Methods: We identified 10 journals that publish school social work, disability, and/or special education research and used a simple search string that yielded 100 articles published between 2000 and 2020, with 37 articles retained after a title and abstract screening. Though high impact journals were favorable, we included relevant journals with low impact factors and/or ratio of cited to uncited articles according to Scimago Journal and Country Rank as these journals tend to more specialized. Using 26 articles (13 each from primarily social work and disability-focused journals), we built a directed network of 1,173 nodes (i.e., references) and used modularity to examine communities of topical clusters. Data visualization and analyses, including network centrality measures, were conducted in Gephi 0.9.2.
Results: Approximately 40% of the network consisted of book chapters and agency/program reports, suggesting the importance of grey literature in practice-oriented fields. From the 699 journal article references we generated a 2-core subnetwork in which every article cites (or is cited by) at least two other articles, resulting in 24 nodes that represented 3.4% of the whole journal network. This 2-core network had a closeness centrality of 0.625 with risk monitoring and response-to-intervention research as the main bridges between the fields.
Conclusions and Implications: Though our search for school social work and special education journal articles was not exhaustive, a snapshot of a citation network between these two disciplines revealed areas in which information sharing should be improved. Professional development and the role of school social workers in special education was exclusively cited between social work journal articles, suggesting the need for more team collaboration research in special education and clarification of school personnel roles.