In editorial to the first issue of “Network Science” Wasserman and colleagues cite Duncan Watts, who said that “Networks are important because if we don’t understand networks, we can’t understand how markets function, organizations solve problems, or how societies change.” (Network Science, 1, p. 2). They used this argument to justify the need of the network science as a field. We take it down to a smaller scale and state that if network science spans across a variety of disciplines, then studying networks in one isolated field at a time will not bring us closer to the systematic understanding of the network phenomena in question.
There is no question of whether the field of social networks is important: as several recent publications at HSE demonstrate (http://publications.hse.ru/news/107300274.html), social networks are becoming on one of the priority research areas. What makes this field unique is that it is truly multidisciplinary: many social fields are interconnected and should be studied in parallel using the same instruments. Established in 2014, the International laboratory for Applied Network Research (ANR-Lab) under scientific supervision of Stanley Wasserman spans across several fields of study, with one common thread – network science – as a methodology to study a variety of issues, be it student performance, company competitiveness, or social movements and their political implications.
NetLab is designed to function as a network laboratory with several hubs, working somewhat independently, but united by a common strategic vision, direction, and research methodology. Hub leaders are all experienced researchers, who have published their work in international journals. The overarching goals of the laboratory are establishing and promoting rigorous network research in Russia, training and development of students and young researchers, and increasing internationalization of HSE scientific and educational endeavors.
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