Marabesi, A. and Kelsey, K. (2020). an evaluation of social networks within a federally funded research project. Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(3), 261-275. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2020.03261
Social networks play an important role in creating positive outcomes for members of social structures, for example, highly networked individuals experience increased performance, productivity, and scholarly outputs in academia. Social network analysis (SNA) provides researchers with an effective method to evaluate the functionality of teams and, consequently, goal achievement through documenting self-reported connections among team members. Therefore, the purpose of the research reported here was to present an evaluation approach for capturing the development and structure of social networks among members of a large USDA, NIFA funded research and Extension project housed at an R1 land-grant research institution. We concluded that: (a) team members were informally and professionally acquainted prior to the project, (b) mentor – mentee relationships established a framework for developing the next generation of scientists, (c) subgroups existed within the network as information and data sharing was centralized around a few participants, and (d) there was a communication gap between university graduate students and industry representatives who served as advisory board members for the project Recommendations for improving team functionality include: (a) improving communication among team members, and (b) implementing a mentoring program to
pair university students with industry representatives to improve the relevance of academic research products among growers.