Citation Network Analysis of Research on Sport Officials: A Lack of Interconnectivity

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Hancock, David J.
Rix-Lièvre, Géraldine
Côté, Jean
Referees , Arbiters , Personality , Stress , Decision-Making
In sport research, the majority of attention is directed towards athletes. While investigations on sport officials have proliferated in recent years, many queries remain unanswered. Through citation analysis, we investigate how information is shared among sport official researchers. We focus on a particular group of sport officials that interact with athletes during competition, or what MacMahon and Plessner have termed ‘interactors’. We searched three databases for articles published before 2012 that centred on psycho-social and perceptual-cognitive aspects of officiating. Our three groups of research consisted of personality, stress, and decision-making. The resultant 115-article network revealed 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 nine 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 on sport official 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 between the most cited articles.
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