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Measuring networks in the field

  • Jennifer M. Larson (a1) and Janet I. Lewis (a2)


Measuring networks in the field—usually by asking individuals systematically about their networks–entails complex design choices, with large consequences for the resulting data. Because observations in a network are interconnected, well-established practices from non-network survey settings can lead researchers astray. Despite the increasing focus on networks in political science, little guidance is available for researchers facing high-stakes decisions when designing a study to elicit networks. This paper serves as a practical guide. It offers a simple framework for constructing a network theory, illuminates tradeoffs like measuring more nodes versus more ties per node or asking for names versus selections from a list, and proposes a new technique for cleaning relational data.


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