Our paper “Co-Citation of Prominent Social Network Articles: The Evolving Can” was published by Connections in their current issue. You can download a copy from my publications page at Maxwell.
Social network analysis has been a particularly hot area across the social (and some non-social) sciences. How has this growth, in turn, affected the field of social network analysis within sociology, the discipline which has served as the primary home of social network analysis over the last several decades? In order to answer this question, we examined the citation patterns of the social network papers in the two leading general sociology journals, the American Sociological Review and the American Journal of Sociology, from 1990-2005, focusing on the body of literature that was cited by at least two social network papers in a given year. We produced two network snapshots of the social network canon during this period. These analyses reveal a combination of great change and substantial continuity. There was a substantial increase in interest in social networks in sociology throughout this period, and, in particular, an enormous rise in interest in small world issues, coupled with the abrupt entry of mathematicians and physicists into the sociology social network canon. However, during this entire period Granovetter’s work remained squarely at the center of the canon, with Granovetter (1973) as the most cited piece at both the earlier and later snapshots.
Abstract: Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of interest in
network research across the physical and social sciences. For social
scientists, the theory of networks has been a gold mine, yielding
explanations for social phenomena in a wide variety of disciplines from
psychology to economics. Here, we review the kinds of things that social
scientists have tried to explain using social network analysis and provide
a nutshell description of the basic assumptions, goals, and explanatory
mechanisms prevalent in the field. We hope to contribute to a dialogue
among researchers from across the physical and social sciences who share a
common interest in understanding the antecedents and consequences of
*  Network Analysis in the Social Sciences, Stephen P. Borgatti, Ajay
Mehra, Daniel J. Brass, Giuseppe Labianca, 2009/02/13, DOI:
10.1126/science.1165821, Science Vol. 323. no. 5916, pp. 892 – 895 
Together with Timothy Huerta, Texas Tech University, and Jennifer van Stelle, Stanford University, I have written a paper on “How do networkers network?”. We conducted a study of participants at the annual conference of INSNA (International Network of Social Network Analysts) to understand how young researchers are introduced into the community of senior researchers. The paper is work in progress at the moment and we would like to hear your comments, especially on our methodology.
You can find the paper in our working paper series (Working Paper # PNG07-005) and an abstract here:
This study was conceived during the 2005 INSNA conference by attendees who were interested in the evolving patterns of relationships among social network academics and consultants, and in how junior researchers were being integrated into the existing community. The study was also intended as a session- and space-planning aid for the 2006 conference organizers. Specifically, this paper describes a study of networking among social network professionals who attended the 2005 INSNA (International Network for Social Network Analysis) “Sunbelt” Conference. The attendees were asked to respond to two rounds of surveys regarding their experiences. We obtained data on existing and new ties in the first round of the survey, and tracked the maintenance or decay of those ties in the second round (approximately nine months later). We employ homophily arguments as well as theories of status and career/life cycle to determine what factors led to the establishment of ties from interactions at the conference. We consider the content of the new ties in addition to the above-mentioned theories to understand why such ties decayed or were maintained in the post-conference period. As well as applying the results of this study to the understanding of social network dynamics, we hope our findings will further the integration of new members into the existing community and enhance the session-scheduling and space-utilization aspects of conference planning.
During the last three weeks, I have attended two different conferences – both focused entirely on (Social) Networks: First, I went to Greece to attend the International Conference for Social Network Analysts (main audience/attendance: social scientists) and I am currently blogging from the NetScience conference in New York in the Hall of Science (main audience: scientists).
I talked to a lot of people and listend to a lot of talks at both conferences and I noticed a couple of interesting things:
Researchers in all fields, natural and social sciences are working on (social) networks and within their specific fields they are located in a very specific niche within their own discipline. This is reflected for example in the fact, that a lot of researchers feel obligated to explain what a social network is and what the definition of concepts such as centrality are.
The basic concepts and analysis methods are the same across all disciplines, but we all use different language to describe what we are doing.
Researchers in different fields have different needs for analyzing and visualizing their network data and those who have the abilities to do so are creating/programming their own visualization and analysis tools or libraries. This seems to be an exploding area and I see a potential to synchronize the different needs and tools across disciplines.
Academic disciplines on (social) network research are largely disconnected and innovation is occurring within the disciplines, but usually not across disciplines. It seems as if the wheel is reinvented, but because academic disciplines are isolated and siloed the overall network science field is extremely innovative for its specific audiences.