Mapping the scientific structure of positive youth development research in sport

Publication Name

International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology


The systematic analysis of academic publishing and citation practices serves as an indication of the conceptual and intellectual structure of a defined field of study. To highlight the structure of research in sport-based positive youth development, 198 peer-reviewed articles published between 1999 and 2020 were subject to citation network analysis. Descriptive analyses highlighted a steady increase in publication frequency across two decades (annual growth rate = 3.36%) and outlined the most prominent contributors to PYD research as a function of authors, articles, and sources. Further, we mapped the conceptual structure of PYD research in sport using a co-occurrence keyword network and thematic map, and the intellectual structure of the research by producing a co-citation network of articles and authors in the field. In all, this review of publishing and citation practices in sport-based PYD is the first to bring the research together in full to map the emergence of conceptual trends over time as well as the authors, articles, and journals associated with these developments. We conclude with recommendations related to foundational PYD texts, elements of a published manuscript used in bibliometric analysis, and a need for conceptual clarity in the field of sport-based PYD research.

Open Access Status

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Link to publisher version (DOI)