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Social Network Analysis as a Research Method: A Cutting-Edge Technique That Visually Demonstrates Relationships


Network Data Analysis


Once you have collected your data and put it in a matrix form, you can use a number of software tools to perform the analysis. This will allow you to track the flow of information, identify important actors, or detect communities within the network.  You will be able to compute a number of local and network-level measures (transitivity, reciprocity, network density and centralization, among others). The analyses will inform your understanding about the structure of relationships between the members of your population of interest.

 

 

To get you started on the analysis, here are some popular and user-friendly social network packages that you can use in your research:

  • UCINET: Comprehensive network analysis software developed by Steve Borgatti, Martin Everett and Lin Freeman. Free to try.
  • NetDraw: Network visualization software (also comes bundled in UCINET). Free.
  • Pajek: Analysis and visualization for large networks developed by Vladimir Batagelj and  Andrej Mrvar. Free.
  • ORA: Network package developed by the CASOS center at Carnegie Mellon. Free.
  • NodeXL: A network add-in for Microsoft Excel. Free.

 

All of the programs mentioned here have detailed - and helpful! - online manuals.

 

We also suggest that you take a look at a couple books (freely available online) that will introduce you to a range of network concepts and methods:

Hanneman, R.& Riddle, M. (2006) Introduction to social network methods

Easley, D. & Kleinberg, J. (2010) Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World

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