Validity issues in the use of social network analysis with digital trace data

James Howison, Andrea Wiggins, Kevin Crowston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


There is an exciting natural match between social network analysis methods and the growth of data sources produced by social interactions via information technologies, from online communities to corporate information systems. Information Systems researchers have not been slow to embrace this combination of method and data. Such systems increasingly provide "digital trace data" that provide new research opportunities. Yet digital trace data are substantively different from the survey and interview data for which network analysis measures and interpretations were originally developed. This paper examines 10 validity issues associated with the combination of digital trace data and social network analysis methods, with examples from the IS literature, to provide recommendations for improving the validity of future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-797
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Systems
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2011


  • Digital trace data
  • Methods
  • Social network analysis
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications


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