Introduction to Social Network Analysis


Associate Professor Malcolm Alexander

Course outline

This course is designed for social researchers and PhD students doing projects that may involve some network analysis. Social Network Analysis (SNA) involves fieldwork based research practices as well as analysis.

The course works from qualitative fieldwork such as interviews or participant-observation and associated techniques for making network diagrams and other analyses. It covers basic data collection methods and exploratory analyses for both ethnographic-oriented ‘whole network’ SNA and ego-centric network (egonet and survey) research trajectories.

The course covers the following topics:

  • Creating and tweaking SNA network diagrams
  • Recording, managing and manipulation tie data records of qualitative and/or quantitative data
  • Techniques for exploring SNA data sets
  • Basic SNA measures and metrics at node and network levels
  • Principles of inferential statistics for SNA data sets
  • Collection and handling of 2-mode/affiliation data and its interpretation.

The principal aim of the course is to demonstrate how these tools can add value to applied or empirical studies of actual organisational, community or informal networks. It presents SNA research templates for manageable consultancy or PhD projects. Participants are invited to bring their current research projects to the course for discussion and advice.

The course indicates areas where SNA is making significant contributions to academic research and knowledge in fields such as business, health, marketing, education, psychology, politics and sociology. It also discusses SNA’s potential contributions to the mining and analysis of ‘big data’ from social networking and other digital trace databases.


Carrington PJ & Scott J (2011). The Sage handbook of social network analysis. London: Sage.

Kilduff M & Tsai W (2003). Social networks and organisations. London: Sage.

Prell C (2011). Social network analysis: history, theory & methodology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.