As they say in radioland, long-time lurker, first-time poster.

My 8th-grade son is planning to use SNA in his science fair project (with
his father's encouragement and advice but with clear boundaries about who
actually is doing the work).  He wants to analyze and compare friendship
networks in grades 4 through 7 at his school (n=240).  I can point him to
appropriate literature, and any specific recommendations would be helpful.

My real question is methodological--how to set up the study in a way that an
8th grader can execute it.  I have advised him to gather data using
photocopies of class pictures, and to ask each student to draw a circle
around himself and around each of his friends.  The problem is defining
"friends" in a neutral way that avoids hurting anyone's feelings (the human
subjects committee is the nun who is principal at the school).  My son
thinks his friends are the people he has lunch with or meets on the yard or
after school.  That sounds like a good neutral definition to me, likely to
capture a snapshot of cliques, and something that can be readily understood
by gradeschoolers.  But I wonder if anyone else has any ideas?


Joseph W. Doherty
Associate Director
Empirical Research Group
UCLA School of Law
voice 310-206-2675
fax 310-206-6489
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