Social Network Analysis (SNA) and LIS research: newly-published article in the Journal of Documentation

Dr Louise Cooke

My co-author: Dr Louise Cooke of Loughborough University

Last year Dr Louise Cooke of Loughborough University and I worked on a research project that explored the applicability of Social Network Analysis (SNA) to Library and Information Science research. The novelty of this work was in its assessment of the value of SNA in the context of the development of researcher networks. The findings from our empirical work, which we wrote up for publication as a research paper, indicate the potential of a methodology that could be used as a replicable framework for further development of networks in other contexts.

The manuscript of our paper was accepted for publication in the Journal of Documentation (JDoc) in December 2012. JDoc is one of the top international information science journals and regularly achieves the highest citation ratings in ISI for comparable titles.

Our article was published this month in JDoc volume 69 issue 6, and has already been cited in an article on the influences of individual and social factors on information behaviour in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), the top international journal in the domain of information science.

Journal of DocumentationIf you would like to read the article, the published version can be accessed from JDoc contents page on the Emerald web site (non-subscribers to Emerald will need to pay a fee to reach the full text). The full-text of the manuscript is available also available and free to download. An abstract of the article is given below.

Abstract: Cooke, L. & Hall, H. (2013). Facets of DREaM: a Social Network Analysis exploring network development in the UK LIS research community. Journal of Documentation, 69(6), 786-806.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a research approach that focuses on relationships among social entities, and the patterns and implications of these relationships. This paper reviews the value of SNA as a method appropriate to research in the domain of Library and Information Science (LIS). In addition to offering a brief overview of the academic antecedents of modern-day SNA, the relevance of SNA to LIS research is illustrated through the presentation of a case study.

DREaM logoThe case of the AHRC-funded Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project demonstrates how SNA may be deployed to evaluate the development of professional networks. In this instance a new network of LIS researchers – the DREaM cadre network, made up of a mix of researchers, doctoral students and practitioner researchers – is considered in the context of specific interventions aimed at increasing and strengthening network ties among participants. Data from other sources, including a ‘before and after’ audit of network members’ skills and participant feedback on a series of face-to-face network events, serve to supplement the SNA output and strengthen the evidence base on the effectiveness of these interventions. The work discussed offers a useful model for nurturing and assessing network development that is applicable to, or may be adapted for, a broad spectrum of professional contexts.

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