Making sense of complex social network data
The research on which this book is based investigated how educational and employment (non-) decision-making, with particular reference to higher education, might be embedded within social networks consisting of family members, friends and work colleagues. This chapter provides some information about and reflections on the research processes involved in the study in order to provide a resource for other researchers. Scrutiny of research processes yields insights at different levels. First, it clarifies the nature and status of the research findings, enabling the research community, and other interested readers, to make more informed judgements about the value of the research. Second, research processes become more transparent. This enables other researchers to learn from them in the sense of having a concrete research process to critique, extend and improve on. Researching social networks using qualitative approaches is a relatively undeveloped area (Edwards 2010), so such debate is especially useful. Additionally, by reflecting carefully on our research approaches, we aim to enhance both the quality of current and future research that we undertake.