SocSciBot Network Tutorial

Starting SocSciBot Network

SocSciBot Network can be started from within the web crawler program SocSciBot 4 or from the link analysis program Webometric Analyst. If you have data from either of these then you are recommended to start SocSciBot Network from within these programs.

There are some choices about which data to analyse:

The easiest way to start SocSciBot Network is to install Webometric Analyst and run it from this program. Follow the instructions here to install Webometric Analyst if you don't already have it.

When Webometric Analyst is installed, start it, select the classic interface option from the Wizard that appears first and select Show SocSciBot Network Graph Tool from the File menu when the main screen appears. SocSciBot Network will appear with a default network showing.

Opening networks

Unless you already have your network loaded in SocSciBot Network, load your network file by selecting Load from the File menu and then the option Pajek Graph or Web Network from File. Use the dialog box that appears to select your file (e.g., and then click Open to view the file in SocSciBot Network.

When the network is loaded it will appear in a random arrangement that is not very tidy. The next step is to get a better arrangement of the network using a layout algorithm.

Automatically rearranging the network layout

In order to get an automatic rearrangement of the network in a form showing some of the network’s structure, the Fruchterman-Reingold algorithm can be used. To invoke this, select Fruchterman Reingold from the Layout menu.

The network will rearrange itself into a tidier pattern, perhaps something like the one below.

If the rearrangement is not satisfactory, select Fruchterman Reingold from the Layout menu again and see if it improves.

Fruchterman Reingold options

If the Fruchterman-Reingold algorithm does not give good results, it can be re-run in a different way. This can be achieved by changing the k parameter in the FR tab.

Try moving the slider to increase the value of k and then rerunning the algorithm by selecting Fruchterman Reingold from the Layout menu again. Larger values of k try to force the nodes further apart in the network. Try a few different values of k and keep the one that works best for your network.

Moving nodes

Individual nodes can be moved around in order to improve the layout – for example to avoid overlapping names. To move a node, click on the centre of the node circle and then drag it to another place. The node will become green when you click on it to drag it if it has been selected. The node’s arrows will move with it. Try this for a few nodes.

Changing properties of all nodes

It is possible to change lots of properties of the nodes in the network, including their position and size. Some arrow properties can also be changed.

To change the sizes of the nodes, make sure the Info tab is selected on the right hand side of the screen and slide around the slider labelled Overall Node Size Scaling. This will change the size of all nodes at the same time. Use this slider to make the nodes much bigger as shown below.

Now try the Overall Arrow Width Scaling slider, also in the Info tab. Slide this to increase the arrow widths. If necessary, shrink the node sizes first so that the arrows are clearly visible.

The entire network can be moved around the screen using the four arrow buttons at the bottom of the Info screen. Try this and see the network move.

Changing properties of groups of nodes

It is possible to change lots of properties of a single node, or a group of nodes using right-click menus. The procedure for this is to first select the nodes to be changed by dragging the mouse across them and then right clicking and selecting a menu option for the desired feature to change. Note that nodes become green when selected and that left-clicking anywhere deselects the nodes.

Try changing the colour of a few of the nodes by dragging across them to select them and then right-clicking to activate the menu.

Select the Change Colour of Selected Nodes option and select a colour from the dialog box. This colour will be applied to all the selected nodes, but please note that the selected nodes will remain green until you click somewhere away from them to release them from being selected.
Select different groups of nodes and try out each of the options in the top section of the right-click menu to see what it does.

The purpose of these options is so that different information can be coded in the network. For example, all nodes from the same country or web site could be given the same colour.

Note that if you want to use the right-click menu options on all nodes in the network then they can all be easily selected by using the Select All Nodes option in the Edit menu.

Saving networks

To save a network, use Save As from the File menu. Files can be saved in Pajek or Web Network format but note that not all information is saved. For example, font names are not saved.

To get a high quality picture of the network as a file, it can be printed to a file, using Print from the File menu and selecting a printer that creates a file. Many computers have a Document Writer printer that can do this. If you need a very high quality image then you will need to install a “TIFF printer driver” and then print the high quality image using this. This option can give high resolution images for academic papers.

Printing networks

To print a network, select Print from the File menu.