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Social Networks
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Abstract An important puzzle in social network research is to explain how macro-level structures emerge from micro-level network processes. Explaining the emergence and stability of structural groups in social networks is particularly difficult for two reasons. First, because groups are characterized both by high connectedness within (group cohesion) and lack of connectedness between them (group boundaries). Second, because a large number of theoretical micro-level network processes contribute t...
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Abstract Social network research can help us understand intractable problems central to the challenges of today’s health care system: silo-working, bottlenecks, gaps, poor communication, professional isolation, and other social processes with the propensity to compromise patient safety and quality care. In this paper, we discuss practical and ethical challenges to designing and collecting quality network data faced by health services researchers. The paper develops high-utility recommendations t...
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Abstract Multiple dynamics jointly determine who we befriend, however, researchers have failed to systematically assess which processes matter most under different circumstances. Here I draw on observations around how the demands of paddy rice cultivation shape social interaction to demonstrate that the relative importance of reciprocity, transitivity and generalised exchange to who rice producers choose as friends varies with the amount of agricultural land under their control. In doing so, I u...
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Abstract Although most network studies involve the collection of either ego or whole network data, a smaller subset of work has focused on the collection of network chain data. Collecting network chain data involves collecting a path in an unobserved whole network, and can be useful for capturing phenomena like degrees of separation or search processes. In this paper, we draw on past network chain data collection studies and reviews to propose a design framework for network chain data collection...
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Abstract How do the structure and relational features of family networks affect refugees’ mental health after migration, particularly when refugees are geographically separated from their family? Using the first wave of the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees, which is representative of the population of refugees who arrived in Germany between 2013 and 2016, this study finds that the size of the nuclear family has a significant positive relationship with refugees’ mental health, whereas family sepa...
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Abstract This article presents the design and implementation of a network intervention to foster scientific collaboration at a research university, and describes an experimental framework for rigorous evaluation of the intervention’s impact. Based on social network analysis of publication and grant data, an innovative type of research funding program was developed as a form of alteration of the university’s collaboration network. The intervention consisted in identifying research communities in ...
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Abstract This study addresses ethical questions about conducting health science research using network data from social media platforms. We provide examples of ethically problematic areas related to participant consent, expectation of privacy, and social media networks. Further, to illustrate how researchers can maintain ethical integrity while leveraging social media networks, we describe a study that demonstrates the ability to use social media to identify individuals affected by cancer. We di...
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Abstract This paper examines the performance of networked groups on problems that require the aggregation of information from diverse sources. We present results from a behavioral experiment where groups of twenty networked participants worked on a problem that required them to pool unique information to discover a solution, and then disseminate it to others for adoption. We found that networks comprised of subgroups containing diverse information, which provided many opportunities for local syn...
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Abstract Bridging the social networks, field methods and ethics literatures, I make the case that the process of reporting research findings is an ethical issue, and recommend elevating it in the research design. I draw on a reflective account of three research experiences with settings in, respectively, online health communities, economic organizations, and the mainstream media. I proceed in steps, discussing release of personal network results to individual participants, of whole network resul...
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Abstract Network research in organizational contexts faces ethical challenges related to revealing the identity of participants, managing power relations, and managing the interests and potential harms of the different stakeholders. In this article, we review the ethical issues associated with the investigation of the personal and organizational networks of travel agents in Moscow. In our case study, we interviewed 32 tourism agents from Moscow and its region, obtaining information on 45 people ...
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