Author Archives: Amber Dilabbio

When English is not your first language

Written by guest blogger Jessica Mayra Ferreira.

For those whose English is not their first language, it might be a challenge to submit a manuscript and not receive the comment “needs to be reviewed by a native English speaker”. I have always considered myself as a fast learner when it comes to new languages and it wasn’t such a struggle for me to learn how to communicate in English. However, when I decided I wanted to work as a researcher starting by my Master’s degree in Brazil, I had no idea that writing well enough for scientific literature would be such a demanding task. I received the same comment above in most my manuscripts reviews, even though some of those manuscripts were previously reviewed by a native English speaker, which made the work frustrating and stressful at times.

Following, I will present five tips that I have gathered throughout my academic work and hopefully will help not only Brazilians but also other researchers worldwide to write well in their future works.

  1. Do not start a sentence with numbers. For example:

    “1156 women were included in the study.”

    Instead, use:

    “A total of 1156 women were included in the study.”

  2. Avoid begging sentences with “the” – include it only when referring to something specific.

    “The computers are of enormous assistance in the scientific world.”

    Instead, write:

    “Computers are of enormous assistance in the scientific world.” (In this case, we are talking about computers in general, not specific ones.)

    “The research found that…” (In this case we are talking about a specific research and “the” is acceptable in the sentence.)

  3. Passive voice is well accepted and even encouraged in scientific literature:

    “The government has given little attention to the environment.”

    Instead, use:

    Little attention has been given to the environment by the government.”

  4. Do not use contractions such as “don’t” “aren’t”, “isn’t”, etc.:

    “Pregnant women shouldn’t smoke.”

    Instead, use:

    “Pregnant women should not smoke.”

  5. Avoid writing long sentences and try to simplify as much as possible. Instead of using “in order to”, use only “to”.

I believe an extra tip would be to practice a lot! The key to do anything perfectly, or as near to perfection as possible, is to practice. Try to read English articles as much as you can and pay attention to the way it was written. Make notes on what you think it is helpful and apply them in the next manuscript you will write. Trustingly, you will receive less comments that your work “needs to be reviewed by a native English speaker”.

Photo of author

Jessica Mayra Ferreira is a Physiotherapist graduated in 2009 at Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil, she specialized in Women’s Health, with emphasis in Human Reproduction and Human Sexual Health, she did her Masters and PhD in Health Science at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. She was a visiting PhD student at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2017 under the supervision of Dr. Lori Brotto. Her latest article in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, “Analysis of 16 years of calls and emails to the Options for Sexual Health ‘Sex Sense’ information and referral service,” is free to read for a limited time here.

Miner, Author, Singer, Lone-Actor Terrorist: The Lives and Death of Paul Joseph Chartier

Written by guest blogger Steve Hewitt

Paul Joseph Chartier led a colourful life as a miner, hotelier, private detective, author, and singer in pursuit of a recording career. He ended his life as a lone-actor terrorist. On 18 May 1966, Chartier expelled his last breath on a marble washroom floor outside of the House of Common’s in Ottawa after an explosive device packed with shrapnel he had constructed exploded prematurely before he could toss it into a chamber packed with politicians.

The how and why of Chartier’s ending is what led me to research and write my article that appeared in volume 100, number 1 of the Canadian Historical Review. Although the incident occurred more than a half century ago, it is more pertinent than ever given an increase in acts of extreme violence carried out by men acting on their own as part of a phenomenon known as lone-actor terrorism. The House of Commons’ was the site of one such incident in October 2014 when a gunman, proclaiming allegiance to Islamic State, killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a soldier on ceremonial duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. He then managed to enter the Centre Block on Parliament Hill with his rifle before he was shot and killed. The reaction struck me as ahistorical, something I wrote about at the time, with media coverage suggesting that Canada had encountered serious terrorism for the first time. Missing, of course, were famous events the Air India bombing of 1985 in which over 300 people, including 268 Canadians, were killed, and the October Crisis that involved the kidnapping and murder of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte. Less surprisingly absent from Canadian historical memory was Paul Joseph Chartier.

Chartier had a failed life and, fittingly, his failure extended into his effort to be a terrorist. In that sense, his story and trajectory resembles many of those who have received media attention in the present as a result of acts of extreme and deadly violence. There is a tendency in media, political, and event academic discourses to portray lone-actor terrorism as a modern phenomenon. This is inaccurate to say the least. Indeed, there is an opportunity for historians unburdened by the restrictions governing primary source material for more recent lone-actor terrorism to provide considerable insight into terrorism in general. The 1300-page police file at the heart of my research about Chartier was released almost with only a handful of redactions. Terrorism studies scholar Marc Sageman has pointed to history specifically as a discipline where innovative work is being done in a field dominated by social scientists.

Another key aspect and one that my future research will examine is the place of masculinity within lone-actor terrorism. As with mass shooters, lone-actor terrorism is almost exclusively carried out by men. In Canada, between 1868 and 2018, I have identified 19 lone-actor terrorist attacks, 18 of which were carried out by men of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and religious beliefs. The common thread across the attacks is the male identity of the perpetrators. And yet, gender is largely ignored in the various discourses around terrorism unless women are involved. This must change because, as demonstrated in recent attacks in Christchurch and San Diego, men carrying out acts of lone-actor terrorism shows no signs of abating.

Photo of Steve Hewitt

Steve Hewitt is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and the American and Canadian Studies Research Centre at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. He has written a number of articles and books related to security and intelligence in the past and present, and in a Canadian, British, and American context, including Spying 101: The RCMP’s Secret Activities at Canadian Universities, 1917-1997 (University of Toronto Press, 2002), The British War on Terror (Continuum, 2008) and, co-authored with Christabelle Sethna, Just Watch Us: RCMP Surveillance of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Cold War Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018). Currently, he is working on two related projects: a history of lone-actor terrorism in Canada and a history of terrorism and counter-terrorism in Canada. In particular, he is interested in the intersection of masculinities and extreme violence, particularly among lone-actor terrorists He also has had a lengthy involvement in Canadian studies in the United Kingdom, including as president of the British Association for Canadian Studies from 2011 to 2014. He tweets regularly at @stevehewittuk and on the history of terrorism at @TerrorisingHis1

His latest article in the Canadian Historical Review, ‘Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow’: Lone-Actor Terrorism, Masculinity, and the 1966 Bombing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa,” is free to read for a limited time here.

 

On Writing a Topical Piece for a Quarterly Journal



Written by guest blogger Stewart Manley

I encountered unique challenges when I wrote about an ongoing legal case, Federal Trade Commission v. OMICS et al., for the Journal of Scholarly Publishing. I anticipated that the quarterly publishing cycle of JSP meant that it would take longer to publish my work than at a news outlet or blog, but I initially overlooked the fact that the legal case could develop—perhaps suddenly and significantly—at any moment between the time of editing and publishing. There was a risk therefore that the piece, if accepted, would lag behind what was actually happening in the case and, even worse, omit crucial information that readers would have learned about from more timely media.


Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Location of the court that heard the FTC v. OMICS case.

At the same time, though, I did not want to wait until the case was over. It was unclear how much longer the proceedings would last. I could imagine a judgment still years away. Additionally, although the lawsuit had initially garnered interest in the press when it was filed in 2016, I had seen almost nothing after that, creating a gap that I thought my research could fill.

In their reply to my submission, the co-editors of JSP wisely expressed concern about how potential developments could impact my predictions on pending legal motions. They also suggested I consider not presenting the manuscript as part 1 of a series of progress reports, explaining that the article would appear in the April 2019 issue and no major edits could be made after early November. A lot can happen in a court case in five months. Their recommendation was to “time-proof” the article as much as possible so that it would remain relevant regardless of what might happen during the intervening months.

I removed the predictions, made it a stand-alone piece, and strengthened the sections that would not be affected by case developments. Every so often, I checked the online case records for updates. Between late July 2018 and early 2019, there was only a motion to delay the case, which was subsequently withdrawn. I was relieved in a way, hoping that nothing major would happen before the April publishing date. On 22 March, I submitted my formatting edits to the final proofs. The article was now ready for publishing.

Only seven days later, however, on 29 March, Judge Gloria Navarro of the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada, issued a final judgment in favour of the FTC, accepting the FTC’s factual allegations as uncontroverted and granting a summary judgment without a trial. The news made the New York Times and Science. I felt a surge of panic in my chest, worrying that this development would require extensive revisions to my piece. After reading the judgment, however, I realised that our “time-proofing” had made changes unnecessary. I quickly contacted Robert Brown, a JSP co-editor, who kindly agreed to include a brief update at the end of my article.

In retrospect, things could not have worked out better. The suggestion to remove my predictions helped me avoid prognosticating about things that would turn out to have been already decided. Even better, the article in its final form is more useful to future readers. And I am glad that I wrote about the case when I did because the April issue of JSP was published online just a couple weeks after the judgment, making the article more timely than I could have hoped for.

FTC v. OMICS may not be over. OMICS has said it will appeal the decision. Perhaps there will be a part 2 after all.


Seal of the Federal Trade Commission

Stewart Manley is a lecturer for the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya. He can be reached at stewart.manley@um.edu.my. His articles, personal essays, poetry, and photography can be found at www.stewartmanley.com. Read his latest article in Journal of Scholarly Publishing Predatory Journals on Trial: Allegations, Responses, and Lessons for Scholarly Publishing from FTC v. OMICS free for a limited time here.

Hollywood Comes to Canada: The Making of Captains of the Clouds

Written by guest blogger Dr. Jessica Leonora Whitehead

During the Oscars this year a new PSA aired from the Canadian Media Fund, launching the MADE Campaign, which celebrates the work of Canadians in the film industry from both home and abroad. Narrated by Christopher Plumber, scenes from Hollywood productions like Deadpool, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Spiderman are shown as Christopher Plumber tells the audience: “This is Canadian content and it’s time we take credit for it. Starting now.” While today Canada is labeled Hollywood North with Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and even the Northern Ontario cities of Sudbury and North Bay acting as regular shooting locations for American productions, this was not always the case. My article for the Canadian Journal of Film Studies explores the historical roots of Canada as a shooting location for Hollywood films by examining one of the first Hollywood features shot in Canada, the 1942 war epic Captains of the Clouds.



The concept for Captains of the Clouds was developed in conjunction with the Canadian government and Warner Brother Studios. In 1941, the United States had not yet entered the war, but many Americans were joining the Royal Canadian Air force (RCAF) thanks in part to Canadian lobbying groups like the Clayton Knight Committee, which encouraged Americans to join the war effort. The RCAF wanted to partner with Hollywood to showcase their air training plan and signed a contract with Warner Brothers on 28 January 1941 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which was also, probably not coincidentally, the headquarters of the Clayton Knight Committee. Shortly after the deal was signed, RCAF Lieutenant Owen Cathcart-Jones was sent to California to work as an advisor on the film about two Canadian bush pilots, who join the RCAF to support the war effort.

Much to the chagrin of Hollywood, one of the Canadian government’s only stipulations about the film, other than they agree to show the RCAF in a positive light, was that the film had to be shot in Canada. The government hoped that the film would give jobs to Canadians, but instead the entire cast and crew came to Canada from Hollywood, which the North Bay Nugget described as a “Cavalcade to Canada.”

A page from the North Bay Nugget about the production of the film dated 6 March 1941, 20

One of the largest roles to go to a Canadian was Brenda Marshall’s stand in who was an Ottawa woman by the name of Rita Cross and she received front-page coverage in Canadian newspapers. The focused coverage for a stand in role is in many ways the perfect metaphor for Canada’s relationship with Hollywood because despite decades of attempts Canada remains as a peripheral force in the film industry. In the case of Captains of the Clouds, Warner Brothers completely rewrote the script, the production crew fought the inclusion of Canadian workers on the set, and most of the Canadian actors that appeared in the film were stand-ins and extras.

Rita Cross on the cover of the North Bay Nugget dated 31 July 1941, 1.

The American producers left with a negative view of the country and wrote in one of their reports that the people of North Bay were thirty years behind in everything and that they would never want to leave their studio in Burbank again. It would not be until decades later that Canada was made into a regular shooting location for Hollywood, but the production of Captain of the Clouds highlights the historical roots for Canada as a shooting location for Hollywood films. Although today the MADE Campaign is trying to label Hollywood films shot in Canada as Canadian content my article demonstrates how Canada often has a stand in role when Hollywood comes to town.

Dr. Jessica Leonora Whitehead will be starting an Arts and Science Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto in July and holds a PhD from York University. Her dissertation, Cinema-Going on the Margins: The Mascioli Film Circuit of Northeastern Ontario was funded by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, and was nominated for both York University’s Dissertation Award and the Barbara Godard Dissertation Award. Her research is also supported by the Italian American Studies Association Memorial Fellowship, which she was awarded in 2018. She has published articles in the journals Transformative Works and Cultures, Italian Canadiana and chapters in the books Cinema Outside the City: Rural Cinema-going from a Global Perspective and Mapping Movie Magazines. In addition, she is the co-editor of an upcoming collection in the journal TMJ: Journal for Media History. Her research has also been featured on the CBC’s radio show Up North and in the Timmins Daily Press.

Read Dr. Whitehead’s latest article, “Hollywood Goes North: The Making of a ‘Canadian’ War Epic, Captains of the Clouds” free to read for a limited time here.

Survey Research, Public Opinion, and the Canadian Market Research Industry

Written by guest blogger Christopher Adams.
Ten years ago, I was asked to write a chapter titled “Public Opinion Polling in Canada” for Mediating Canadian Politics, a collection of essays co-edited by professors Shannon Sampert and Linda Trimble. The focus of the piece was on polling during Canadian election campaigns. The chapter commenced with a description of how the American pollster, George Gallup, opened up shop in Toronto in 1941. The discussion then proceeded to how polls have evolved as an important tool for understanding what Canadian are thinking, and are now heavily used by the media and party strategists.

Without being aware of this, I had set out on a much larger project: to write a history of public opinion research in Canada. The recently published article for the Journal of Canadian Studies, titled “Canada’s Early Developments in the Public Opinion Research Industry,” is part of this. Here I write about what could be described as the “pre-Gallup” days, about how the government, media, advertising agencies, and research firms became increasingly involved in using surveys to study Canadian attitudes, preferences, and behaviours in the early decades of the past century.

Canadians were surveyed in many ways during the past century. This included face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, and online surveys. There were also many ways by which completed questionnaires were processed, including the use of electronic tabulating machines and computer keypunching. Moreover, survey results were put to various uses, including providing media content, assessing the public’s mood on political issues, and developing brand strategies.

It is no secret that the research industry is undergoing transformational change. Before jumping into my current career as a senior administrator for a university college, I worked in the industry for close to 20 years. Up until the late 1990s, the standard approach to gauging the public’s mood was by doing a telephone survey. This would involve designing a questionnaire, and then relying on live interviewers to call randomly selected households during a series of evenings.

Things have changed, as made evident by how election polls are now done. Just recently, I have been working on a conference paper for the upcoming annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association (to be held in Vancouver in early June). As I write in this paper, many Canadians have become difficult to reach due to their increased reliance on mobile devices in place of landline telephones. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reports that from 2012 to 2016, landline telephone subscriptions in Canadian households declined from 83.8 percent to 66.8 percent, while subscriptions to mobile devices such as cellular telephones, increased from 81.3 percent to 87.9 percent of Canadian households (CRTC, 2018). To address this phenomenon, polling firms now obtain sample containing both mobile phones and landline phones. One CEO of a polling firm informed me that his firm seeks to have close to 50% of their sample containing mobile phone numbers while another firm has pre-established quotas for their studies that a minimum of 20 percent of their completed surveys are done through a mobile device.

To show how things have changed over the past 100 years, for my conference paper I have now reviewed a total of 43 polls that were released to the public in the final five days of all federal and provincial elections held from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2018. Only one of these polls was based wholly on live telephone interviews, while five included both live telephone interviews and online surveys. All of the other 37 polls were based on either online surveys or Interactive Voice Response (IVR) surveys (IVR surveys involve automated calling and interviews by which respondents use their telephone keys pads to respond to questions).

Research industry practices have come a long way over the past century, and the use of paper and pen surveys and telephone surveys using live interviewers now seem antiquated. Nevertheless, at the core of the industry there has been, and always will be, a need to ensure that survey questions are properly designed, and that samples are representative of the population under study. It is in the early era, i.e. the early 1900s and up to the early 1940s, as my piece for the Journal of Canadian Studies shows, that the survey research industry and its practitioners were developing the tools of their craft.

Christopher Adams holds a PhD in Political Science from Carleton University, and worked in the market research industry from 1995 to 2012. Since 2012, he has served as the chair of the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice and is rector of St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba. In 2018, he co-authored the MRIA-sponsored review regarding polling errors during the 2017 Calgary election (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-municipal-election-poll-mria-report-release-1.4776633). Dr. Adams is a writer and frequent commentator on issues relating to Canadian politics and polling and is currently writing a history of the polling industry in Canada.

His latest Journal of Canadian Studies article, “Canada’s Early Developments in the Public Opinion Research Industry” is temporarily free to read on UTP Journals Online.