Translating Networks: Assessing correspondence between network visualisation and analytics

Martin Grandjean*, Mathieu Jacomy

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalPaper without publisher/journalResearchpeer-review


    Network interpretation is a widespread practice in the digital humanities, and its exercise is surprisingly flexible. While there is now a wide variety of uses in different fields from social network analysis (Ables et al., 2017) to the study of document circulation metadata (Grandjean, 2016) or literature and linguistic data (Maryl and Elder, 2017), many projects highlight the difficulty of bringing graph theory and their discipline into dialogue. Fortunately, the development of accessible software (Bastian et al., 2009), followed by new interfaces (Rosa Pérez et al., 2018; Wieneke et al., 2016), sometimes with an educational dimension (Beaulieu, 2017; Xanthos et al., 2016), has been accompanied in recent years by a critical reflection on our practices (Weingart, 2011; Kaufman et al., 2017), particularly with regard to visualisation. Yet, it often focuses on technical aspects.
    In this paper, we propose to shift this emphasis and address the question of the researcher’s interpretative journey from visualisation to metrics resulting from the network structure. Often addressed in relation to graphical representation, when it is not used only as an illustration, the subjectivity of translation is all the more important when it comes to interpreting structural metrics. But these two things are closely related. To separate metrics from visualisation would be to forget that two historical examples of network representation, Euler (1736) and Moreno (1934), are not limited to a graphic reading (the term “network” itself would only appear in 1954 in Barnes’ work). In the first case, the demonstration was based on a degree centrality measurement whereas in the second case the author made the difference between “stars” and “unchosen” individuals while qualifying the edges as inbound and outbound relationships.
    This is why this paper propose to examine the practice of visual reading and metrics-based analysis in a correspondence table that clarifies the subjectivity of the translation while presenting possible and generic interpretation scenarios.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2019
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventDigital Humanities - Utrecht, Netherlands
    Duration: 9 Jul 201912 Jul 2019


    ConferenceDigital Humanities
    Internet address


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