Interpreting Social Networks


Interpreting Digital Enabled Social Networks, Special issue of Information Systems Journal, Edited by Eoin Whelan, Brian Butler, Robin Teigland and Emmanuelle Vaast; Deadline 31 Aug 2011

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Interpreting Digital Enabled Social Networks

Special Issue Guest Editors

  • Eoin Whelan, University of Limerick, Ireland
  • Brian Butler, University of Pittsburgh, USA
  • Robin Teigland, Stockholm School of Economics
  • Emmanuelle Vaast, Long Island University, USA

While the study of social networks enjoys a long and rich tradition, particularly in the fields of sociology and anthropology, it has only recently grown in popularity among IS researchers interested in applying established social network theories to online environments. This recent interest from the IS community has been driven by a number of factors including the advances in the computing and visualisation power of social network analysis packages, the public availability of large-scale empirical datasets (such as the Enron email archive), and the emergence of the popular online social networking services Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter, as well as other platforms that facilitate mass collaboration and self-organisation, such as blogs, wikis, user tagging systems, and even the more recent emergence of virtual worlds. As such, a number of prominent IS journals have already dedicated special issues to the topic of digital enabled social networks in recent times. While the studies published in these special issues have generated many important insights, the majority have tended to investigate digital enabled social networks with a positivist philosophy employing quantitative methods. Much of our current understanding of the dynamics of these social structures stems from methods which measure and correlate the overall network structure, or the individual’s position within the network, to a variety of dependent variables. There is much that has yet to be understood about social networks constructed on digital platforms, particularly their impact on organisational life. Interpretative studies can contribute greatly by providing rich and deep insights into the inner workings of these important organisational forms and the technical, behavioural, and economic challenges they face.

The aim of this special issue is to advance the state of social network research within the IS field by discussing and disseminating empirical results gained through interpretative studies. The focus is upon highlighting work that makes significant theoretical and empirical advances to our understanding of digital enabled social networks. Submissions that address methodological issues associated with the study of social networks in IS research are also welcome.

Topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • New qualitative approaches to study digital enabled social networks
  • Assessing the nature and quality of information exchange and knowledge creation in digital enabled social networks
  • IS case studies that describe how digital enabled social networks can be harnessed in organisational settings
  • Open innovation/co-creation through digital enabled social networks
  • Interpretative studies investigating entrepreneurship and the rise of occupational communities through digital enabled social networks
  • Interpretative insights of leadership and governance in digital enabled social networks
  • Qualitative approaches to examine the interplay between online and offline social networks
  • Social networks and IT adoption
  • Interpretative studies to ascertain the role of ICT in the diffusion of information, trends, behaviours, and innovations in social networks
  • Combining social network analysis and qualitative approaches in IS research
  • Methodological issues in IS social network research
  • Critical reviews of the digital enabled social network literature

Submission Guidelines

Manuscripts should not normally exceed 7000 words and should be submitted online at

Authors will have to select Special Issue Submission as the manuscript type. Author guidelines are available at ‘author guidelines’ at

All submissions will be peer-reviewed following the double-blind review process of ISJ. The objective is to apply very high standards of acceptance while ensuring fair, timely and efficient review cycles.


  • Full initial paper submission deadline: 31 August 2011
  • First Review deadline: 30 November 2011
  • Revised paper submission deadline: (if required) 31 January 2012
  • Second Review deadline: 16 March 2012
  • Camera-ready paper submission deadline: 30 April 2012