Academic journal article Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research

The Content and Foundations of Olympic Studies: Subject Profile Analysis of a Decade of Olympika

Academic journal article Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research

The Content and Foundations of Olympic Studies: Subject Profile Analysis of a Decade of Olympika

Article excerpt

Introduction

This study explores one aspect of the nature of Olympic Studies by examining the content of research articles published in the peer reviewed journal Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies, published by the International Centre for Olympic Studies (ICOS) and classifying them by subject, using an accepted bibliographic technique. The analysis covers 48 articles in nine issues from 1997 (vol. VI), to the 2006 issue (vol. XIV). It represents a decade of scholarship encompassing two Olympiads and three Winter Olympic Games. During this time the articles were on average written by 1.4 authors each, and averaged over 21 pages.

Such studies of writings in a field are useful tools as journal articles establish the current state of the art in the field of study. (1) As noted by Hyland:

   These texts are the lifeblood of the academy as it is through the
   public discourses of their members that disciplines authenticate
   knowledge, establish their hierarchies and reward systems and
   maintain their cultural authority ... [W]riting is not just another
   aspect of what goes on in the disciplines, it is seen as producing
   them. (2)

While Olympika is a leading journal in the field of Olympic studies, it is recognized that there can be no definitively representative publication for any substantial field of study. Olympic Games scholarship appears in a range of other journals that embrace disciplines including: recreation, management, medicine, media studies, law, etc. The editorial policy of Olympika states that the editors: "invite scholarly papers, research notes, review articles, and other items relating to the historical, sociological, philosophical, and anthropological dimensions of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement." (3) This indicates the intent of the journal to investigate broader subject coverage than other journals dedicated to Olympic Studies, such as the Journal of Olympic History.

In terms of scholarly independence, Olympika has no affiliation to the International Olympic Committee, unlike journals such as Message Olympique and Olympic Review. As a result, there are no obvious restrictions on the publication of articles that deal with controversial issues, including those that may depict the Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Olympic Committees (NOCs), and other individuals and organisations in a less than favourable light. Also, Olympika does have an international flavour. Despite the fact that most Olympika articles are published in English, this is not exclusively so. Between 1997 and 2006 one article written in Spanish (4) and one in French (5) appeared. However, the fact that it is predominantly English does limit the nature of its total contribution to Olympic scholarship.

As a dedicated journal on the Olympic movement, with a high degree of academic freedom, Olympika provides a useful source from which to help identify the Olympic Studies field of study and to identify which disciplines form its base. Therefore, the following research questions guided this research.

Research Questions

As represented by the content of the scholarly journal Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies:

* What does the field of study of Olympic Studies comprise?

* What are the foundation disciplines of Olympic Studies?

Method

In order to answer these questions, a number of bibliographic techniques can be employed to identify and classify the content of published academic work. Of these various methods, and in terms of Olympika, we used descriptor profile analysis, a form of subject profile analysis to analyse and represent the scholarly output of this journal. As noted by Marion and McCain: "Examination of classification terms, such as headings or descriptors, is an established method for structural analysis of a knowledge domain. …

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