Network Survey Timing: Brief

A Network Science Brief from Visible Network Labs

Our clients often ask us, ‘how often should we be surveying our network and conducting follow-up evaluations?’ While we wish there was a simple answer to this question, in reality, it depends on your unique context and history. Some formal networks like membership associations might decide they need to conduct surveys every six months, while other informal coalitions might decide that once a year is enough to avoid overburdening their large volunteer membership. 

While all networks are unique, there are several situations and moments in the lifecycle of a network that are ideally suited for a pause to collect data and reflect on the results. In this Network Science Brief, our team of network scientists and data analysts assembled a number of tools to use when scheduling future surveys, like a theory of change, that may help indicate when it is a good time to survey your partners. They also included a few specific situations and indications that it might be time for another evaluation, like following a major shift in the network (like a change in mission) or in its environment (like a major policy shift).

Do you have any suggestions for network survey timing? How does your network decide when to survey its partners? Leave a comment below with your tips and recommendations; We love to learn from our partners in the field. 

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