhere must be documented via
in-text citation (and corresponding bibliographic entry). A summary distills key ideas
from a source and condenses material presented at much greater length in the origi-
nal into perhaps a paragraph or less in your paper, depending of course on the length
and complexity of the original material being summarized. In the previous chapter,
we discussed summary in a couple of different contexts: in an article review, as the
means of providing the necessary context for your critical analysis; and in the literature
review portion of a formal report, which offers an overview of the relevant contempo-
rary and historical research published on your topic. There are two other particular
academic writing contexts wherein effective summary is absolutely essential: abstracts
and annotated bibliographies.

Abstracts precede scholarly research articles in all disciplines, and they are a
standard component in most types of report. As we mentioned earlier in this chapter,
abstracts provide an important heuristic for readers, since they offer a brief but accu-
rate summary of an article or report’s contents in a single paragraph (approximately
300 words or fewer in the case of research articles, 150 or fewer for most lab reports).
One of the keys to writing an effective abstract is to save it for the very end, after your
article or report has been completed. That way, writing the abstract will truly be a
summative, backward-looking exercise. You will presumably have arrived at a better
sense of what it is you actually accomplish in your article or report and/or in the course
of the research it discusses. There is actually quite a lot riding on a being able to write
a clear, effective abstract, since readers will very often determine whether or not your
work is interesting or worth reading solely on the basis of the abstract.

In an annotated bibliography, full bibliographic information for sources is accom-
panied by brief descriptions (usually three to five sentences at most) that summarize
the content and offer some sort of evaluative commentary that speaks to the relevance
and overall quality of the source (including its potential limitations or shortcomings).
Here are a couple of examples of annotated bibliography entries for sources used in
the sample scholarly essay with which our previous chapter concludes.

Flood, C. M., & Haugan, A. (2010). Is Canada odd? A comparison of European
and Canadian approaches to choice and regulation of the public/private
divide in health care. Health Economics, Policy and Law, 5, 319–41. doi: 10.1017/

Flood and Haugan investigate the ongoing debate over allowing a privatized
healthcare option into the Canadian system by way of the famous Chaoulli case
from 2005, which asked if it was constitutional for the Quebec government to ban
private insurance for medically necessary care in the face of long wait times. Flood
and Haugan describe the shortcomings of and failures within this case, such as
what steps were neglected and what was overlooked. They utilize six major features

Chapter 8: Healthcare Research and Academic Writing (Part 2) 181

of Canadian healthcare legislation and use this information to draw comparisons
between five European countries. The Chaoulli case is a strong case study to utilize
within my research because it brought healthcare issues to the forefront of national
discussions and debates and highlighted the inefficiencies and inadequacies
within the Canadian healthcare system. Although this case took place in Quebec
under the Quebec Health Insurance Act, its information is still very applicable to
Canada as a whole. The comparative analysis between countries provides insight
on how Canada’s system can be improved and where shortcomings lie. Although
this comparison is generally useful, not all of the conclusions made by the authors
are applicable to the Canadian system due to cultural, structural, and political
differences between countries.

Johnson, A. P., & Stuart, H. (2009). Health services research in Canada. In R.
Mullner (Ed.), Encyclopedia of health services research. (pp. 559–65). Thousand
Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Johnson and Stuart begin their essay by providing a brief historical overview of
Canada’s healthcare system and its main goals and objectives, focusing on the
idea of health information as well as health service research within Canada. This
focus is important as it gives a substantial background as to why and how policies
and infrastructures have been implemented within Canada, and explores the
continuous developments research institutes and governments have been making
in order to stay informed and make decisions based on qualified and substantiated
research. This is a useful source because it provides an informative history of
the Canadian healthcare system. It also describes how and why research is so
important and the effects it has on policy makers, which in turn influences how
health care is provided to citizens. While this article does not specifically focus on
the two-tiered healthcare mod