A network evaluation may consider a range of questions and adopt a variety of options for undertaking the evaluation depending on factors such as the type, size, stage of development and purpose of the network.
Networks may be closed (bound) or open (unbounded), web-based or located within a specified geographic area. Purposes can include information sharing, mutual support, and advocacy for social, economic, environmental or political change.
Using SNA to monitor the evaluation of a research network
(Taken from 52 weeks of BetterEvaluation: Week 8: Using Social Network Analysis for M&E, by Cris Sette)
In this example, the ILAC Initiative used the SNA approach to develop a system for monitoring the evolution of a particular research network, commissioned by a large research program.
The project team developed a survey asking members of a newly formed research network to identify partners with whom they had worked with in the past year or so. The survey also asked if the collaboration (formal or informal) was a consequence of the newly formed research network. The information collected was processed with Excel and the UCINET software.
With the analysis of the data and maps, the project team was able to develop a baseline for supporting the M&E strategy of the research program who commissioned the study.
The characteristic of the network, including the characteristics of its members, their affiliations, disciplines, geographic distribution, areas of work and types of research conducted, to name a few, are likely to evolve with time as a consequence of the adjustments in the research collaboration and outcomes. The research program that commissioned the SNA study will monitor the evolution of the network by applying the same questionnaire and methods, on a periodical basis.
Related BetterEvaluation Option Pages
Network Diagram (Part of the Visualize Data task)
A network diagram is made up of a set of nodes and lines that connect those nodes. Usually a product of social network analysis, a network diagram is the visual display of how people (or other elements) in a network are connected.
This paper from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) focuses on the role of social networks and how analysis of these networks can benefit the groups and organisations within them.
This special edition of New Directions for Evaluation from the American Evaluation Association (AEA) edited by Maryann Durland and Kimberly Fredericks provides nine articles on social network analysis in program evaluation.
The article by Rick Davies was produced for the Communication for Social Change Consortium. It presents an introduction on social network analysis (SNA) and how it was used in M&E practices, in different fields. It also discuss limitations and opportunities of using SNA.
This background note from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) provides a detailed discussion of networks, including a broad definition and a description of their purpose and use.
This is a one-page guide to Social Network Analysis. It provides a brief overview, practical tips for using the technique, and a list of resources for more information.
Netdraw is a free Windows based program that can be used for visualizing social network data.
Network Evaluation. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2017, from http://betterevaluation.org/en/themes/network_evaluation