Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The State of Leisure Research1

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The State of Leisure Research1

Article excerpt

As my term as editor comes to a close, I take this opportunity to reflect upon the state of leisure research, this journal and the problems and pressures peculiar to this area of investigation. I also would like to point out some of the conflicts among individuals and institutions engaged in leisure research.

As I expand on each of these points, I will be reflecting the biases of a sociologist from a traditional survey research background and from an academic setting that is housed in land grant colleges. However, my entire career has been devoted to leisure and recreation research and to the dissemination of my findings to other academics and practitioners in leisure organizations.

The Development of The Journal ofLeisure Research

During 1966 and 1967, a group of interested researchers from universities, the government and other professional organizations in Washington, D.C., conceived the idea and put together under the sponsorship of the National Recreation and Park Association the first volume of the Journal of Leisure Research. Early subscriptions were almost entirely supported as a portion of the membership package of NRPA. Manuscripts were solicited at the beginning, but were more likely to be submitted by the end of the first year. In 1970, the journal moved to Texas A&M University in the Department of Recreation and Parks, under the editorship of C. S. Van Doren. It remained there until 1971, when it came to the Department of Sociology at the University of Kentucky.

The average number of manuscripts submitted during the first three years was about 50 per year. That figure has now grown to an average of 120 per year and will probably increase. At the same time, the number of pages available to print these articles has remained the same. The circulation is now over 11,000 per issue with an increasing percentage of the subscriptions coming from individuals and organizations outside NRPA.

My Role and Philosophy Regarding the Development of The Journal of Leisure Research

My goal as editor was to develop the Journal of Leisure Research as the most authoritative and scholarly social science publication in the area of leisure and recreation. The improvement in quality was a result of more submitted papers and rising support within the academic community, coupled with the lack of competition and alternative outlets for articles on this topic. Being most familiar with sociology journals, and remembering that most past contributors to this publication were sociologists, I attempted to pattern the journal after the format of sociology journals. As models, I chose Rural Sociology and Social Forces. My initial thought was that everything published must be empirical and be based on adequately conceptualized hypotheses derived from a careful review of the literature. My hope was for accumulation. I had also wanted to avoid ponderous statistical presentations and narrow treatises which might interest only a small number of persons. In other words, I hoped to develop a general journal.

I also hoped to make the review process fair, in that we would not only tell an author what was wrong with the paper, but what could be done to improve it. In this way, we hoped to encourage and help young researchers and at the same time build a solid authence of contributors and reviewers. To help pursue these goals we have assembled a strong group of associate editors. These persons, who qualify due to a demonstrated capability as researchers, actually conduct the reviews and make detailed recommendations regarding the disposition of submitted papers.

In addition to the above procedural and policy goals, we have made many format changes and included new features with the hope of improving the readability of the periodical. I am particularly happy with the improved quality of the book review section, to whom the credit belongs entirely to Joe Hendricks.

Although my original orientation was empirical, I now see the need for more theoretical articles, particularly if they are short and suggest new research directions. …

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