Citation network analysis of research on sport officials: a lack of interconnectivity

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Taylor & Francis Group


In sport research, the majority of attention is directed toward athletes. While investigations on sport officials have proliferated in recent years, many queries remain unanswered. Through citation analysis, we investigated how information is shared amongst sport official researchers. We focused on a particular group of sport officials that interact with athletes during competition, or what MacMahon and Plessner (2008) termed “interactors”. We searched 3 databases for articles published before 2012 that centred on psycho-social and perceptual-cognitive aspects of officiating. Three groups of research included personality, stress, and decision-making. The resultant 115-article network revealed that little connectivity within and between groups; that is, articles did not frequently cite other articles in the citation network (an average of 4.25 citations per article, with the median value being 2.0). The 12 most cited articles (appearing in 9 journals) were mainly original papers and focused on male soccer referees’ decision-making; however, the publication dates varied from 1990 to 2004. We discuss the results and implications this paper has on sport officials research, particularly related to sport officials being used as a context to study general expertise, the lack of a true sport official journal, and the similarities and differences of the most cited articles.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology on 02/04/2015, available online:


referees, arbiters, personality, stress, decision-making


David J. Hancock, Géraldine Rix-Lièvre & Jean Côté (2015) Citation network analysis of research on sport officials: a lack of interconnectivity, International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 8:1, 95-105, DOI: 10.1080/1750984X.2015.1022202

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