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The Mitchell Centre for Social Network Analysis

Our research projects

Here's a selection of recently awarded grants and collaborative projects.

Collecting and analysing secondary covert social network data (Martin Everett, Nick Crossley, Gemma Edwards, Johan Koskinen, Susan O’Shea, Gemma Edwards, Chiara Broccatelli, James Coutinho)

Our aim is to collate an archive of covert social networks and test a number of theories about the organisation of covert networks in addition to exploring a number of methodological aspects particular to the study of illicit networks (the project was funded by the Leverhulme trust, RPG-2013-140, and more information is available here).

In particular, we focused on the dynamics of covert actors and their affiliations to events and organisations, and how we can leverage co-participation and co-membership to learn incomplete data. A PhD on this project (Broccatelli) also conceived of a novel analytical approach for tracing co-participation over time named a Bi-Dynamic line-graph.

Understanding Organized Crime Using Statistical Network Analysis (Johan Koskinen, James Coutinho)

We are working with Canadian Law Enforcement to use statistical network analysis techniques (including multilevel ERGM) to understand the behaviour of organised criminals and criminal organizations operating across Canada. Using data supplied by Canadian Law Enforcement, we are also developing methods for fitting ERGMs for very large networks.

Incomplete multilevel networks and networks in complex contexts (Johan Koskinen)

This was a small grant (funded by BA/Leverhulme Trust) aimed at facilitating collaborative work with the Universities of Melbourne and Swinburne on incorporating dependencies stemming from context, locations, and memberships into the modelling of partially observed networks. We developed a suite of approaches for using Bayesian data-augmentation to account for different types of missing data.

Multilevel Network Modelling Group (MNMG) (Johan Koskinen)

The Multilevel network modelling group (funded by the Leverhulme Trust under the International Collaborative Networks scheme) was a multi-national, multi-institution consortium for developing a new network paradigm for networks with multiple types of ties on multiple types of nodes. We contributed to defining the paradigm and the organisation of a number of meetings and symposia. Our collective conclusions are reflected in a recent Springer book (edited by Emanuelle Lazega and Tom Snijders) outlining the various forms of multilevel networks, current best methods, and future challenges.

Named on or with formal research agreement: Network structure and social processes in empirical social systems (ARC); Complex Ties: The Role of Networks in the Commercialisation of Public Research (ARC); Social Influence of Dynamic Networks (ECRP VI).

Call the Police? A study of social networks' responses to domestic violence, FORTE Sweden, £22,400. (Elisa Bellotti)

The project focuses on domestic violence and the role of the personal network of abused women in the decision to call the police, as well as the interpretation of consequences of this decision.

When the police are called, various parties in the network have usually on numerous occasions tried to hinder and prevent the violence. The starting point of the proposed investigation is to study the ‘response networks’, that the persons in the troubled relationship are embedded in, with the focus on the meaning and social consequences of involving the police.

Distribution and Consumption of Counterfeit Alcohol: Getting to Grips with Fake Booze, Alcohol Research UK, £58,907 (Elisa Bellotti)

The purpose of this project is to provide a greater understanding of the distribution and the market in counterfeit alcohol. This project investigates the social networks that are engaged in the distribution of counterfeit alcohol. This distribution activity requires a high level of organisation and a developed network of actors to ensure market penetration. Understanding whether interdependency between each of the distribution points exists is a key element in understanding the effective penetration of the market with counterfeit alcohol. Understanding the process of distribution will also provide a means of understanding the localised nature of how counterfeit alcohol distribution is organised and how these locally organised groups are networked with the wider networks of distribution

A Criminological Network Analysis of Counterfeit Alcohol Distribution – A Pilot Project, UMRI University of Manchester, £24,903 (Elisa Bellotti)

This pilot project integrates a criminological and social network analytical theoretical approach to understand the organisation of the distribution of counterfeit alcohols. We analyse the dynamics between the ‘scripts’ through which offenders must go in order to accomplish their counterfeit alcohol enterprise and how these scripts are shaped by the networks of cooperating actors at various stages of the crime commission process.


  • Bellotti E., Spencer J., Lord N., Benson K., Covert and overt networks in Counterfeit Alcohol Distribution: a Criminological Network Analysis, British Journal of Criminology, forthcoming.
  • Lord N., Spencer J., Bellotti E., Benson K., A Script Analysis of the Distribution of Counterfeit Alcohol Across Two European Jurisdictions, Trends in Organized Crime, forthcoming. 

Networks of scientific collaborations in Italian Academia (unfunded). (Elisa Bellotti)

The project aims to analyze the scientific collaborations to PRIN projects in Italian Academia from 2001 to 2010. We focus on the factors that increment the chances of getting funded, the interdisciplinarity of research project and the gender differences in the structural position of collaborations.


  • Bellotti E., Kronegger L., Guadalupi L., 2016, The evolution of research collaboration within and across disciplines in Italian Academia. Scientometrics, 109, 2, pp. 783–811.
  • Bellotti E., Guadalupi L., Conaldi G., 2015, Comparing fields of sciences: the network of collaborations to research projects in Italian academia, in Lazega E., Snijders T., (eds.) Multilevel and network analyses, Methods Series, Springer, pp. 213-244.
  • Bellotti E., 2012, Getting funded. Multi-level network of Physicists in Italy, in Social Networks, 34, pp. 215-229.

Under the Same Roof (Gemma Edwards in collaboration with the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday lives)

‘Under the Same Roof’ (ESRC), with Morgan Centre colleagues about contemporary forms of shared living. I looked in particular at the role of personal networks in shared living contexts, like housing cooperatives and cohousing schemes, and used time diary data from participants to analyse the social networks of sharers.

Pilot project: Do patterns of friendship formation predict student satisfaction and academic achievement in higher education? (Daniel Tischer and David Hughes)

Our research project builds on previous studies investigating friendship formation in educational settings but seeks to provide novel contributions.

The study combines psychometric measurement of participant personality with longitudinal network data. Personality is a driver of friendship formation and success and collecting this data allow us to examine whether or not different personality traits are associated with different network patterns. Spatial data regarding student position within the classroom (e.g. front, back, left, right) will be analysed to see if certain types of personality lead to different seating positions (do the attentive students sit at the front and the ‘skivers’ at the back?) and also whether choice of seating is related to other network behaviour. 

(Social) Networks In Finance (Daniel Tischer and Adam Leaver)

The project advances an alternative explanation to the financial crisis from a social network perspective.  In contrast to existing explanations of bubbles focusing on demand-side and investor-behavioural accounts of bubbles, we are seeking to portrait developments in the supply-side, or in other words, how do financial markets grow to become what is widely recognised as a “bubble”? We are using the US market for CDO structuration as a case study to give a time-map of actors entering (and exiting) the market and to show that actors’ positions within the market may inhibit market efficiency where the presence of apparently risk-mitigating actors is nullified by the fact that they sourced and managed asset generated by a highly concentrated core.

Organizational Forms and Managerial Work in Comparative Perspective (Daniel Tischer, John Hassard, Paula Hyde and Leo McCann)

As part of this large research project I am organising the collection and analysis of cross-sectional ego-network data on middle managers in different firms & industries, and across 6 countries. The aim is to better understand how work-related social networks impact on middle managers, both in a supporting capacity (advise, trust, status) and in a stress-inducing capacity (negative ties).