Collecting personal network data online: a new tool
[SAVE THE DATE: on 14th December 2012, we will hold a symposium on “Understanding Pro-Ana: Body, Networks and Nutrition” (Comprendre le phénomène pro-ana : corps, réseaux, alimentation) at Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris. It is an output of the research project ANAMIA of which the study presented here is part].
With Antonio Casilli and Lise Mounier, two colleagues in our ANAMIA research project, we have a new peer-reviewed article on “Eliciting personal network data in web surveys through participant-generated sociograms”, which has been accepted for publication in the Field Methods journal, and is expected to come out in Vol. 26, issue 2, 2014.
We present an innovative method to collect personal network data in a web survey. Via a user-friendly flash applet, respondents can draw their own social networks of acquaintances, whether offline or online. These “ego-centered” networks display as targets whose centre represents the survey participant (ego).
We ask participants to draw around them their contacts. For example, asking them to report their online contacts, we prompt them to think of:
My online contacts… are people whom I have talked to and/or interacted with in the last six months, and whom I meet for example on discussion forums, blogs, email, MSN, social networks (Facebook, Last.fm etc.). At the centre of this target, it’s me. I shall place the others around me, the closest towards the centre and the others further away.
By clicking on a “+” button, participants can add new acquaintances (alters), drag and drop them around the target. They then indicate who they are (name, type of relationship, and gender) and to draw ties between them if they exist, or to group them together if they belong to a common social circle.
The data retrieved in this way enable us to calculate classical network metrics (size, density, tie strength etc.) and, if more than one target has been filled, to compare different networks: for example, establish similarities and differences between the online and offline personal networks of participants.
We have used this method to conduct a survey of users of websites, blogs and forums dedicated to eating disorders, in France and the UK.
Filed under: Internet and social media, Social networks, Social science methodology, Sociology | 1 Comment
Tags: Eating behaviors, Eating disorders, Network Analysis, Pro-ana and pro-mia websites, Quantitative methods, Social science data, Sociology, Web, Well-being
I am an economic sociologist with interest in social networks and their impact on markets, organisations, consumer choice and health.
My research also includes work in social science methodology and data.
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