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Dear Socnetters,

I have a couple questions about name generator techniques and network
data between organizations...

We have a group of people who participate in a learning network.  We
want to know who, over time, they interact with in the group itself and
whether these interactions have initiated any additional interactions
with others outside the group.  So we would like for them to be able to
indicate interactions within the group, but also to list any new
contacts they may have made with others outside the group.

1)  Should we provide a list of names of everyone in the group and leave
a fill-in spot for people not on the list? Or...Should we not provide a
list at all and let people freely recall anyone whom they interact with
as a result of being part of the learning network?

We are concerned that if we provide a list and then provide a fill-in
space, that the people on the list will by default appear more central
because it was easier for people to identify them and will hence,
disproportionately misrepresent the prominence of certain people.  We
also wonder if this effect might occur because of the placement of
people on the list as well...those higher on the list will be chosen
more often (which is a problem for us because we want to list the names
alphabetically to help with selection - the list is about 80+ long). 

2)  If the end goal is to gain knowledge of the interactions between
organizations that the people are members of, does it make more sense to
ask people to identify people within each organization and then scale-up
these answers to identify some kind of overall organizational
relationship? If we ask each person to just record their interaction to
the organization at large, we will lose the nuances between different
people within an organization.  Does anyone have advice on the best
approach to representing a relationship to an organization by
delineating the personal ties that exist among its employees to people
outside the organization?

Many thanks for any guidance on these questions!


Danielle M Vogenbeck, PhD
Associate Policy Scientist
RAND Corporation

1776 Main Street 
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310-393-0411 ext. 6438            


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