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
Empirical Research Group
UCLA School of Law
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