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Data Visualization (Data Viz)

Network Graph Introduction

What is a network graph?

Way of visualizing members (and thus groups), and relationships using two visual elements: nodes and edges.

  • nodes (vertices) = members
  • edges = relationships

We can encode information by changing the colors of the nodes, size of the nodes, thickness of the edges, directionality of the the edges, etc.

Kinds of network graphs

There are many kinds of network graphs that exist, and knowing the difference between each type of network graph, as well as how to create them, is perhaps the most confusing aspect of network graphs.

There are several kinds of network graphs we can create. Here are some of the more common ones:

  1. Co-authorship  - Co-authorship is used as a metric/proxy for collaboration (considered to be the most verifiable form for research collaboration). For example, the OSU Office of Proposal Development is creating co-authorship network graphs to demonstrate research collaboration between researchers within certain departments as part of their grant writing process.
  2. Citation (use CitNetExplorer) - For identifying the literature on a research topic or exploring the body of published work of a researcher.
  3. Co-citation - For identifying key scholarly conversations or schools of thought.

Other less common network graphs include:

  1. Bibliometric coupling
  2. Keyword co-occurance
  3. Etc

Network graph software / tools



This tool/program is mainly used within the academic setting, and allows you to connect to your own data as well as data from Scopus, Dimensions, Web of Science, and others, to create different types of network graphs.


NodeXL is an Excel template that allows those familiar with Excel to create customized network graphs in an easy to understand way.


Here are a few links that discuss network graphs:

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