Key Concepts in Sport and Exercise Research Methods

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Michael Atkinson

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  • SAGE Key Concepts

    Recent volumes include:

    Key Concepts in Sport Psychology

    John M D Kremer, Aidan Moran, Cathy Craig and Graham Walker

    Key Concepts in Sports Studies

    Stephen Wagg, Belinda Wheaton, Carlton Brick and Jayne Caudwell

    Key Concepts in Sport and Exercise Sciences

    David Kirk, Carlton Cooke, Anne Flintoff and Jim McKenna

    Key Concepts in Tourist Studies

    Melanie Smith, Nicola MacLeod and Margaret Hart Robertson

    Key Concepts in Leisure Studies

    David Harris

    Key Concepts in Public Health

    Frances Wilson and Andi Mabhala

    Key Concepts in Health Psychology

    Ian Albery and Marcus Munafo

    Key Concepts in Health Studies

    Chris Yuill, Iain Crinson and Eilidh Duncan

    The SAGE Key Concepts series provides students with accessible and authoritative knowledge of the essential topics in a variety of disciplines. Cross-referenced throughout, the format encourages critical evaluation through understanding. Written by experienced and respected academics, the books are indispensable study aids and guides to comprehension.

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    List of Figures and Tables

    Figures
    Tables
    • Table 1 Diet and bone mineral density 42
    • Table 2 Bone mineral density means and standard deviations 44

    About the Author

    Michael Atkinson is Associate Professor, Faculty of Physical Education and Health, University of Toronto. He was previously Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Loughborough University, leading the instruction of research methods and skills at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels therein. Michael received a PhD in Sociology from the University of Calgary in 2001 (BA, University of Waterloo, 1995; MA, McMaster University, 1997). Since then, he has researched and taught courses on the sociology of sport, bodies, deviance and research methods (qualitative, quantitative and historical) at Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada), McMaster University (Canada), and University of Western Ontario (Canada). For his contributions to the Canadian social sciences, Michael was the recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada's prestigious Aurora Award in 2004.

    Introduction: Using This Book

    With the mushrooming of undergraduate programmes in sport and exercise science, kinesiology, and physical activity and health, on both sides of the Atlantic, modules in research skills and methods have expanded and diversified considerably. In many universities, methodology courses at the undergraduate level cater to students with wide ranging sub-disciplinary interests such as psychology, physiology, sociology, biomechanics, pedagogy, health, economics, management and others. Within this context of diversity, one of the primary pedagogical hurdles to negotiate in an undergraduate methods module is finding a comprehensive and panoramic introductory reader within a literature that contains a relative dearth of accessible and down-to-earth options. What students and instructors are forced to do is read from several commonly used sport and exercise sciences methods textbooks (written from either a predominantly quantitative or qualitative slant), or employ methods books from other disciplines (biology or sociology, for example) that are simply not written for sport, exercise and health students. These books do not often articulate the significance and practice of core methodological concepts in straightforward and plain language.

    I feel that to engage students more directly with research skills, a book is needed that outlines many of the main concepts in research methods that all students in an undergraduate programme in sport, exercise, kinesiology or health should understand clearly. Each of the concepts presented in the book is, I hope, delivered to students in a way that diverges from standard ‘textbook definition’ modes of presentation. The concepts under examination in this book are presented using a form of narrative analysis which relays what the concepts mean in plain language, their significance in research, their bearing on how research is conducted, and how they are engaged in sport and exercise research. Entries revolve around a core methodological concept, practice or debate that students need to know before conducting research on their own subjects of interest, or for truly grasping research studies presented to them in other undergraduate modules.

    Given all of the above, I selected 40 core concepts in research methodology for inclusion. Not all aspects of the concept are tackled in each section (such would be impossible!). Though the tone and content of the entries varies in certain degrees depending on the concept under review, each of the entries is structurally formatted in a similar manner. Following a brief introduction to the concept at hand, we unpack the significance of the concept by discussing:

    • What is this concept? A definitional introduction to the concept is presented, but only in a quasi-standardised format. Included briefly in this section is a statement of when and why in the research process the concept is important.
    • Why is this relevant to me? In this section, the significance of the concept or practice will be reviewed.
    • Show me how it's used! In this section, some of the more technical aspects of the concept will be discussed, using sport and exercise to further illustrate the significance of the concept or practice. Particular emphasis is given to how the concept relates to the ways by which knowledge is framed and accumulated in research.
    • Problems, pitfalls and controversies. In the final section, a concluding set of remarks regarding the methodological problems or debates about the concept or practice is included in order to highlight how the practice of knowledge production in sport and exercise research is contested terrain.

    In the end, students are encouraged neither to memorise the contents of this book nor to receive it in an uncritical manner. This book is one that presents a series of arguments about many core concepts in methodology, but does not attempt to provide the definitive gospel about each concept. With this in mind, Key Concepts in Sport and Exercise Research Methods is offered as a tool to help students think like researchers, and, ultimately, to be knowledge-producers in their own right.

    MichaelAtkinsonFaculty of Physical Education and Health University of Toronto
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