Aims and scope

Network Science is an interdisciplinary journal. While we think of social network analysis, methods, and theory as the central components of network science, the discipline has grown well beyond the “social” context. Networks were first studied quantitatively by behavioral scientists but are now modeled by many different types of researchers. The discipline is ready for a comprehensive journal, open to papers from all relevant areas.This journal aims to give that diverse community of researchers an outlet to share new discoveries and talk to one another.

Network science is an interdisciplinary endeavor, with methods and applications drawn from across the natural, social, and information sciences. It has a long tradition in social and behavioral science research, going back to the 1920’s. The founding of the journal Sociometry by (perhaps) the first quantitative network researcher Jacob Moreno was an important start in developing and popularizing network methodology. After the 1940’s, as described in Freeman’s (2004) history of network analysis, advances were made in a number of research areas, including sociology, anthropology, organizational science, and social psychology. Economists and political scientists now realize that information flows through networks can be utilized theoretically and empirically to generate more accurate theories and obtain better predictive outcomes. 

Of course, mathematicians, and more recently statisticians, have long researched graph theory and greatly influenced these developments. The massive amounts of data now being gathered today on people, organizations, or social actors in general can include fascinating information on social interactions; such data sets have generated new interests in networks and network data in the statistics and applied mathematics world. Classes, workshops, and short courses abound in the field, as do conferences and special centers for network studies.

Another dramatic surge in network science occurred in the mid-1990’s as first physicists, then biologists, and more recently, computer scientists saw the relevance of networks within their own disciplines. Here, in the 21st century, with a new understanding and appreciation for the interconnectedness and globalization of the world, along with the growth of the internet and social media, network methods seem an increasingly natural way to research many aspects of modern “society” and the individuals, organizations, cellular processes, and other “social” actors within it. Clearly, it is time for a journal devoted solely to network science, drawing from research in the many disciplines that now utilize the network paradigm.

The new publication will include original research articles, both invited and contributed, and discussions of invited articles (similar to the Journals of the Royal Statistical Society).