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How students’ friendship network affects their GPA ranking: A data-driven approach linking friendship with daily behaviour

Yongli Li (School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China) (School of Business Administration, Northeastern University, Shenyang, China)
Sihan Li (INGENIO (CSIC-Universitat Politècnica de València), Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia, Spain)
Chuang Wei (School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)
Jiaming Liu (School of Management and Economics, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Beijing, China)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 5 August 2019

Issue publication date: 9 March 2020




Due to the unintentional or even the intentional mistakes arising from a survey, the purpose of this paper is to present a data-driven method for detecting students’ friendship network based on their daily behaviour data. Based on the detected friendship network, this paper further aims to explore how the considered network effects (i.e. friend numbers (FNs), structural holes (SHs) and friendship homophily) influence students’ GPA ranking.


The authors collected the campus smart card data of 8,917 sophomores registered in one Chinese university during one academic year, uncovered the inner relationship between the daily behaviour data with the friendship to infer the friendship network among students, and further adopted the ordered probit regression model to test the relationship between network effects with GPA rankings by controlling several influencing variables.


The data-driven approach of detecting friendship network is demonstrated to be useful and the empirical analysis illustrates that the relationship between GPA ranking and FN presents an inverted “U-shape”, richness in SHs positively affects GPA ranking, and making more friends within the same department will benefit promoting GPA ranking.


The proposed approach can be regarded as a new information technology for detecting friendship network from the real behaviour data, which is potential to be widely used in many scopes. Moreover, the findings from the designed empirical analysis also shed light on how to improve GPA rankings from the angle of network effect and further guide how many friends should be made in order to achieve the highest GPA level, which contributes to the existing literature.



This research was supported by the research grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71771041 and 71501032).


Li, Y., Li, S., Wei, C. and Liu, J. (2020), "How students’ friendship network affects their GPA ranking: A data-driven approach linking friendship with daily behaviour", Information Technology & People, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 535-553.



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