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Facets of DREaM: A social network analysis exploring network development in the UK LIS research community

Louise Cooke (Department of Information Science, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Hazel Hall (Centre for Social Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 14 October 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to review the value of social network analysis (SNA) as a method appropriate to LIS research. SNA is used to investigate the effectiveness of a framework of methods adopted by the DREaM project to develop researcher-practitioner networks.

Design/methodology/approach

Following a review of the literature on SNA, the paper reports longitudinal research from a whole population sample of the DREaM cadre of LIS researchers. Data were collected using a questionnaire at the start of the first DREaM project workshop, and at the final workshop. Data were analysed using Ucinet 6 software, and network diagrams were visualised using the Netdraw package.

Findings

Findings demonstrate that the combination of linked workshops and use of social media throughout the DREaM project was successful in increasing the density of the researcher networks, forging new connections among participants. SNA was found to be a useful technique in investigating network development.

Research limitations/implications

There is scope for further longitudinal research to investigate the sustainability and strength of the new network links forged.

Originality/value

The use of SNA in the context of the development of researcher networks is novel in LIS research. The findings from this project indicate the potential of the DREaM methodology as a replicable framework for developing further research networks in other contexts. This paper represents a unique contribution in demonstrating through the use of SNA the extent of the extension of research networks afforded by the DREaM methodology.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Library and Information Science (LIS) Research Coalition. The AHRC provided funding to Edinburgh Napier University for the Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project, and the project benefited from the support of the member bodies of the LIS Research Coalition. They are also grateful to Professor Charles Oppenheim for his contribution to the work of the DREaM project, and his constructive feedback on an earlier draft of this paper.

Citation

Cooke, L. and Hall, H. (2013), "Facets of DREaM: A social network analysis exploring network development in the UK LIS research community", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 69 No. 6, pp. 786-806. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-09-2012-0124

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited