8.2 Collecting Ego-Centric Data

As you’ll read in our textbook, there are basically two ways to construct ego-centric networks:

  1. Ego-centric networks by design: When a research project is initiated by asking ego-centric questions, ego-centric data are usually directed collecting. For example, when a name generator questionnaire is distributed to a sample of students in a large high school to study in-school friendship of students, each student’s response will be directly used to construct a network.
  2. Derived ego-centric networks: When a complete network can be captured, we can also derive ego-centric networks by filtering network data. For example, if we’re analyzing our own Slack discussions, we can also create an ego-centric network for each one of us to investigate our connectedness in the class.

In either of these conditions, an important decision to make is how you define the neighborhood of the ego-centric network, or how many steps does an ego can reach, as Cook explored in his video. This will again be informed by theories and contextual information you bring to bear. [Decision Point]

What definition of the neighborhood will make sense for your research projects?

8.2.1 “Les Miserables” Example

Below I demonstrate the difference between one-step vs. two-step ego networks using the “Les Miserables” dataset11 we played with earlier. Which type of ego networks would make more sense for analyzing characters in this novel?

First, explore one-step ego networks by choosing or clicking on a node:

Second, two-step ego networks:

  1. Note that the description of models introduced here may not fit the philosophical worldview you feel comfortable with or subscribe to. Refer back to Section @ref{threelevels} for an earlier discussion we had about aligning methodology and philosophical viewpoints.