Mapping the World of Coaching Science: a Citation Network Analysis

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Journal of Coaching Education
Mapping the World of Coaching Science: A Citation Network Analysis Sandrine Rangeon
University of Ottawa, Canada
Wade Gilbert
California State University – Fresno, USA
Mark Bruner
Nipissing University, Canada
ABSTRACT
The purpose of the present study was to use citation network analysis to identify key publications and influential researchers in coaching science. A citation network analysis was conducted on references of English-language peer-reviewed coaching research articles published in 2007 and 2008 (n=141 articles; 3,891 references). Publications were coded for type (e.g., conceptual, empirical) and topic (e.g., efficacy, coach development). The structure of the field was revealed through the creation of a co-authorship network. Results show that coaching science is highly influenced by a small set of key publications and researchers. The results provide a unique overview of the field and influential authors, and complement recent overviews of coaching science (Gilbert & Trudel, 2004; Lyle & Cushion, 2010; McCullick et al., 2009).

Key Words: sports coach, research review, bibliometrics

Volume 5, Issue 1, May 2012

Page 83 of 113

A publication from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), an association in the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) 1900 Association Drive • Reston, Virginia • 20191 • www.NASPEinfo.org • 703.476.3410 ©2010 by NASPE. All Rights Reserved.

Journal of Coaching Education
Mapping the World of Coaching Science: A Citation Network Analysis While sport coaching has expanded as a legitimate profession around the world, so too has the volume and scope of scholarly activity related to it (Lyle & Cushion, 2010). Some of the most prominent sports coaching research articles have been traced back to the early 1970s, and the yearly publication rate has dramatically increased since then (Gilbert & Trudel, 2004; Rangeon, Gilbert, Trudel, & Côté, 2009). There are over 1,000 research studies on sports coaching published in peer-reviewed English language journals (Gilbert, 2010) and numerous overviews of coaching science are now available (Côté & Gilbert, 2009; Gilbert & Trudel, 2004; Horn, 2008; Lyle & Cushion, 2010). In addition to global reviews of coaching science, overviews of sub-topics within coaching science are increasingly common, as witnessed by recent review papers on coach education (McCullick, et al., 2009), coach leadership (Vella, Oades, & Crowe, 2010), coaching effectiveness (Côté & Gilbert, 2009), and positive coaching (Dennison & Avner, 2011) to cite a few. These types of reviews provide important glimpses not only into what is known about specific coaching science topics, but also reveal much about the evolution of the field, in terms of research foci, conceptual frameworks, and the researchers who are shaping the field of study.

In perhaps the most comprehensive review of the research in coaching science, Gilbert and Trudel (2004) used content analysis to create an annotated bibliography of 30 years of coaching research. Using a four-phase design, a total of 610 coaching research articles were coded in regard to their focus, method, participants, context, and sport. Results revealed the prominence of studies on coaching behaviors and use of quantitative methodologies. However, the distinct popularity of quantitative methodologies such as questionnaires/scales and systematic observations seemed to be decreasing over the years to the profit of qualitative methodologies (e.g., interviews, qualitative observations/field notes, documents). Another distinctive trend was the dominance of studies conducted with coaches of team sports and in the school-based context. Although research trends were noted in the results of their study, Gilbert and Trudel’s analysis did not distinguish publications based on any measure of influence or significance to the field. An additional outcome...
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