Managing information on the physical education research field: Bibliometric analysis

Keywords: physical education, information management, bibliometrics, research profiling, keywords co occurrence analysis


Background and Study Aim: The aim of the study is to assess the development of scientific production and to map thematic coverage of research in physical education. The research process is focused on the following study questions: (1) how has the research productivity developed in the physical education research field?, (2) who are the main contributors (countries, universities, authors, source titles) to the amassing research output in the field?, (3) what are the leading thematic areas attracting the most attention of the academia?, (4) what are the emerging topics in the research field? Material and Methods: The Scopus database was used as a source of bibliometric data for the research sampling process. The research sample (N=9,224) consisted of the publications including the phrase ‘physical education’ in their titles. In order to achieve the aim of the study, we employed bibliometric methods i.e. research profiling and keywords co-occurrence analysis. We conducted general publication profiling to assess the trends in scientific production and to recognize leading contributors to the research field. We applied keywords co-occurrence analysis in order to identify and explore major thematic areas as well as emerging topics within the research field. VOSviewer software was used to support the analysis process and visualize the findings. Results: The study shows that physical education is a well-established research field with a long tradition. In the 2010s, it has received an increasing attention of academia which resulted in breakthrough growth in the number of publications indexed in Scopus. The amassing research output is distributed over 26 subject areas. Social Sciences, Medicine and Health Professions are the subject areas grouping the highest number of publications. The leading contributors to the research field are: the most productive country – the United States, the most productive research institution – Loughborough University, the United Kingdom, the most prolific author – David Kirk from the University of Strathclyde, the United Kingdom, the first choice source title – Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kultury. Within the physical education research field, there are identified five leading thematic clusters related to: (1) physical education didactics, (2) physical activity of school pupils, (3) physical education of adolescents, (4) human motor competence, (5) physical activity of adults. Emerging topics include the following issues: (1) physical education teachers and their training/education, (2) physical education in the tertiary education context, (3) physical education in the secondary education context. Conclusions: The study contributes to better understanding of development patterns in research on physical education. It provides an added value for managing information on scientific productivity in the research field. Through discovering leading thematic areas and emerging topics within the research field, the study points out the issues important both for further research and development of theory as well as for educational and business practice.


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Author Biographies

Mateusz Tomanek, Nicolaus Copernicus University; Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management, Nicolaus Copernicus University; ul. Gagarina 13a, 87-100, Toruń, Poland.
Andrzej Lis, Nicolaus Copernicus University; Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management, Nicolaus Copernicus University; ul. Gagarina 13a, 87-100, Toruń, Poland.


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How to Cite
Tomanek M, Lis A. Managing information on the physical education research field: Bibliometric analysis. Physical education of students. 2020;24(4):213-26.