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Maksim (Max) Tsvetovat Center for Social Complexity George Mason University email@example.com January 25, 2011
This is version 7.0
There has been a dramatic rise in the use of social network analysis over the last decade. The availability of standard texts and robust software has undoubtedly contributed to this increase. Social network analysis focuses on the relationships between actors and acknowledges that an individual’s behaviour is inﬂuenced by those around them. Actors and their actions are viewed as interdependent rather than independent units. This view means that the unit of analysis is not the individual, but an entity consisting of the individuals and the linkages connecting them. The purpose of this class is to introduce you to both social-science and mathematical concepts underlying the ﬁeld of social network analysis. We shall look at the description and visualisation of network data and consider issues of validity and representation. We will then focus on uncovering structural properties of individual actors and the detection and description of groups. Finally we will consider how to test network hypothesis. This is a research-oriented course; its purpose is to give you basic tools for navigating the Social Network Analysis literature, and introducing you to the methods of doing social network analysis on real data.
The course meets weekly, on Tuesdays at 4:30 pm, in Innovation Hall 205.
I’m going to attempt to use Facebook as our course website this semester. I’ve never done this before, so if it fails we’ll fall back to old-fashioned email. If you don’t have a Facebook account already, please create one (you don’t have to ”friend me”, I won’t be oﬀended – and you can use a fake name if you are opposed to Facebook on principle). Once you are logged onto Facebook, search for CSS 692 - Spring 2011 and the ﬁrst search result will be our class page with this syllabus. Click Like and you will be allowed to post and comment on the page. One of the side-beneﬁts of using Facebook as our class site is that we’ll be able to capture our online interactions and analyze our class social network – which – if the experiment is successful – will be one of your homeworks.
The ”oﬃcial” oﬃce hours for this course are between 3 pm and 4:15 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and by appointment at mutually convenient times. My oﬃce is in the room 381 of Research 1 building. The easiest way to reach me with a question or concern is by email or Facebook. I would appreciate if – when you have questions about readings or course material – you post them to the Facebook group ﬁrst. This gives everyone an opportunity to comment on them. If the matter requires a face-to-face meeting, we can also schedule appointments at mutually convenient times.
• Stanley Wasserman and Katherine Faust, Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications, # # # # Paperback: 857 pages (hardcover also available) Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 25, 1994) ISBN: 0521387078 List Price: $32.95
This book is the “Bible” and the Cookbook of SNA, and will answer every one of your questions as long as it begins with the words ”how do I....” . If your question begins with ”why”, you may have a slightly harder time. For that, I will provide plenty of supplemental readings on the website. • A number of research papers will also be included in readings. In a way, these are more important then the textbook, as they illustrate the history of the ﬁeld as well as the state-of-the-art. Readings for each class will be posted on the website as PDF ﬁles.
Schedule of Topics
Note on snow days: We will probably get one or two in the semester. If a class is cancelled due to a snow day, we shift all topics forward by a week. Homework deadlines don’t shift forward, sorry ;-). Week 1 – Jan 25 What is social network analysis – social network analysis and link analysis – survey of tools and applications – basic graph theory – nodes, edges, graphs – graph density – walks, paths and geodesics. Week 2 - Feb 1 Centrality in social networks – degree centrality – closeness centrality – betweenness centrality – power centrality. Network Workbench, UCINET and NetDraw Lab – ﬁrst practical analysis session. Homework 1 handed out. Week 3 - Feb 2 Cohesive subgroups – cliques – clusters – clans Sept. 11 Hijacker network potentially taught by a guest lecturer Week 4 - Feb 8 Brokerage and structural holes – Cohesion and closure – friendship vs. competition – tradeoﬀs in eﬃciency vs. inclusiveness – implication in organization theory, politics. Homework 1 due. CLASS MIGHT BE CANCELLED OR GUEST-TAUGHT – IARPA meeting Week 5 - Feb 15 Block modeling – ﬁnding distinct roles in social networks – analyzing social groups as systems of roles. Week 6 - Feb 22 Presentations of project proposals by students. Week 7 - Mar 1 Distance and clustering in social networks – analyzing similarities and diﬀerences – multi-dimensional scaling Week 8 - Mar 8 Strength of ties – dealing with non-binary networks – strength of weak ties – strength of strong ties Homework 2 handed out. SPRING BREAK – Mar 16 Week 9 - Mar 22 First approach to 2-mode networks – knowledge networks – feature matrices – networks of similarities
Week 10 - Mar 29 Formation of social networks through information exchange – eﬀect of networks on information exchange Project Checkpoint Due. Week 11 - Apr 5 Rich social networks – PCANS – MetaMatrix – Semantic Social Networks – Link Analysis Networks Homework 2 Due. Week 12 - Apr 12 Dynamic social networks – dealing with dimension of time – evolution of networks over time – forces in networks Week 13 - Apr 19 Visualization of networks – pretty pictures – what looks good and how to make it – network movies Paper draft due. Week 14 - Apr 26 May 4 - FINAL PRESENTATIONS, PART 1 May 10 - Oﬀ – reading day May 17 - FINAL PRESENTATIONS, PART 2
Assignments and Projects
The goal of this course if to familiarize you with research techniques and interpretations that comprise the ﬁeld of Social Network Analysis. Thus, the course work is designed to expose you not only to the primary concepts, but also to the real-world techniques and their limitations and pitfalls.
There will be 2 homeworks where you will get a chance to test and apply the techniques you learn in class, using available data. Think of the homeworks as a walled-oﬀ playground where you can test your analysis tools and skills. This is also the right place and time to resolve any questions you may have with material that we are working with. Each homework is worth 20% of your grade.
Course Project - Small Groups
The goal of the course project is to expose you to the way Social Network Analysis is done in the real world. In the course project, you will need to complete a social network study, complete with data acquisition, analysis, visualization and interpretation. Given the project-oriented nature of this course, you will learn more and achieve more interesting results if you work in small groups. I recommend that you work in groups of 2-3 people. I also recommend that all members of the group participate in the project at data collection and analysis stages. After the Checkpoint, you should designate one person to act as an editor – this will result in higher quality of writing in the end product. The goal of the Checkpoint and the Draft deadlines is to prevent procrastination on the course projects. In the ideal world, you should make steady progress towards the goals you stated in your project proposal from beginning of the course. This will result in better overall quality of your ﬁnal paper, and in a stress-free ﬁnal presentation. Please start thinking about your project topic, and recruit members of your project team as soon as you can. I have a few project topics that I could give you if you are stuck, but please make a reasonable eﬀort of coming up with one of your own. The project is broken down into several stages: • Project Proposal (due September 25, 5% of the grade) Please submit a 1 or 2-page abstract of what are you planning to do. Each project group will give a 10-minute in-class presentation of the proposal, followed by 5 minutes of Q and A. Please prepare a short PowerPoint presentation (2-5 slides) and email it to me ahead of the presentation. If you are having diﬃculties zeroing in on the project topic, please talk to me earlier rather then later; once the project proposal is presented, please consider it is set in stone. • Checkpoint (due October 6, 5% of the grade) By the time of the checkpoint, you should have completed data collection and . If you are having major problems with any of the steps, this is the time to talk about it. The checkpoint will be graded on a 5-point scale (0 = “nothing done yet”, 5 = “strong progress towards stated goal”) • Paper Draft (due November 27, 5% of the grade) An assessment of your progress; The research itself should be practically complete; we should be able to have a fruitful discussion about your results and their interpretation. I will act as an editor and give you written feedback, both on the quality of your research and the quality of your writing. From that point on, you will have between two and three weeks to ﬁnish writing and produce a polished piece. The draft will be graded on a 5-point scale (0 = “not started writing or not submitted the draft”, 5 = “only minor editing required for ﬁnal submission”)
• Project Paper (due December 18, 25% of the grade) The ﬁnal product of the course project should be a scholarly paper describing the motivation for the project, data collection and analysis methods, results and discussion thereof. The goal is to create a paper that may be presented in a social network analysis conference, and potentially lead to a longer-term research project with multiple publications. The paper will be graded on its scientiﬁc merit, as well as the quality of writing. While I am not expecting a written masterpiece, the paper should at least be readable. I can put you in touch with writing and editorial help and resources, if you require this kind of help.
Final Presentations, 10% of the grade
Instead of a formal ﬁnal exam, we will conclude this course with a mini-conference open to the public. The presentation format of the mini-conference will mimic that of a real research meeting, and serve as a training ground for further presentations in the ﬁeld. I repeat: the ﬁnal presentations will be open to the public. Please choose your project topic in such a way that a public presentation will not get you (and me!) ﬁred or sued. Every course project will be given a 20-minute presentation slot, with a 5-10 minute question-and-answer period at the end.
• Course Project - 55% of the total grade, broken down as follows: – Project Proposal - 5% – Checkpoint - 5% – Paper Draft - 5% – Project Paper - 30% – Presentation - 10% • Homeworks – 40%, or 20% each. • Course Participation - 5%
Homeworks will be accepted up 2 days late with no penalty. After this grace period, the penalty is a letter-grade for ”really late”, and 2 letter grades for ”wait, this was due, like last month”.
I’m usually generous with extensions, as long as you keep me appraised of your progress. ”My dog ate my homework” or ”I was away for work” doesn’t cut it Lateness in course projects will most likely be caused by overly ambitious project proposals – so be careful not to bite oﬀ more then you can chew. If you end up with an overly ambitious project, write up a portion of it for the course and turn it in on time, and then continue to work on the project as an independent study course.
The purpose of this course is NOT to teach you how to use software packages for network analysis, but to work through the concepts and methodologies of the ﬁeld. There are a number of good packages available for social network analysis, and all of them have a place under the sun. I will make each of the packages below available as a download, and also post downloadable documentation for them. For the ﬁnal project, you will have to make a choice of software tools – and you are responsible for learning how to use them
Social Network Analysis and Visualization
Every piece of software below has its strengths and weaknesses, and none are perfect. You are free to experiment with all of them and decide what works best for you. I will make an assumption in this class that you will be able to learn the software on your own. RTFM, please. All of the tools have strange user interfaces (if they have one at all), some are well-documented and some are not. I’ll run a UCINET tutorial before homework 1 is due, but that’s about all the help you’ll get from me unless you’re really stuck. • NodeXL: http://nodexl.codeplex.com If you’re an Excel guru, this might work very well for you. I personally avoid Excel like the plague... YMMV. Free and Open Source. • Network Workbench: http://nwb.slis.indiana.edu/ A brand new package, very impressive start. Free and Open Source. • Python NetworkX: http://networkx.lanl.gov/ A very nice package for these that can program. If you can deal with SAS or Matlab or the like - may be a very good choice for you. Free and Open Source. I would like to make more use of this in class. • R SNA Package: http://erzuli.ss.uci.edu/R.stuff/ Some swear by it, many swear AT it. Best mathematics implementation, best statistical methods, best of breed as far as rigor. If you already know R, you’ll be right at home. If not, you’ll be in a lot of pain. Free and Open Source. • UCINET, NetDraw, Mage: http://www.analytictech.com/downloaduc6.htm UCINET exposes to the user a large amount of mechanics of doing social network analysis. The package is very comprehensive and covers most tasks you will face in
analysis. The major drawback is an outdated user interface which makes it diﬃcult to do multiple analysis sets. Free for 30 days (“trial copy”), $40 for student license. • ORA: http://www.casos.cs.cmu.edu/projects/ora A very capable package with a nice visualization engine and clean user interface. I recommend ORA for all non-technical users as it is much easier to learn (even if not 100% complete). Free as Beer, not as Speech. • Pajek: http://vlado.fmf.uni-lj.si/pub/networks/pajek/ A Slovenian package. Stellar capabilities, but strange user interface. You can use it instead of UCINET if you prefer. Free as Beer, not as Speech. • NetMiner: www.netminer.com A commercial package; nice analysis and visualization with a clean interface, but very expensive. There’s a 30-day trial version that you could check out. • Analyst Notebook, Palantir, etc. – these are common in the government but are entirely unsuitable for this course. Ask me why and you will get a 30-minute angry rant. ;-)
• Acrobat Reader • Mathematics software - Matlab, Octave, SciLab, Mathematica. Optional. • Stats software - Stata, SPSS, R. Optional.
Use any word processor you are comfortable with; for electronic submissions, I recommend sending me PDF ﬁles. A Anybody willing to learn L TEX and use it for paper writing will be rewarded with free pizza (beer, lunch, take your pick) ;-)
Collaboration and Plagiarism
This course plagiarism policy adheres to the standard academic practices. If continue to work in a university setting or publish in scholarly publication, you can expect to face very similar standards. Homeworks are designed to help you enhance your analysis skills, and teach you to use the software packages. Most of the software we use does not have clean interfaces, and you will have a pretty diﬃcult time learning it. Therefore, it is OK if you work in groups during
the analysis stage of your project. However, all writing should be individual and reﬂect personal interpretations and conclusions drawn from the data. Longer assignments (the Project Proposal, Checkpoint and the Project Paper) can and should be collaboratively authored. Make sure that the title page of the paper lists all of the coauthors. If you receive help during the project in any signiﬁcant form (including, but not limited to programming, data processing, visualization, editing and proofreading) from any person outside of your project team, please thank this person in the Acknowledgements section. A good guide to proper citation and acknowledgement of source material can be found at http://www.dartmouth.edu/ sources/contents.html If your group is experiencing internal dysfunction - for example, if one person is doing all of the work while the others do nothing - this will inevitably aﬀect the quality of the end product, and everybody’s grades. If your group is not communicating well and not sharing the workload, please talk to me as soon as you can.
Given the fact that collaboration is allowed and encouraged, we will probably never encounter this provision in the course. However, I am obligated to remind you that the GMU functions on the Honor Code system, which means there is a Zero Tolerance policy for plagiarized assignments. In this course, an assignment will be considered plagiarized if it consists of a verbatim copy or simple paraphrase of another student’s assignment - or signiﬁcant use of copied text, data or ﬁgures without proper acknowledgements or citations. An assignment will also be considered plagiarized if you copy research results from a published paper – unless they are presented in a context of critical evaluation and properly cited in the bibliography. This is what the University requires me to say in regards to plagiarism: Any plagiarized assignment will receive an automatic grade of ”F.” This may lead to failure for the course, resulting in dismissal from the university. This dismissal will be noted on the students transcript. For foreign students who are on a university-sponsored visa (e.g. F-1, J-1 or J-2), dismissal also results in the revocation of their visa. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? So, PLEASE CITE YOUR COLLABORATORS!