Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Social Sciences Methodology, Statistics and Informatics

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.03.00  Social sciences  Sociology   

Code Science Field
5.04  Social Sciences  Sociology 
social science methodology, statistics, social informatics, network analysis, Pajek, big data, blockmodeling, information society, social media, e-health, on-line communities, information security, integration of methods, measurement, focus groups, mathematical modelling, Markov processes, copulas
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on September 30, 2023; A3 for period 2017-2021
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  208  3,891  3,547  17.05 
Scopus  261  5,431  4,909  18.81 
Researchers (17)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  36383  PhD Sara Atanasova  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  64 
2.  37184  PhD Marjan Cugmas  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  133 
3.  02465  PhD Anuška Ferligoj  Sociology  Retired researcher  2022 - 2023  789 
4.  57331  Neža Geč    Technical associate  2023 
5.  16367  PhD Tina Kogovšek  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  344 
6.  29896  MSc Anja Kolak  Political science  Technical associate  2022  24 
7.  28074  PhD Luka Kronegger  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  136 
8.  23827  PhD Bojana Lobe  Political science  Researcher  2022 - 2023  184 
9.  53134  PhD David Modic  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2022 - 2023  31 
10.  13767  PhD Andrej Mrvar  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  285 
11.  50571  PhD Špela Orehek  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  29 
12.  19074  PhD Gregor Petrič  Sociology  Head  2022 - 2023  259 
13.  55874  Kristina Rakinić  Sociology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  31 
14.  19505  PhD Damjan Škulj  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  154 
15.  30918  PhD Lovro Šubelj  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2022 - 2023  111 
16.  31861  PhD Eva Vrtačič  Humanities  Researcher  2022 - 2023  83 
17.  27576  PhD Aleš Žiberna  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  173 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0582  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences  Ljubljana  1626957  39,483 
The programme group has been continuously researching crucial topics in the fields of social science methodology, statistics and social informatics since 1999. In the next funding round, it will continue to focus on the four main and interconnected thematic areas: a) Network analysis; b) Measuring and explaining information society phenomena; c) Integration of quantitative and qualitative approaches; and d) Mathematical modelling in the social sciences. a) Network analysis: The research group will continue to address topics from the most prominent subfields of network analysis: (i) data collection methods; (ii) network measurement; (iii) development of methods for analysis of (large) networks; (iv) implementation of algorithms in computer programs (e.g. Pajek); (v) applications of network analysis in different research areas. b) Measuring and explaining information society phenomena: The research programme will: (i) further develop and use innovative methodological approaches to study crucial information society phenomena; and (ii) apply innovative research methods to study the social aspects and effects of information society technologies on individuals, groups, communities, organisations, and society in general. Emphasis will be on methodological and substantive issues pertaining to research of e-health, the human factor in information security, and children's use of digital technologies. c) Integration of quantitative and qualitative approaches: The research objective will be to further develop the integration of various online and offline data collection approaches. The group members will compare recruitment, design, moderation, ethical and technological issues in online and offline interviews and further explore the possibilities to improve the interaction in online focus groups. d) Mathematical modelling in social sciences: The work will continue on the topics of imprecise Markov processes and imprecise copulas and investigation of families of copulas derived from classical precise copulas. The main objectives are to provide highly efficient algorithms that will outperform the existing ones in several respects and to identify real life examples to test the efficiency of the newly developed algorithms. The research activities together with the considerable interdisciplinarity and openness to collaboration will further strengthen the research group's well-established role in the international scientific community, as already demonstrated by numerous high-impact publications in journals and prominent international academic publishers, awards, memberships of editorial boards, involvement in international organisations, projects, scientific collaborations and pedagogic activities at national and international universities.
Significance for science
The research programme addresses some of the most critical and relevant issues that lie in the intersection of the fields of social science methodology, statistics and social informatics. It provides important scientific advancements in terms of both innovative methodologies for social science research and contributing to scientific knowledge on the social aspects of new information and communication technologies. The immense interdisciplinarity and openness to collaboration with other national and international research groups will contribute to scientific advancements also in many other fields. The developed and tested research models and methodological tools contribute to improved research practice and better research results not only in various scientific fields but in applied fields and institutions as well like marketing, evaluation, health institutions, public administration and other. The scientific and professional impact is more specifically described in the context of the following main thematic categories. Network analysis: New and improved methods are driving the development of the fields of methodology and statistics and enabling the development of social science fields in which they are applied. Network analysis is now widely used in many disciplines (sociology, political science, economics, psychology, communication science etc.) and the implications of our findings regarding the optimised and newly developed methods for collecting and analysing data are thus crucial. Our applications of network methods in different fields will demonstrate their applicability and reveal the advantages and possible challenges for further applications. Several network analysis methods developed by the research group are already recognised by the scientific community, e.g. network clustering, network skeleton, network convexity, understanding the development of temporal and spatial networks, analysis of signed networks. Further development of these methods will provide important new knowledge and tools for the scientific community. In this context, the importance of the Pajek software must be emphasised since in the last 25 years it has become the leading software for the analysis and visualisation of large networks. It is now used by several universities, research institutions and companies. Its future development is fundamental for several scientific areas (including natural sciences). The improved versions of Pajek for huge networks (PajekXXL and Pajek3XL) are immensely important for facing the challenges of analysing big data. Another software in the form of an R package for blockmodeling must also be mentioned as it is important for the scientific community to be able to apply blockmodeling procedures for the blockmodeling of weighted networks, multi-relational networks, multilevel and linked networks. Measuring and explaining information society phenomena: By providing new theoretical models, innovative research designs, and transdisciplinary problem-solving approaches, the research group will contribute to the further development of science in the following areas: a) improved research designs and newly developed measurement instruments for measuring various information society phenomena (such as e-empowerment, quality of online health information, digital well-being of children and youth, socio-psychological characteristics of information security stakeholders); b) research of health-related social media will bring new insights into the effects of digital technologies on individuals' health outcomes, doctor-patient interaction and health care generally. These studies will also provide improved theoretical and methodological tools for studies in this area; c) as the field of the social aspects of information security is very young, we believe our theoretical models, methodological approaches and findings will importantly contribute to the further establishment of this field as one of the most critical for predicting and counteracting the information security related threats that emanate from human actions; d) the substantive and methodological research of children and youth's use of digital technologies will provide important implications for advancement of the model in terms of the optimal balance between connectivity and disconnectivity. Integration of qualitative and quantitative approaches: Despite constant developments in the field, the use of digital technologies as a data collection tool was not largely considered until the Covid-19 crisis for the integration of methods in general and qualitative methods specifically. Our findings will ensure the more effective integration of online methods to promote a flexible and dynamic approach to the existing mixed methods designs. Our findings will further offer conceptual, comprehensive, systematic and practical evidence to conduct online individual, dyadic and focus group interviews for the scientific community. Mathematical modelling in the social sciences: The results are expected to importantly impact the development of the theory of stochastic processes under uncertainty. Primarily, they are intended to provide a much-needed means for applying the theoretical concepts to practice. The results on copulas are expected to establish the theory of imprecise copulas as an important interdisciplinary field that will simultaneously allow modelling dependence and uncertainty. With its already well-established recognition in the scientific community, the research group will continue to strengthen its place in the global scientific community, especially by promoting interdisciplinarity, openness, high scientific rigour, participation in international projects and other collaborations. In this way, it will reinforce its role as a global actor in producing new basic and applied knowledge in the fields of social science methodology, statistics and social informatics.
Significance for the country
The research group extends its impact and activities also beyond the development of social science methodology, statistics and social informatics. Our members are committed to interdisciplinary research and networking, and we nurture meaningful collaborations beyond the academic community. Our state-of-the-art models and methods are applicable and widely disseminated in both socioeconomic and cultural contexts. We have made measurable contributions to socio-economic and cultural development in various fields and our research findings, results and conclusions provide businesses and public institutions with numerous theoretical models and methodological tools which they can freely implement in their own work. The socioeconomic and cultural impact can be identified in the following areas: a) Support for decision-making processes: We offer numerous tools and models in the public domain, available for organisations and companies to analyse their data. With our help, they are able to react quickly, address business and organisational risks, and optimise their processes and activities. We are especially proud of our mathematical models that are indispensable in queueing processes, workforce modelling and other related fields. Uncertainty is inevitable in modelling processes in time, and the ability to incorporate it into the modelling of copulas can produce new technological solutions for use in the economy and finance. b) Optimisation of intra- and inter-organisational processes: An important aspect of our work is the development of powerful tools for analysing large networks. These tools are useful for companies, owners, ICT users, researchers, web services and blogs etc. as they provide increased analytical potential. Several renowned commercial entities use Pajek, for example: Deutsche Bundesbank, Bank of England, Bank of Ireland, Basel Bank for International Settlements; large corporations, e.g. Volkswagen AG, Cisco, SPSS Korea; and governmental organisations, e.g. Kansas City Missouri Police Department, Indianapolis Police Department, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. c) Support for the development of digital products and services: The theoretical models and advanced methods developed in our research group can be used in all phases of digital product and service development, from conceptualisation to through implementation and optimisation. Our research on health-related social media already proved important in the optimisation of services, such as Med.Over.Net, the largest Slovenian online health community, or Prevoz.org, the biggest car-sharing service in Slovenia. We also anticipate that our research of human factor in information security will hold important implications and provide ideas for the optimisation of technological solutions to be more prone to human-induced security incidents. d) Education: Our research findings are regularly disseminated as the group's members are heavily involved in the pedagogical transfer of knowledge on all levels of university education, both within our domicile undergraduate and graduate programmes of Social Informatics at the University of Ljubljana and abroad. e) Politics: Understanding the patterns and mechanisms of scientific collaboration is essential for developing and evaluating R&D policies that encourage effective scientific collaboration. The methods of dynamics analysis enable insight into dynamics of systems and monitoring the effects of possible interventions in the system. f) Healthcare: The results related to research on health-related social media and online health communities have important implications for the design of healthcare services, health policies, patient associations and decision-makers who may use the research findings to improve the accessibility, efficiency and quality of healthcare services in Slovenia. g) Strengthening the human firewall of information security: The research into factors affecting individuals' security behaviour hold important implications for information security national and organisational policies, everyday digital conduct, the protection of individual and organisational assets and a general greater awareness and practice of cybersecurity. This research also carries implications for further human resources development through various activities (education and training, communication promotion, information security awareness-raising etc.). h) Digital technology's role in children's and youth's lives: This research will have implications for framing relevant and efficient strategies for the safer use of digital technologies, for improving digital well-being of children and youth, for assessing online risks and opportunities as well as to form adequate parental mediation strategies. The results will thus be relevant for safer internet use awareness nodes, policy and decision-makers, education institutions as well as for parents and caretakers. i) Cultural development: Our research on information society will help cultivate the public sphere, empower citizens and facilitate public debate with the use of digital technologies. Development of technologies needs to consider marginalised groups and individuals. Our research helps designers, developers and activists rethink their use of digital technologies so as to better the world. j) Cultural heritage: The uses of the Pajek software for genealogy are important in terms of identifying historical insights into kinship relations to distant ancestors.
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