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Traditions-OK
Number 26 - December 2009

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Group Co-ordinator and Bulletin Editor:
Kenneth Ruddle, Asahigaoka-cho 7-22-511, Ashiya-shi, Hyogo-ken, Japan 659-0012.

Production:
Information Section, Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division, SPC, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia

Produced with financial assistance from Australia, France and New Zealand.


Note from the editor

In this issue we have two articles. In the first, Rintaro Ono and David J. Addison examine the fishing lore of Tokelau, focusing on fishing practices, technologies and materials, and their relationship to fish ecology. They examine Tokelauan classification of the marine ecosystem and the ethnoecology of fish and molluscs, particularly the taxonomy and ecological knowledge related to the behaviour of fish and other marine life.

In the second, Sarah Brikke briefly examines the perception of sea turtles by French Polynesians, and in particular, the perceptions of children. This reminded me of a delightful afternoon session during a coral reef conference held in the Maldives, in March 1996. Local school pupils made a series of sophisticated presentations about what was happening to “our reefs”. Those youngsters were so refreshing that I thought such a session should be included in all technical conferences. For sure, much more research needs doing on the perceptions of young people regarding environmental and resources issues. After all, “One day all this will be yours” (and the best of luck in trying to fix all your predecessors’ messes). So it would be good to have follow-up articles from our readers on the children’s art Ms Brikke examines.

Such diversity seems essential in helping us both understand and overcome the complex issues facing us now. Everybody should be encouraged to speak up. Although much of that participation is happening via the new information technology systems, there is still room for print media. But people are often quite shy about contributing “hardcopy”; “Oh, I can’t write an article, I’ve never written one, What should I do? Please help.” So, in that spirit I have abstracted below what I regard as the main points from a useful short article that appeared in 2008 in the American Anthropologist. It could help you overcome your reticence and encourage you to submit something to me when you reconfirm that many “real academics” can also be “real goof balls”.

Astounded by the number of authors submitting poor quality manuscripts, Tom Boellstorff, Editor-in-Chief of the American Anthropologist, wrote “How to get an article accepted at American Anthropologist (or anywhere)” (American Anthropologist 110(3):281–283, September 2008). Boellstorff gave five simple tips that he assured readers would greatly increase their chance of a favourable decision at any journal. They are as follows.

1. Be professional!: Never forget to “accept all changes in document” after using the “track changes” function of Microsoft Word. A surprising number of authors do; “As a result, deleted text, comments from preliminary readers, and so forth are all interspersed with the main text in a bewildering range of colors. In addition, many manuscripts are submitted ... with a shocking number of typographical and grammatical errors” (Boellstorff 2008:281). That’s guaranteed to annoy even the mildest mannered editor!

2. Make sure data and assertions/claims are related: One of the most common problems in manuscripts submitted is the relationship between the argument and supporting data; “Often a manuscript will be concerned with Topic A, but the data presented speak to Topic B” (Boellstorff 2008:281–282). That is just silly. No reader will understand how an author reached her or his conclusions if the wrong data are provided!

3. Don’t over-generalize: Commonly, a manuscript either begins with or is built around sweeping claims unsupported by evidence that: could not be provided, because, say, we cannot prove that “humans throughout history have sought to create forms of community based on their spiritual beliefs”. Such sweeping generalizations invite nitpickers and quibblers and do not really serve the argument at hand. Of course, it is fine to speculate about broader implications, but this must be done in a way that builds from the data at hand and properly hedges its claims as it moves outward from that data.” (Boellstorff 2008:282)

4. Use references and citations effectively: One of the commonest faults is that many authors seem to be unaware of other people’s work. This can be inferred because they fail to cite the work of others. However, some authors clearly avoid citing others’ work in an attempt to appear creative. And yet others will inflate the number of works cited — but not actually referred to — in an attempt to demonstrate their own “scholarship”. Don’t be tempted; these ruses are transparent to experienced editors and readers!

5. Use an effective manuscript structure: If your manuscript is structurally unsound, your argument will be unclear. Boellstorff (2008:282) noted three main structural faults. The first is that manuscripts often lack a “Conclusion” or have a disproportionately brief one that is insufficient for tying a text together and summarizing the main argument. The second is that manuscripts often contain unbalanced sections, one of which might account for more than half the total length of the manuscript. Balanced subsections are generally best for making an effective argument. The third is that the assertions or claims set out in an “Introduction” often are not those discussed in the body of a text! Consistency is needed throughout an entire manuscript. Text, Introduction and Conclusion need to be carefully cross-checked to verify this before sending a manuscript to an editor.

Finally, please do not forget to download the “SPC Special Interest Group newsletters and bulletins instructions to authors” (http://www.spc.int/coastfish/News/SIG-instructions.pdf) and send us your manuscripts formatted accordingly. Please pay particular attention to the style of the references. More than anything else, failure in the last item is what drives your otherwise benign Editor and Fisheries Information Officer up the wall, round the bend, and into the nearest bar and grill. (Needless to say, we quite enjoy these antics when the reason is good.)

Kenneth Ruddle


Contents

Ethnoecology and Tokelauan fishing lore from Atafu Atoll, Tokelau
Ono R., Addison D.J. (pdf: 442 KB)
Local perceptions of sea turtles on Bora Bora and Maupiti islands, French Polynesia
Brikke S (pdf: 401 KB)
 

Download the complete publication:

Traditional #26 (pdf: )



 
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