Key considerations and challenges in social‐network research

Attempts to better understand the social context of environmental decisions has led to increased interest in human social networks and network analysis. Research on social networks can be incredibly valuable for conservation. It can assist with identifying stakeholders affected by conservation decisions or social networks crucial for resource mobilisation or knowledge generation and distribution. It can also improve our understanding of the type and level of collaboration needed and the role particular networks play in shaping individual behaviour. Yet there are problems with application.

Our review led by Dr Angela Guerrero-Gonzalez examines an application of this method in 55 studies published from January 2016 to June 2019. The results reveal that 19 (~35%) studies contained analytical, methodological, or theoretical problems. They include an application of methods inadequate or sensitive to incomplete network data, application of statistical approaches that ignore dependency in the network, as well as a lack of connection between the theoretical base, research question, and choice of analytical techniques. To improve the use of social‐network analysis we draw attention to these specific areas of concern and highlight research frontiers and challenges.

For more information read the study:
Guerrero, A. M., Barnes, M., Bodin, Ö., Chadès, I., Davis, K. J., Iftekhar, M. S., Morgans C. and Wilson, K. A. 2020. Key considerations and challenges in the application of social-network research for environmental decision making. Conservation Biology. doi:10.1111/cobi.13461