Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Writing: The Quarterly as Text

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Writing: The Quarterly as Text

Article excerpt

The purpose of this essay is to examine how writing has shaped the nature of the Quarterly over 75 years. Here I explore how stylistic elements have changed over time, how form has interacted with function and content, and how well the resulting text has served the several communities within physical education. I make the following assertions. First, the writing style that has become the model for research reports is needlessly dense and daunting for readers. Second, the desire to maintain a journal that serves both as an interdisciplinary resource for a broad audience of physical educators and as an outlet for reports directed to limited audiences of technical specialists has prevented full performance of either function. Those concerns notwithstanding, I find good cause for celebration--as well as for guarded optimism about the future.

Key words: physical education research, research and practice, research journals, research reports


The Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (RQES) was launched as The Research Quarterly in March 1930. That venerable publication, however, is not alone in having now reached the landmark of a 75th birthday. I, too, was launched in the eventful spring of 1930, with the Quarterly my senior by a scant 45 days. This otherwise trivial parallel in dates of origin is noted because questions about my credentials for expounding on 75 years' worth of writing in the Quarterly will be inevitable, and I wish to establish (at least) that I was around from the very beginning.

In its maiden issue, the brisk opening sentence of the Quarterly's first research report left no doubt about either the nature of the journal or the sort of writing subscribers might expect: "The observations that are herein recorded were made on two non-athletic men, one of them of middle age and the other in the early twenties" (Schneider, 1930). (1) In contrast, my mother's diary offers no testimony of equally prophetic weight, recording only that I entered the world "with a healthy squall of objection!" The ambiguity of my opening announcement notwithstanding, it required surprisingly little time for my path to intersect with that of The Research Quarterly.

The place and time are indelibly stamped in memory. It was in the basement stacks of Springfield College's Marsh Memorial Library on a fall evening in 1949. As a way of avoiding any attempt at doing actual "studying" (which I had not the slightest idea how to perform), I was amusing myself by trying to find something the instructor of a sophomore year class had claimed to have published in the Quarterly. The idea that one of my own teachers had authored anything printed in a book or magazine was the first truly interesting thing to relieve the excruciating boredom of that 45-minute trial-by-ennui called "Tests and Measurements in Physical Education."

The first surprise was that you can find such things in a library just by going to the right shelf, inspecting the dates printed on the covers (the niceties of volume and issue numbers were to be discovered much later, as was the distinction between magazines and journals), reading the table of contents that was handily located at the front (I was looking for something about teaching the kip, or upstart, on the high bar, a rudimentary skill I had utterly failed to master in gymnastics class), and turning to the indicated page. The second surprise was that there, on page 62, in bold print, was my teacher's name, just as he had claimed: "The Progressive-Part vs. the Whole Method of Learning Motor Skills, By Clayton T. Shay, Graduate Scholar, School of Education, Syracuse University" (Shay, 1934). (2)

The significance of the moment was not lost on me. I had just learned how to find things in the library; I had discovered that the teacher of my "Tests and Measurements" class was a famous person; (3) I was about to get into real science (as this was The Research Quarterly, that made it official), and here were six pages of print about something that really mattered. …

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