Social network analysis of the research relationships among faculty members of the UP Open University

Joyce Mae Manalo
University of the Philippines Open University
Los Baņos, the Philippines

Open and distance e-learning programmes offered by open universities have opened up opportunities for students to be flexible about when and where they study. This same freedom that allows students to be mobile and ubiquitous applies also to faculty members. With many courses not having real-time face-to-face classes, and the prevalence of modern communication technologies, there is little need for faculty staff to convene physically at the same place and time in order to carry out most of their work. At the University of the Philippines Open University, the faculty members have the option of reporting to one of the campuses and Learning Centres. While this kind of setup is effective for teaching, meaningful relationships between them for research purposes may be limited due to the lack of interaction. Because of this, potential collaborations may remain untapped, and opportunities for grants and fellowships may be missed.

This study attempts to map out relationships among faculty staff (using network visualization tools such as Gephi) based on their research interests, previous collaboration, and the people with whom they frequently communicate. Using the map, the current state of the research culture in the University is analysed and possibilities for research collaborations are identified. The analysis aims to find existing research communities, identify central figures, and determine the level of connectedness of the faculty network and the implications for the University's research culture. This will help University administrators, as well as faculty staff and others involved, to make decisions that will further foster research in the University.