Social network is a social structure made up of many actors, for example firms, or people which are all tied up in relationships, connections, or interactions(1). The social network perspective is made up to employ the structure of a social group, how they interact with each other, how this structure has an influence on other variables and how it changes as time passes. What is Social Networking Analysis?
Social network analysis is the mapping and measuring of all the factors that make up the social network, it is the measuring of relationships and flows between people, groups, organizations, computers, URL, and other connected information entries(3). The nodes in the network are represented as people and the links show their direct relationships with each other. To have deeper understanding of networks and their participants , we evaluate the location of actors in the network which basically means finding the centrality of a node .
These measures give us insight into the various roles and groupings in a network — who are the connectors, mavens, leaders, bridges, isolates, where are the clusters and who is in them, who is in the core of the network, and who is on the periphery? In order to evaluate and understand these networks and the relationships between their actors we use social network analysis tools. We will be discussing three different SNA tools, compare between them, talk about their main features, and their pros and cons. UCINET: Features:
UCINET is one of the top software packages used for analyzing social network data, it is a downloadable software program that can read and write social network data files, and it is primarily used in academic environments and also by consultants that have developed customized versions of the software to suit their specific need(5). Net draw is a program that accompanies UCINET upon download and is used to read and display network visualizations, not only that but the UCINET file formats are compatible and can be used with a number of other analysis and visualization platforms.
Pros: UCINET comes with many advantages, it has significant compatibility to import data from many different files format, including excel , it also supports more complex types of network analysis and the accompanying tool Net draw is able to handle very large files. Finally it is compatible like stated above with many different visualization platforms. Cons: The disadvantages of UCINET start off with the fact that is more difficult to use it with the simple social network analysis tasks as it is intended to be used with the more sophisticated types of network.
Online help resources also seem intended for the more experienced, sophisticated types of audience as one must have prior knowledge of the software in order to follow. Net draw’s visualization does not allow formatting of output of data also during viewing of the social network it is difficult to filter data. Nit miner: Features: Net Miner is a premium software tool for Exploratory Analysis and Visualization of Network Data(4). The tool allows you to explore your network data visually and interactively, and helps you to detect underlying patterns and structures of the network.
The tool is intended to handle large amounts of data and enables the user to conduct both simple and more advanced types of analysis, including a number of statistical procedures. The data generated from Net miner can be visualized based on several different types of network visualization and algorithms and statistical results can be charted using graphs which shows that the data produced can be easily interpreted into many outputs. As you can tell Net miner is a very user friendly type of tool and also statistically powerful, it is suitable for a large range of audiences including, corporate, academic, and general consumer use.
Pros: As stated before Net miner is very user friendly, it comes packed with a convenient and intuitive user interface which provides as a nice advantage for less experienced types of users? The user support is another strong area as help files are provided into the platform as well as documentation on how to use the product which can be found online on the publisher’s website. It is also good for use with the more advanced types of users as it features advanced functionality to conduct multiple types of statistical analyses and visualizations.
Cons: One of the few drawbacks though of Net miner which may come as a surprise since its user friendliness, is the fact, that it requires at the very least a basic understanding of technical sophistication and some familiarity with social networking Visone: Features: Visone is a long-term research project (team), in which models and algorithms are used to integrate and advance the analysis and visualization of social networks that are being developed(6).
The most significant feature of Visone is the design and implementation of a software tool intended for research and teaching in social network analysis. It is specifically designed to allow experts and novices alike to apply innovative and advanced visual methods with ease and accuracy. The main features of the Visone software tool is its interactive analysis and visualization of social networks which proves useful as it is used for the research and teaching of social network analysis. The Visone is also capable of being used through JAVA and can also be downloaded or used via the web.
Visone enables the user to run multiple types of visualization based on common scientific algorithms, users can also calculate metrics based on social network data. Visone is commonly used in academic environments; it is also suitable for a wider audience because it is more affordable and easier to use than most academic platforms with similar functionality. Pros: Visone comes packed with a very clean looking and intuitive interface; it is user friendly and helps out the less experienced users to be able to get access to complex tools.
Its advanced capabilities to output multiple types of visualizations are also one of its strongpoints. Cons: Visone main drawbacks comes down to the fact that there is a lack of help files integrated within the software therefore it is difficult for user who are inexperienced to be able to carry out tasks which they aren’t familiar with. Support doesn’t only fall short in here it’s online user’s manual to conducting analyses is not comprehensive and other online software documentation is difficult to navigate.
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