Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Characteristics of international collaboration in sport sciences publications and its influence on citation impact


Some bibliometric research has been carried out in sport sciences, but compared with other disciplines there is still no intensive study at macro level, especially on international collaboration. This study attempts to observe the status and trend of international collaboration in sport sciences at macro level, and to look at its relationship with academic impact. 20,804 publications from 63 consistently issued journals belonging to the Sport Sciences category in Web of Science database in 2000–2001 and 2010–2011 were analyzed. The main objects include co-authorship links of country pairs, the share of international co-authored publications, tendency and “affinity” in collaboration, and citation impact of international publications. Differences between countries and periods were observed. There is a rapid increase of the share of international collaboration in sport sciences. In some countries the share is even above 2/3; Co-authorship networks imply some cultural, political or geographical factors for collaboration, and their changes exhibit some new trends; Selected countries have strong tendency in collaboration; International collaborated publications have a higher performance than domestic ones in citation impact. But gaps between countries are narrowing. International collaboration really intensified in this field. European, especially Nordic countries are very fond of collaboration and have gained outstanding performance as a partner. It is meaningful to further explore the underlying motivation behind international collaboration in sport science research.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8


  1. Abramo, G., D’Angelo, C. A., & Costa, F. D. (2009). Research collaboration and productivity: Is there correlation? Higher Education, 57, 155–171.

  2. Agullo-Calatayud, V., Gonzalez-Alcaide, G., Valderrama-Zurian, J. C., et al. (2008). Consumption of anabolic steroids in sport, physical activity and as a drug of abuse: an analysis of the scientific literature and areas of research. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42, 103–109.

  3. Andrade, D. C. (2013). Bibliometric analysis of South American research in sports science from 1970–2012. Motriz, 19, 783–791.

  4. Baker, J., Robertson-Wilson, J., & Sedgwick, W. (2003). Publishing productivity in sport psychology 1970–2000: An exploratory examination of the Lotka-Price Law. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 25, 477–483.

  5. Ballesteros, J. A., & Rico, A. M. (2001). Public financing of cooperative R&D projects in Spain: The concerted projects under the National R&D Plan. Research Policy, 30, 625–641.

  6. Bartneck, C., & Hu, J. (2010). The fruits of collaboration in a multidisciplinary field. Scientometrics, 85, 41–52.

  7. Batagelj, V., & Mrvar, A. (2002). Pajek—analysis and visualization of large networks. Graph Drawing, 2265, 477–478.

  8. Beaver, D. D. (2001). Reflections on scientific collaboration (and its study): Past, present and future. Scientometrics, 52, 365–377.

  9. Beaver, D. D., & Rosen, R. (1979). Studies in scientific collaboration. Part II. Scientific co-authorship, research productivity and visibility in the French elite. Scientometrics, 1, 133–149.

  10. Birnholtz, J. P. (2007). When do researchers collaborate? toward a model of collaboration propensity. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58, 2226–2239.

  11. Bozeman, B., & Corley, E. (2004). Scientists’ collaboration strategies: Implications for scientific and technical human capital. Research Policy, 33, 599–616.

  12. Braun, T., Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (1985). Scientometric indicators. A 32 country comparison of publication productivity and citation impact. Singapore-Philadelphia: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.

  13. Braun, T., Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2001). Publication and cooperation patterns of the authors of neuroscience journals. Scientometrics, 51, 499–510.

  14. Butler, L. (2003). Explaining Australia’s increased share of ISI publications: The effects of a funding formula based on publication counts. Research Policy, 32, 143–155.

  15. Cherebetiu, G. (1980). Collaboration among the doctor, the coach, and the player. Volleyball Technical Journal, 5, 5–11.

  16. Coronado, R. A., Wurtzel, W. A., Simon, C. B., et al. (2011). Content and bibliometric analysis of articles published in the journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 41, 920–931.

  17. Dabić, M., & Drenjčević-Perić, I. (2008). Is there a potential impact of research and development (R&D) policy on health care system development in Croatia? Medicinski Glasnik, 5, 49–56.

  18. Daprano, C. M., Bruening, J. E., Pastore, D. L., et al. (2005). Collaboration in sport research: A case from the field. Quest, 57, 300–314.

  19. Dijkers, M. P. (2008). International collaboration and communication in rehabilitation research. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 90, 711–716.

  20. Feller, I., Ailes, C. P., & Roessner, J. P. (2002). Impacts of research universities on technological innovation in industry: Evidence from engineering research centers. Research Policy, 31, 457–474.

  21. Franchignoni, F., & Lasa, S. M. (2011). Bibliometric indicators and core journals in physical and rehabilitation medicine. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 43, 471–476.

  22. Frenken, K., & Leydesdorff, L. (2004). Scientometrics and the evaluation of European integration. In J. Ulijn & T. Brown (Eds.), Innovation, entrepreneurship and culture: The interaction between technology, progress and economic growth (pp. 87–102). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

  23. Glänzel, W. (2000). Science in Scandinavia: A bibliometric approach. Scientometrics, 48, 121–150.

  24. Glänzel, W. (2001). National characteristics in international scientific co-authorship relations. Scientometrics, 51, 69–115.

  25. Glänzel, W. (2002). Co-authorship patterns and trends in the sciences (1980–1998) A bibliometric study with implications for database indexing and search strategies. Library Trends, 50, 461–473.

  26. Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2001). Double effort = double impact? A critical view at international co-authorship in chemistry. Scientometrics, 50, 199–214.

  27. Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2004). Analyzing scientific networks through co-authorship. In H. F. M. Moed, W. Glänzel, & U. Schmoch (Eds.), Handbook of Quantitative Science and Technology Research. The use of publication and patent statistics in studies on S&T Systems (pp. 257–276). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

  28. Glänzel, W., & Zhou, P. (2011). Publication activity, citation impact and bi-directional links between publications and patents in biotechnology. Scientometrics, 86, 505–525.

  29. Glänzel, W., Schlemmer, B., Schubert, A., & Thijs, B. (2006a). Proceedings literature as additional data source for bibliometric analysis. Scientometrics, 68, 457–473.

  30. Glänzel, W., Leta, J., & Thijs, B. (2006b). Science in Brazil. Part 1: A macro-level comparative study. Scientometrics, 67, 67–86.

  31. Gossart, C., & Özman, M. (2009). Co-authorship networks in social sciences: The case of Turkey. Scientometrics, 78, 323–345.

  32. Grimby, G. (2011). Bibliometric indicators and international publishing in physical and rehabilitation medicine. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 43, 469–470.

  33. Grimby, G. (2012). Journal of rehabilitation medicine: Looking back at 13 years as editor-in-chief. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 44, 517–520.

  34. Grossman, J. W. (2002). Patterns of collaboration in mathematical research. SIAM News, 35, 8–9.

  35. Gulati, R., & Gargiulo, M. (1999). Where do interorganizational networks come from? American Journal of Sociology, 104, 1439–1493.

  36. Hampton, S. E., & Parker, J. N. (2011). Collaboration and productivity in scientific synthesis. Bioscience, 61, 900–910.

  37. Hara, N., Solomon, P., Kim, S. L., et al. (2003). An emerging view of scientific collaboration: Scientists’ perspectives on collaboration and factors that impact collaboration. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54, 952–965.

  38. Hawkins, D. T. (1977). Unconventional uses of on-line information retrieval systems: Online bibliometric studies. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 28, 13–18.

  39. Heinemann, K., & Preuss, W. (1990). 25 years of the international review for the sociology of sport: a content analysis. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 25, 3–15.

  40. Katz, J. S., & Martin, B. R. (1997). What is research collaboration? Research Policy, 26, 1–18.

  41. Kliegl, R., & Bates, D. (2011). International collaboration in psychology is on the rise. Scientometrics, 87, 149–158.

  42. Knudson, D., Bahamonde, R. (2012). Twenty- five year trends of authorship and sampling in ISBS proceedings. P 30th Conference of the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports 30:381.

  43. Landry, R., & Amara, N. (1998). The impact of transaction costs on the institutional structuration of collaborative academic research. Research Policy, 27, 901–913.

  44. Leta, J., Glänzel, W., & Thijs, B. (2006). Science in Brazil. Part 2: sectoral and institutional research profiles. Scientometrics, 67, 87–105.

  45. Lidor, R., Miller, U., & Rotstein, A. (1999). Is research on aging and physical activity really increasing A bibliometric analysis. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 7, 182–195.

  46. Lippi, G., Guidi, G. C., Nevil, A., et al. (2008). The growing trend of scientific interest in sports science research. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26, 1–2.

  47. Luukkonen, T., Persson, O., & Sivertsen, G. (1992). Understanding patterns of international scientific collaboration. Science Technology and Human Values, 17, 101–126.

  48. Martín, I., Olmo, J., Chirosa, L. J., et al. (2013). Bibliometric study (1922–2009) on rugby articles in research journals. South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, 35, 105–119.

  49. Martínez-Morilla, J. A., Ruiz-Caballero, J. A., Brito-Ojeda, E., et al. (2012). Scientific output on cardiology and sport: ranking of journals (2010) and excellence. Revista Internacional de Medicina y Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte, 12, 299–312.

  50. Narin, F., Stevens, K., & Whitlow, E. S. (1990). Scientific cooperation in Europe and the citation of multinationally authored papers. Scientometrics, 21, 313–323.

  51. Newman, M. E. J. (2003). Coauthorship networks and patterns of scientific collaboration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 101, 5200–5205.

  52. NordForsk. (2012). Sport sciences in the Nordic countries 2014. http://www.nordforsk.org/files/sport-sciences-in-the-nordic-countries. Accessed 11 Nov 2014.

  53. O’Connor, J., French, R., Sherrill, C., et al. (2001). Scholarly productivity in adapted physical activity pedagogy: A bibliometric analysis. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 18, 434–450.

  54. Paier, M., & Scherngell, T. (2011). Determinants of collaboration in European R&D networks: Empirical evidence from a discrete choice model. Industry and Innovation, 18, 89–104.

  55. Peset, F., Ferrer-Sapena, A., & Villamón, M. (2013). Scientific literature analysis of Judo in Web of Science. Archives of Budo, 9, 81–91.

  56. Pettigrew, A. G. (2012). Australia’s position in the world of science, technology & innovation. Occas Pap Ser, 2, 1–4.

  57. Porac, J. F., Wade, J. B., Fischer, H. M., et al. (2004). Human capital heterogeneity, collaborative relationships, and publication patterns in a multidisciplinary scientific alliance. Research Policy, 33, 661–678.

  58. Pouris, A. (2009). Fluorine research in South Africa and four benchmarking countries: Comparative mapping and assessment. Scientometrics, 78, 131–143.

  59. Reid, G., & Prupas, A. (1998). A documentary analysis of research priorities in disability sport. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 15, 168–178.

  60. Salton, G., & Mcgill, M. J. (1983). Introduction to modern information retrieval. Auckland: McGraw-Hill.

  61. Santos, J. M. S., & García, P. C. (2011). A bibliometric analysis of sports economics research. International Journal of Sport Finance, 6, 222–244.

  62. Schubert, A., & Braun, T. (1990). World flash on basic research: international collaboration in the sciences, 1981–1985. Scientometrics, 19, 3–10.

  63. Schubert, A., & Glänzel, W. (2006). Cross-national preference in co-authorship, references and citations. Scientometrics, 69, 409–428.

  64. Shilbury, D. (2011). A Bibliometric study of citations to sport management and marketing journals. Journal of Sport Management, 25, 423–444.

  65. Snyder, H., & Bonzi, S. (1998). Patterns of self-citations across disciplines (1980–1989). Journal of Information Science, 24, 431–435.

  66. Tsigilis, N., Grouios, G., Tsorbatzoudis, H., et al. (2010). Impact factors of the sport sciences journals: current trends, relative positions, and temporal stability. European Journal of Sport Science, 10, 81–90.

  67. Ugolini, D., Neri, M., Cesario, A., et al. (2013). Bibliometric analysis of literature in cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases rehabilitation: growing numbers, reducing impact factor. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 94, 324–331.

  68. Valcárcel, J. V., Devís-Devís, J., Villamón, M., et al. (2010). Scientific cooperation in the field of physical activity and sport science in Spain. Revista Espanola De Documentacion Cientifica, 33, 90–105.

  69. Walsh, J. P., & Maloney, N. G. (2007). Collaboration structure, communication media, and problems in scientific work teams. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 712–732.

  70. Wang, X., Xu, S., Wang, Z., et al. (2012). International scientific collaboration of China: Collaborating countries, institutions and individuals. Scientometrics, 95, 885–894.

  71. Williams, S. J., & Kendall, L. R. (2007). A profile of sports science research (1983–2003). Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 10, 193–200.

  72. Yaminfirooz, M., Siamian, H., Jahani, M. A., et al. (2014). Scientific production of sports science in Iran: A scientometric analysis. Acta Informatica Medica, 22, 195–198.

Download references


The authors would like to thank Wouter Jeuris and Mehmet Ali Abdulhayoglu, colleagues at ECOOM of KU Leuven for their assistance in preparing the data.


Support for this study was received from Shanghai University of Sport, Ph.D. Academic Visiting Program (shtyfx20130111).

Author information

Correspondence to Wolfgang Glänzel.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 31 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wang, L., Thijs, B. & Glänzel, W. Characteristics of international collaboration in sport sciences publications and its influence on citation impact. Scientometrics 105, 843–862 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-015-1735-y

Download citation


  • Research collaboration
  • Citation impact
  • Sport sciences