Lars Leszczensky, Harald Beier, Hanno Kruse, Sebastian Pink
Collecting Network Panel Data in Schools: Practical Guidance Based on the Experiences of Three German Research Projects

Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung: Arbeitspapiere; 166
18 S.
ISSN: 1437-8574

There is an increasing amount of literature on how to analyze longitudinal data of complete social networks. Guidance on how to collect such data in schools, however, is both scant and desperately needed, because longitudinal social network analysis has high data requirements. Aiming to provide guidance for future data collection of school-based networks, we share our experiences gained in three different projects collecting longitudinal social network data in different samples of German schools. This includes both one large-scale study that relied on a nationally representative sample of schools and two smaller studies that targeted more specific geographical areas. We discuss key decisions researchers have to make before data collection, the definition of school samples, and the selection of schools. We further offer advice on how to improve school participation and students’ response, describe the field-work, and make recommendations for projects aiming to collect longitudinal social network data.