Network Evaluation

A network evaluation may consider a range of questions and adopt a variety of options for undertaking the evaluation depending on factors such as the type, size, stage of development and purpose of the network.

Networks may be closed (bound) or open (unbounded), web-based or located within a specified geographic area. Purposes can include information sharing, mutual support, and advocacy for social, economic, environmental or political change. 


Using SNA to monitor the evaluation of a research network

(Taken from 52 weeks of BetterEvaluation: Week 8: Using Social Network Analysis for M&E, by Cris Sette)

In this example, the ILAC Initiative used the SNA approach to develop a system for monitoring the evolution of a particular research network, commissioned by a large research program.

The project team developed a survey asking members of a newly formed research network to identify partners with whom they had worked with in the past year or so. The survey also asked if the collaboration (formal or informal) was a consequence of the newly formed research network. The information collected was processed with Excel and the UCINET software.

With the analysis of the data and maps, the project team was able to develop a baseline for supporting the M&E strategy of the research program who commissioned the study.

The characteristic of the network, including the characteristics of its members, their affiliations, disciplines, geographic distribution, areas of work and types of research conducted, to name a few, are likely to evolve with time as a consequence of the adjustments in the research collaboration and outcomes. The research program that commissioned the SNA study will monitor the evolution of the network by applying the same questionnaire and methods, on a periodical basis.

Understanding the Role of the World Bank Group in a Crowded Institutional Landscape

In this example, the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG - part of the World Bank Group) have used a network analysis to gain a better understanding of the role of the World Bank Group's policy interventions in the health sector in Liberia in the context of many other organisations and interventions. The blog presents two network diagrams: The first SNA diagram presents the role of the WBG as a financier of the health system of Liberia, in relation to other types of organisations. The colours and size of the bubbles denote the type of organisation and the size of annual budget for health in the country. The second diagram looks at the perceived knowledge leadership of different organisations in the health sector. Read more.

Related BetterEvaluation Option Pages

Network Diagram (Part of the Visualize Data task)

Network DiagramA network diagram is made up of a set of nodes and lines that connect those nodes. Usually a product of social network analysis, a network diagram is the visual display of how people (or other elements) in a network are connected.


Discussion papers

Social Network Analysis

This paper from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) focuses on the role of social networks and how analysis of these networks can benefit the groups and organisations within them. 

Social Network Analysis in Program Evaluation

This special edition of New Directions for Evaluation from the American Evaluation Association (AEA) edited by Maryann Durland and Kimberly Fredericks provides nine articles on social network analysis in program evaluation.

The Use of Social Network Analysis Tools in the Evaluation of Social Change Communications

The article by Rick Davies was produced for the Communication for Social Change Consortium. It presents an introduction on social network analysis (SNA) and how it was used in M&E practices, in different fields. It also discuss limitations and opportunities of using SNA. 

Not everything that connects is a network

This background note from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) provides a detailed discussion of networks, including a broad definition and a description of their purpose and use.



This is a one-page guide to Social Network Analysis. It provides a brief overview, practical tips for using the technique, and a list of resources for more information. 



This software from CYRAM allows the user to analyse social network data both visually and interactively which allows the detection of underlying structures and  patterns.
Netdraw is a free Windows based program that can be used for visualizing social network data.
Tulip is a program that has been designed to assist with the analysis of social networks through visualisation of data.
Inflow 3.1 is a software package that allows you to analyse network data and create visualisations of the results.
Gephi is an open-source software package for visualizing and exploring networks and complex systems

More tools




Cite this page

BetterEvaluation (n.d.) Network Evaluation. Retrieved from

Feature image information:

The graph represents a network of 1,188 Twitter users whose tweets in the requested range contained "#eval", or who were replied to or mentioned in those tweets. The network was obtained from the NodeXL Graph Server on Wednesday, 20 January 2016 at 12:20 UTC. The requested start date was Wednesday, 20 January 2016 at 00:01 UTC and the maximum number of tweets (going backward in time) was 5,000.


Simon Hearn's picture
Simon Hearn

Thanks for the links, Larry. We've now added these to the resource list on the right hand side.

ldershem's picture
Larry Dershem

PARTNER is a social network analysis tool designed to measure and monitor collaboration among people/organizations. The tool is free sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) and designed for use by collaboratives/coalitions to demonstrate how members are connected, how resources are leveraged and exchanged, the levels of trust, and to link outcomes to the process of collaboration. The tool includes an online survey that you can administer to collect data and an analysis program that analyzes these data. By using the tool, you will be able to demonstrate to stakeholders, partners, evaluators, and funders how your collaborative activity has changed over time and progress made in regard to how community members and organizations participate.

Located at:

mdurland's picture
Maryann Durland

AEA has a Social Network Analysis TIG that evaluators who are members of AEA might be interested in. Here is the link.

We are in the beginning stages of developing the TIG and our TIG membership.

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