Welcome to Introduction to Social Network Analysis

Currently, this is the homepage for the Introduction to Social Network Analysis in Active Living Workshop. As we continue to improve our workshop the contents of this page and the pages to follow may change. If we remove information that you found helpful please do not hesitate to contact Tyler.


Social network analysis (SNA) is a theoretical framework and set of methodologies growing in popularity, specifically in health behavior settings. Simply put, SNA gives researchers and practitioners a way to analyze connections within systems. Further, SNA helps answer unique research questions relating to health behaviors and outcomes among individuals, organizations, and communities. For example, SNA could be used to analyze the impact of collaborative ties between organizations in a health coalition; how friendship ties between adolescents at a summer care program impact physical activity; or network properties related to body dissatisfaction among a college sorority.

This workshop serves as an introduction to the theory and methods used in SNA. We will cover theoretical premise, survey methods, and interpretation of network data to provide a broad overview of what is possible when applying SNA in health research. Successful participants will be able to develop an understanding of SNA in order to answer new research questions and apply it to their own research or practice. No prior knowledge of SNA or data analysis is required. Case studies and discussion will be used to further enhance application of these methods in real-life settings.

Learning Objectives

After this workshop, participants will be able to…

  • Recognize and understand social network terms and theoretical premise when used in research.

  • Explain how social network analysis can be used to answer research questions.

  • Determine if social network analysis theory or methods can be used in projects they are/will be working on.

Interactive Features

There will be three main interactive features presented within this workshop:

  1. Personal Network Activity – Participants will be guided through a personal network data collection process to better understand what this data can represent.

  2. Centrality Activity - Participants will play a hybrid telephone / murder mystery game to further understand the impacts and constraints of centrality within a whole network. (Not included in virtual workshop versions)

  3. Group Case Study – Participants will be split into groups and given a research setting (e.g. a health coalition, network of online gamers) and will explore possible research questions using network properties. Participants will discuss data collection and frame analyses to perform.

Tentative Schedule

HousekeepingInstructor introduction learn about participants goals
SNA Theory and DesignHistory of SNA, theoretical background, research design
Personal Network and Centrality ActivitiesHands on application of personal and whole network principles
Data Collection and ManagementOverview of collecting and managing network data
Group Case StudyParticipants will be given real settings and discuss which designs/questions can be used/answered
DebriefParticipants will be briefed on resources to learn more and given a list of next steps