Triangulating Social Network Data & Comparing Modalities

Social network surveys generally take an approach that primarily relies either on face-to-face, phone, or web based interactions (Perry, Pescosolido, and Borgatti 2018).61 Some scholars have chosen to implement different data collection approaches with each member of a study population as a means to assess what information is jointly provided across each approach, compared to what is complementarily provided uniquely within each approach, analogous to triangulation in other research methods (Wald 2014). Alternatively, rather than using multiple modalities to gather data from the same members of a population, other studies have chosen to combine data where each respondent was offered only one of the possible modalities. This combination allowed for maximal sampling reach in a study of clergy networks and health (Eagle and Proeschold-Bell 2015). Typically, survey modality has been shown to shape the nature of responses for the measurement of a variety of concepts (Bowling 2005). However, Eagle and Proeschold-Bell (2015) found relatively similar personal network size and kin composition across phone, mail and web-based surveys.