Monday, April 1, 2013

The Scholarly Non Scholar?

My article is by Cate Watson, a professor at Stirling University who has published multiple scholarly articles in the past five years. The article was found through the search engine EBSCOhost off of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse website. The keywords used to find this article were “sports” and “broadcasting.” The biggest question presented after reading this article is how credible is this article/author? In this instance, it is difficult to define credibility because in one mindset the author’s education level and personal accolades speak for themselves. On the other hand, the author is using Wikipedia, single person sentence syntax, which aren’t typical in an academic article because professors generally frown upon these types of attributes in higher education writing. That is why devices used from the official style in Watson’s article also seem to participate in a role that attempts to mask the simplicity of the subject matter.
In Cate Watson’s article, the natural unnaturalness of real-time narrative: the complex case of the sporting radio broadcast, there is a lot to question as to whether the piece is scholarly or not. In this paper, scholarly work will be defined as a serious academic study that has been published in an academic journal. The article shows signs of the official style, but it seems to be used to hide a lack of credibility simultaneously.  The article uses jargon, complex sentences, advanced diction, and difficult readability. The title itself is confusing, and makes no sense because it uses a contradictory statement to show the complexity of the phenomena being presented. The readability of this is a 14.4 grade level on average, which is twice the national average of a seventh grade reading level. The only odd part about this piece is that it uses some of the
The article uses first person language right away in the abstract and uses it throughout the article. That was surprising because it takes away from the objectivity generally used in scholarly articles and brings a humanistic aspect not usually seen.  It’s not taking the impersonal approach usually presented in official style, but is very uncommon in a scholarly passage. Watson (2012) states “Nonetheless, in this article I argue for the utility of a conceptualization of narrative in precisely these terms. The purpose of this is not to essentialize these categories as either/ors within some dubious and unsustainable binary, but rather to exploit this uncertainty in order to produce a different reading, thereby enabling new insights to be generated”(p. 54). The quote starts with an infinitive phrase to modify the rest of the sentence then uses first person to transition into a form of official style by using complex diction to explain the purpose of the article in a long drawn out sentence. But why does Watson do this? To possibly mask the simplicity of a topic that could have been done in half the length of Watson’s article?
Watson also uses a jargon from previous research she has done known as TMS or Test Match Special a cricket program that broadcasts on BBC in the United Kingdom. Watson has written two other articles previously about the TMS program and also introduces how the game of cricket is played on a side bar of the page. There are some cricket terms used in the piece, so the audience targeted might be generally toward a population that knows the sport, is educated and has interest in the field of broadcast communication. For those who don’t know cricket and read the side bar realize that Watson references Wikipedia at the end of the first sidebar section. That’s not exactly the kind of reference someone would expect from a scholarly source. Why would a college professor reference Wikipedia, which is frowned upon in the academic world? The motives behind that come into question because Watson could have easily chosen a sport more universal such as soccer.
            The rest of the article provides unnecessary diction and references to essentially talk about how announcers use fictional forms of storytelling to relate to a wider audience. Watson uses complex diction and extended syntax to basically explain that announcers are using comparative language (metaphor, simile, personification, etc.) during their broadcast. That is the more natural portion of the narrative, but the unnatural side comes when the announcer has to ad-lib during real time situations. The article itself could be half as long as it actually is, but is almost forced to use repetition that is involved in the official style. Watson cited other scholarly sources to repeat similar results to confirm credibility. That is something done well, but the way it’s used after single person sentences rather than third person is different. It’s difficult to tell if Watson is trying to gain more personal credibility, and maybe uses first person to add to her name, but as was mentioned before professors of education don’t usually teach students to do that in research writing.
 In the end, I personally feel Watson uses the official style to show expertise, and to fit the criteria needed to be published in an academic journal. Credibility comes into question mostly because the devices generally look to lengthen a subject that seems more like common sense than anything. The mix between official style and lack there of also brings to question whether or not Watson attempts to humanize the research? Is this her way of taking ownership for what she’s saying or potentially taking ownership of the concept herself? Some could argue her intensions are to create personal opinion, while others could say her methods are hindering the strength of her argument in this research altogether.

-Scott Schell

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