2.3.1 A Note on Survey Methods

In much of the description above, I resort to describing survey methods for measurement, sampling, and boundary specification in social networks research. As mentioned at the outset of this chapter, I do this only as a convenient shorthand. Many of the principles described here have been most completely developed in the context of survey research. That is not to say that these questions only apply to survey research. Quite the contrary. In fact, each of the considerations raised above (e.g., whether and how to cap alter nominations, strategies for node matching, etc.) are equally applicable to study designs that span any number of primary data gathering formats. In the next chapter, I describe a number of primary formats that have been deployed to gather social network data. What you should keep in mind across each of them is that—even if it may not immediately seem apparent—any of these strategies must grapple with the issues raised in this chapter. As the following chapter illustrates, some of the available platforms for gathering network data have been design to optimize on selected dimensions raised here, and as is often the case with many such decisions of how to focus research, comes with corresponding de-prioritization of others. In practice, when studies do not explicitly deal with these types of decisions, they are implicitly making assumptions about them in ways that could have important unknown influences on the analytic capabilities of their resulting data (Broido and Clauset 2018).