First steps

1) Start with some introductory texts on Social Network Analysis

Among the general HNR articles in the Bibliography, Scott Weingart’s blog post series “Networks Demystified” and Claire Lemercier’s article “Formal network methods in history” are particularly useful to get you ideas. To get a first idea of Social Network Analysis terminology and concepts, you may find this Cheat Sheet helpful.

A great resource which will help you understand what you can expect from Social Network Analysis is Valdis Krebs’ Network Discovery Matrix.


2) Find answers to these questions:

1. Are you interested in complex relational patterns?
2. Can you find them in your sources?
3. Which types of relationships will you study?
4. How do they relate to each other?
5. What do you expect to find?
6. Is this relevant to your questions?

The “Should I do Social Network Analysis?” flow chart may also help you with these questions.

If you are already working with network visualisations, take a look at Yannick Rochat’s blog post on best practices:

3) Subscribe to the HNR Newsletter and find out what is happening around you


4) Search this site for relevant work and resources and approach people in the field. They’re all happy to help.




5 thoughts on “First steps”

  1. My name is lanre Babajide and i am a computer scientist. To be precise, i have a degree in computer science from the University of Ibadan and i live in Nigeria. I am interested in artificial intelligence, data analysis and most especially network theory.
    I will like to contribute to the knowledge of how social network theory can be used for historical research as the unique blend of computational/mathematical knowledge and historical knowledge is interesting to me.
    I will like to share ideas and opinions with anyone in this site as in the 21st century, i beleive interdisciplinary research is the way forward. So i will be glad if anyone can get in touch with me

  2. I am Sebastian Zeki. I am a gastroenterologist in the NHS. I am particularly interested in the history of network structures within large organisations such as my own to get a grasp on what has and hasn’t worked in the past to guide future directions. I would love to join your group as I think historical social network analysis could provide insight into better working practices within my field

    1. Hi Sebastian, many thanks for your interest in HNR. I am not sure I completely understand what you mean by “what has and hasn’t worked in the past” (feel free to elaborate) but there are a few generic pointers I can give: Heiner Fangerau and Matthis Krischel work on networks in the history of medicine and there is quite a lot of work done on social networks in organisations – search for “organisational network analysis”, also Rob Cross’ work might be a good starting point.

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Network analysis in the historical disciplines