Research on Social Network Sites

UPDATE: This page is out-of-date. An updated list can be found here:

Research on Social Network Sites

Thank you!

I want to track down everyone who is actively doing research on social network sites. (Clarification: i’m looking for folks that are publishing in peer-reviewed spaces, not just researching for their company or blog.) Nicole Ellison and i are plotting to bring ways to bring everyone together. I’m also looking to create a list of all known publications. I know there’s more than what i’m listing so i need your help. Please!

Publications and Presentations

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62 thoughts on “Research on Social Network Sites

  1. David Brake

    Would research into (for example) LiveJournal users count insofar as they are using the software as social network software? In which case you should probably count me in. I haven’t published yet but I am getting closer…

  2. Ben Metcalfe

    Hi danah

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic but reading through your list it suddenly struck me that there are many many industry-relevant academic publications that pass the industry by and don’t get the attention they deserve.

    I personally read very academic publications, purely because I’m simply not aware of them.

    Do you know of any resources that track, monitor and collate industry-related academic publicatons?

    And if not, do you think such a service could be mutually beneficial for both industry and academia?

    All the best,

  3. Nicole Ellison

    Another definitional issue: what about online dating sites? I don’t see them as social network sites per se although they share many of the same characteristics (extensive profiles, ability to communication with others on the site) because a. they are more limited in the kinds of communication they support and b. they don’t enable any kind of social triangulation (ie testimonials, ratings, links to friends, etc.). That said, I’d be curious about what others think. On a side note, I think incorporating these features into online dating sites could address some of the concerns o.d. participants have about misrepresentation.

  4. andrea

    hey danah – i’ve been advising an undergrad named Anne Hewitt on a facebook research project. We just had a poster accepted to CSCW… hopefully a full paper in a few months. πŸ˜‰ traveling right now, but the final 2-pager will be on my website in a couple weeks…

  5. Alina Stefanescu

    John Deighton at Harvard recently gave an interview about MySpace, so I assume this is a research interest for him.

  6. Kurt

    Hey Danah and other readers,

    Are you considering work related sites? I’ve been meaning to try to write a journal article about this kind of thing, but in more structured environments like on research ships or at NASA Mission Control centers. Are there other folks out there that are interested in the social/technical networking aspect for work settings?


  7. zephoria

    I am very interested in people doing work on related topics but the list that i’m trying to compile is those who are looking explicitly at the social network sites that have emerged since Ryze. I believe that there’s a lot of connections to dating sites, blogging, LJ, tagging sites, photo/video sharing sites, MMORPGs, etc. and i would strongly encourage those doing such work to put it in the comments for others to see when they look at this page. I also know that there are people building their own systems and that’s great but also out of the scope for the list i’m trying to build right here. Personally, for this list, i really want to collect the narrow band. I know that there are others out there studying what is happening on Friendster, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, QQ, Cyworld, Piczo, Bebo, … I want to know who these people are because all too often, academia is such that we don’t know who is also doing work on the precise site that we’re studying. While there are theoretical and methodological axes that bring the broader community together, sometimes, knowing who is looking at the detailed nuances of the same site as you is super valuable.

    Concerning Nicole and my plot, we will do an open call when we get our plotting together and it will have more wiggle room than the list that i’m compiling here.

    [Ben – no, i know of no such thing. That’s why i have to ask these kinds of questions here.]

  8. zephoria

    Kurt – do you mean you’re looking at LinkedIn or Spoke or that you’re thinking about how social networks apply to business? The former would definitely fit into the scope of this but the latter is far too broad.

    For those studying LJ, i strongly recommend connecting with other researchers at: – there is an amazing collection of scholars that gather at LJ to talk about LJ… I wish this were more common elsewhere.

  9. paolo

    I would like to let you know about some more papers published in peer-reviewed spaces and researchers you might want to consider for inclusion. My papers are at the end so that it looks a little bit less like self-promotion! πŸ˜‰

    # Cai-Nicolas Ziegler (trust metrics, recommender systems,,
    A lot of papers you can find at

    # Jennifer Golbeck (trust metrics, recommender systems, filmtrust)
    A lot of papers you can find at

    # Ramanathan V.Guha (trust networks, distrust, open rating systems,
    [and also his coauthors: Ravi Kumar, Prabhakar Raghavan, Andrew Tomkins]
    Propagation of Trust and Distrust (2004)
    Open Rating Systems (2003)

    # Raph Levien (trust metrics, attack-resistance, creator of, though he seems to have stopped working on these topics)
    Attack Resistant Trust Metrics (dormient phd thesis at as well as a published paper.

    # I consider Ebay as a social network site: users have a profile page showing their activity, they can be contacted and, more importantly, it is possible to express what you think of them (positive/neutral/negative feedback), so that basically you have a social network of what people think of each others and very interesting social dynamics can be analyzed.
    If you agree that Ebay is a social network site as well, there are lots of papers and researchers analyzing Ebay’s feedback patterns. Most notable one is in my opinions Paul Resnick but I can indicate many more of papers and researchers dealing with this “social” topic.

    # Finally myself and my papers πŸ˜‰
    Paolo Massa (local/global trust metrics, recommender systems, controversiality,
    My dormient Blog (hopefully it will wake up soon!):
    You can find my papers at , below there are some of the relevant ones about social network sites
    “Trust-aware Bootstrapping of Recommender Systems”
    “Page-reRank: using trusted links to re-rank authority”
    “Controversial Users demand Local Trust Metrics: an Experimental Study on Community”
    “Trust-aware Collaborative Filtering for Recommender Systems”
    “A Survey of Trust Use and Modeling in Current Real Systems”

    I also send you via email the bibliography of my PhD thesis and of “A Survey of Trust Use and Modeling in Current Real Systems” in which there are few more papers that might be considered.

  10. Bob Filipczak

    This may not be on the mark. I’m working on a white paper on social networking as a learning technology for Capella University. It is not a quantitative study. It’s more about reviewing the academic research, interviewing some experts, drawing some conclusions and writing the whole thing up in an interesting way.

  11. david silver

    hey danah!

    i haven’t published on this subject but i’ve been involved in a number of class-based projects with facebook. when i taught basic concepts of new media at uw-seattle, my students and i used facebook as sort of a laboratory. we let loose with a number of interesting pedagogical experiments and learned a lot – about facebook, about social networking, and about college students. one group project created a user feedback cycle with the folks at facebook.

    if you make a list, please include me!

  12. Marcela

    Thanks for putting the list together. Still working on the getting published part since most of my social networking “research” has been on my own time, but if you extend this to mobile would recommend Lee Humphreys, who’s presenting stuff at ICA on Dodgeball,, and a couple of other mobile social sites, from U-Penn’s Annenberg School.

  13. Kurt Schwehr

    I was thinking more about custom tools that are currently only available on sight and often not even internet accessable (on ships). LinkedIn is definitely interesting. I have been thinking more small scale about things that get smaller groups to work better together (like 50-200 or so people). So maybe not what you are aiming for, but I see using what what your research is focusing on to improve these special cases.

  14. Julie

    Wow, what a great list! I’m just starting an MA paper on SN sites (maybe MySpace as a generator of social capital?) and these links are definitely helpful. Thanks!

  15. mareza larizadeh

    hi danah,

    i am one of the founders of doostang. in case you haven’t heard about us, doostang is an invite only professional network. launched in june 2005 we have grown to 50,000 members, mostly graduates from top schools and mba programs. companies that have successfully hired from doostang include goldman sachs, morgan stanley, ta associates, bessemer venture partners, draper fisher jurvetson, disney, mtv, google, etc.

    happy to answer any questions you may have. please feel free to email me at mareza at doostang dot com…

    my best,


  16. Ali

    Hi Danah,

    My group is putting together a new social networking platform that comes with a unique twist. We have done quite a bit of research on networks (social and business), which I’ll be happy to share with you off-line.



  17. Joe Sanchez

    Hi Danah,
    I am a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin. I have two active IRBs focusing on the role of Social Networking Software and Organizational Learning and a Socail Networking in the classroom

  18. molly

    Heya danah,

    (You know this already but I’m adding it to the list).

    At the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, I was the associate professor leading the Connected Communities research group. I led and conducted research on a number of things directly and indirectly related to social networking sites. I taught a course with two colleagues on designing for networks of people and several students created innovative social network sites. Projects from the class are here:

    I started researching iTunes and identity in closed networks when I was at Ivrea. The paper was accepted to Wonderland in Portugal but I don’t think I can attend. I will send you the paper if you’re interested.

    Currently, I’m working on infrastructural networks and a history of mobility in architecture as a part of my history/theory masters at the Yale School of Architecture. I’m looking to apply this to current urban-scale locative media projects and mobility projects. I also research south India and mobile phone sharing in an attempt to understand collective behavior.

  19. Nicole Simon

    It would also be nice to list if this is supposed to be for research on which culture / language.

    Unless stated otherwise, I would assume US and english centric. πŸ™‚

  20. zephoria

    The question is not meant to be US or English-specific. I’d *LOVE* to find research on QQ, Mixi, Cyworld, Hi-5, etc. The only non-English research i’ve included is Raquel’s work on Orkut which is in Portuguese. It’s the only one listed because it’s the only one i know about.

    Nicole, do you know work being done in other languages?

  21. eszter

    My research is increasingly focusing on younger users and I collect large-scale data on the use of such sites. In my upcoming study, I also expect to gather more data (both quantitative and qualitative) on students’ uses of such sites.

    Regarding Nicole’s comment about dating sites, I think it’s an interesting one. Students in my classes have brought this up as an issue. It may depend on the type of dating site. A site like eHarmony where you can’t search the database (you are assigned matches) probably doesn’t qualify so well as an SNS, however, a site like Nerve that has a lot of interaction among users (including users who are not even potential matches based on their sexuality preferences) would suggest that it could well be considered a social-networking site.

    This brings up another issue. When asking younger users whether they use dating or matchmaking sites, few tend to say they do. However, it seems that they use sites like Facebook for precisely such purposes (among others) so there are methodological challenges in how one studies such uses.

  22. Nicole Ellison

    Thanks for pointing out the SN aspects of Nerve- it had been a while since I’d checked it out. I would love to hear more about how these features (such as viewing network and testimonials) impact user concerns about misrepresentation. I haven’t seen any research on this.
    Also: regarding your point about younger users shunning online dating sites and instead using sites like Facebook for meeting new people: our recent survey of MSU undergraduate students suggests that students are not using facebook primarily to meet new people, but rather to articulate relationships with people in their existing offline network, or to find out more information about someone with whom they share some offline connection (e.g. a shared class). So, in a sense they are using it to turn a latent tie into a weak tie, but it doesn’t seem as though they are surfing around FB and then trying to arrange an offline meeting with people they see. I’d be happy to send you a copy of our revised paper on this if you’re interested. I agree with your point about methods, and would argue our conception of what it means to “meet” someone online needs to be more refined in order to better communicate these differences in use.

  23. gen kanai

    danah, you may want to try to find any Japanese researchers who are doing research on Japanese SNSes, like or

    Mixi just IPOed today on the MOTHERS market (not the JASDAQ, not the Tokyo Stock Exchange, but a smaller market) and the valuation is now around US $2 billion.

  24. Rob Dolin

    Hey Danah, et. al., I have some tracking data friend counts of for political groups (mostly Young Democrats of America) on Myspace, Facebook, and Windows Live Spaces. If folks are interested, please ping me offline robdolin [at] wuxx [dot] com. Thanks–

  25. eszter

    Nicole, thanks for the response. When I referred to the use of Facebook for dating purposes, I didn’t necessarily mean that people were meeting complete strangers. It’s more as you describe it: they use the service to learn a bit more about and possibly get in touch with people with whom they already share some sort of tie. The underlying purpose may be for dating, but this may not be that overt.

  26. Aleks

    danah – I contacted you about this call when you first posted it, but because you weren’t looking at social virtual worlds I never came back. Now I see it’s a thriving resource for virtual social network researchers and I feel left out!

    My own research is examining the diffusion of innovations through the social networks of an online world, Second Life. I’m using social network analysis as part of the data gathering process.

    I’m very interested if anyone can point towards research which follows the diffusion of innovations through online social networks – I’m thinking here of plug-ins via MySpace networks, for example. I’m sure I heard of something like this once in my travels, but have lost the mental link as to where it may be.

    For my part, I’m a PhD student at the University of Surrey. Website:


  27. Leon

    Hi Dana,

    I am currently working on a couple of research projects on Myspace.

    Tan, Leon (2006). Virtual Living in Mixed Realities. Journal of the NZ Association of Psychotherapists. Auckland: NZAP (Forthcoming)

    The other is based on blog analysis and open ended interviews with Myspace bloggers following the thematic of blogging as an iteration of the writing cure.

    I’d like to keep in touch with this group.



  28. jim craine

    what a great source of information – I’m teaching a Geography of Media grad seminar at CSUN in the Spring with a semester-long MySpace project included and hopes for a series of journal articles resulting from the research – tis really adds to my reading list – would love to have you give a guest lecture if you’re around (stipend included!!)

  29. Dara N. Byrne

    Hi danah,

    I’ve been researching the racially dedicated sites by Community Connect Inc (BlackPlanet, AsianAvenue, MiGente) for about 7 years now. I thought I’d submit some stuff to you as I notice there are few items here that connect with race/ethnicity and there appear to be none that are about those ‘for us by us’ sites. Hope this helps.

    (forthcoming). The Future of (the) ‘Race’: Identity, Discourse and the Rise of Computer-mediated Public Spheres. In MacArthur Foundation Book Series and Everett, A. (Eds.), Race and ethnicity. m.s. 40pp.

    “Languaging Ethnic Divides in Virtual Communities.” Southwest Texas Popular Culture Association Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 2002.

    “Communicating Techno-Ethnicity: Visiting the Virtual Homeland in Minority Based Websites.” Visual Communication Conference: Rhetorics and Technologies, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, April 2001

  30. Tom

    Did you manage to get in touch with those mysterious Japanese researchers? I’m a researcher in Japan and, while my own research is more on the real-world applications of social networks, some colleagues are reseaching SN sites.

  31. Cathy Dwyer

    I have a paper in HICSS 2007, a summary of qualitative research describing how subjects engage in relationships within social networking sites:

    “Digital Relationships in the ‘MySpace’ Generation:
    Results From a Qualitative Study, Proceedings of HICSS 2007

  32. biyectivo


    Thanks a lot for your list, it is awesome. I will post articles if i find them, I am beginning research on blogging and social networking services right now and I will be more than happy to share articles I find. I have access to some good online databases at my school so I will keep you posted.

    Thanks again!

  33. Rob Nyland

    I recently presented a few papers at conferences about social networking sites.

    The first I presented at the Far West Popular Culture Association conference in Las Vegas. It is a little bit more theoretical, discussing the commercial implications of social networking sites:

    The other two papers, I presented recently at the Midwinter AEJMC conference in Reno. The first discusses the relationship between feelings of social involvement and social networking use:

    While the second addresses religiosity as a mediating variable in the use of these sites:

    There is a good chance that the content of these might change as I prepare them for the national conference. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

  34. Thomas J.

    Hello Everyone,

    danah, I must say this was a wonderful idea. I’m currently starting my MA thesis (and pondering upon ideas for a PhD), and well, all I can say is that this is a true goldmine – both in terms of current research on Social Networking, and in terms of contacts. I thoroughly enjoy collaborative brainstorming and true teamwork (which Social Networking almost implicitly calls for), but find that oftentimes it’s difficult to find individuals who specialize in our area of interest within the vastness of various departments of sociology or communications.

    I’m wondering if you’ve started a listserv / Google group as it looks like we could all use one – if not, I’d be more than happy to put it together [if interested, please email me at tj/at/].

    As for my own interests, I’m generally interested in social dynamics, progression of and lapses in social proximity and ‘reality’ of experience in SN/MMORPGs/MMPG/VR (ie typical MUD vs. FaceBook vs. Battle.Net vs. Second Life), issues of privacy and commoditization of identity. Insofar as my thesis is concerned, I’ll be looking more closely about the notions of ‘solitude’ online – limitations of {interaction, construction of identity, privacy concerns, technology, etc}.

    And of course, I promise to be posting links here as soon as I delve into some core research in this area!

    Thomas Jankowski /
    [Affil: Univ. of Toronto (Canada), Univ. of Sunderland (UK)]

  35. Sean Twomey


    I am in my Marketing honors year at the University of Cape Town (South Africa). My group is doing research into the Social Network Websites and how they can be used as a marketing tool.

    This is our primary objective:
    To investigate the feasibility of using online social network websites (SNW’s) as an effective integrated marketing tool for South African businesses that target the affluent youth market.

    We are busy reviewing literature and are compiling our thesis proposal.

    We are also currently looking for experts that we can interview. If anybody can and would like to help, please email me at

    Thanks this page is of great help.

  36. Mauri G Gronroos

    I’m a KM professor at a Southern China Jimei University. We just launched an extensive Social Network research in China. It’s an collaborative Open Source project and all serious researchers (or students of course) are invited to share the results of this venture.

    The project is a non-commercial and has not received any private funding. More information and contact information is at

  37. Bardia Behravesh

    Wow! This is a goldmine!! I’m just now starting to flesh out my dissertation topic… in some form or another, it will deal with social networking sites, identity, and learning. Thanks for pulling all these great resources together!

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