UK SNA 2011

few days ago, i attended the main social networks conference/gathering in UK.

there was an interesting discussion about the future of the elsevir journal "social networks". apparently, if you want to have an easy time getting in, you need to do research on 'methodology'. frankly, IMHO, this is the best thing they could do to kill the journal. alas, the journal's table of contents already reflect this decision. that is why i have rarely found interesting articles in this journal, while first monday and AJS are full of great contributions. don't get me wrong. i love methodological contributions to social networks - tom snijders and sinan aral are doing fantastic work in this area. i just think that methodological contributions are only a tiny part of a larger picture, a picture that hosts amazing work by, eg, duncan watts, danah boyd, and michael macy (all in US). instead, UK researchers in the area of social networks seem to be anchored to pretty "traditional research". at least, that was my impression based on the talks at UK SNA, but i will be very happy to be proven wrong ;) and there are notable exceptions in UK - eg, dunbar of oxford, bernie hogan of OII, and few others…

here are few notes taken during the talks.

cecile emery studied the relationship between big five personality traits and emerge of leaders. she considered not only leaders' personalities but also followers'. she found that leaders with high conscientiousness and extraversion tend to attract followers over time, and followers high in openness and conscientiousness tend to follow more. leader-follower pairs tend to be different on agreeableness and similar on openness.

agrita kiopa of georgia tech discussed a very interesting problem - how your friendship relations impact your work output. the main idea is that, to get something, you have to ask, so friendship becomes important also at work. they run a longitudinal national study of US academic scientists in 6 disciplines between 2006 and 2010. women are overepresented - i.e., 54% men, 46% women. friends are obtained by 6 name generators: role-based (collaborator, mentor) function-based (advice, discuss important issues), and close friends naming. 1600 egonetworks are collected as a result. so, for each person, there are 6 egonetworks. there is a considerable overlap among the 6 networks on average. full professors have more friends than assistant professors (control for tenure). the main results are that friendship has no effect in advice seeking but has effect on receive introductions and get reviews of, say, your papers. i hope she will devote a bit of future work to enemy (competitor) network. also, personality might be an interesting topic to study.

bernie hogan studied the correlates to social capital on Facebook. he used a mixed-method survey methodology and downloaded Facebook ego networks. he then focused on the question of whether your social capital is related to your (objective) network structure or to the way you (subjectively) perceive your network. Very interesting work.

tore opsahl's talk revisited the idea that small-world nets are ubiquitous. by contrast, he found that "small-world networks are far from as abundant as previously thought"

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  1. There is some basis on your critique of the journal.  One must not forget that over the last 30 years this has been the depository of the most substantial developments in the field.  However as Knoke said on the panel, they would not accept a theoretical piece at SN.  The journal is geared towards social statistics where theory can only be related to testable hypotheses that improve method.  

    Room for a number of other journals to fill the gap.  I think there were quite a few papers I liked.  Quality was higher than INSNA.

  2. yep, there is plenty of room for other journals :) in 5 years from now, i’d like to see how these decisions will affect the journal’s impact factor ;)

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