Using social network analysis to assess professional network development among AGESW pre-dissertation fellowship program participants

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Social Work

Publication Title

Journal of Gerontological Social Work


Professional networks are important for the success of doctoral students and early career faculty members, yet there is little research about what types of experiences help emerging scholars develop these networks. Social network analysis may be an ideal method for studying the effectiveness of training programs in nurturing network development among emerging scholars. We describe one application of this method, which was used to examine the professional networks formed through participation in the Association of Gerontological Education in Social Work (AGESW)’s Pre-Dissertation Fellowship Program (PDFP). Alumni (n = 12) from the first three cohorts of the program (2010–2012) reported meeting an average of 20 scholars (SD = 13.2) through AGESW, which led to potential professional interactions and collaborations on conference presentations and manuscripts. Although challenges with missing data limited the conclusions that can be drawn, we find that this method holds promise for helping to identify key factors that facilitate professional network development in pre-dissertation training programs such as the PDFP.

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