***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** A few others have pointed out the origin of the name generator technique, such as Coleman, Laumann and Wellman. If you are interested in Laumann's instrument, you can find it from his journal article (in one of the footnote). Fischer's approach is also very important and need to be mentioned here. Laumann, E. O., & Pappi, F. U. (1973). New Directions in the Study of Community Elites. American Sociological Review, 38(2), 212-230. Fischer, C. S. (1982). To Dwell Among Friends: Personal Networks in Town and City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. In my opinion, the "name generator",as the name describing this technique, came to light when Burt used the "important matters" question in the General Social Survey. Here are the three articles detailing the development of the question, and how it was used. Burt, R. S. (1984). Network Items in the General Social Survey. Social Networks, 6(4), 293-339. Burt, R. S. (1985). General Social Survey Network Items. Connections, 8, 119-123. Marsden, P. V. (1987). Core Discussion Networks of Americans. American Sociological Review, 52(1), 122-131. Note that some researchers (such as Fischer) prefer using multiple questions to elicit social ties in one's personal networks than using just one question. See Marsden (2003) and Marin and Hampton (2007) for more details. Marsden, P. V. (2003). Interviewer effects in measuring network size using a single name generator. [doi: DOI: 10.1016/S0378-8733(02)00009-6]. Social Networks, 25(1), 1-16. As you could imagine, the difference in wording (i.e. the criteria of the personal network of interest) would lead research participants to report different types of social ties. Comparing generated personal networks across studies may be difficult. One of the first study that seeks to find out whether there is any commonalty between different name generators is Campbell and Lee (1991). Campbell, K. E., & Lee, B. A. (1991). Name generators in surveys of personal networks. [doi: DOI: 10.1016/0378-8733(91)90006-F]. Social Networks, 13(3), 203-221. Finally, to the original question, I think it is nice to be able to find some benchmark from UK's Government Statistical Service, and say something about how good your results are. But I don't think "direct" comparison is necessary or appropriate. My main concern is the original wording of the question. Strictly speaking, it is a "triple-barrel" question: it asked respondents to recall and report three different types of social ties. And respondents only answered the question once. If you break down the question and ask respondents to report these three types of social ties separately (i.e. Fischer's approach), you will definitely obtain a larger personal network size. See Hlebec et al (2006). for an recent example. Hlebec, V., Manfreda, K. L., & Vehovar, V. (2006). The social support networks of internet users. New Media & Society, 8(1), 9-32. Hope this helps, Patrick _____________________________________________________________________ SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.