March 7, 2011
Professors Stephen Rice and Matthew Hickman of the Department of Criminal Justice published "A Preliminary Assessment of Small World Scholarship
Networks in Criminology and Criminal Justice" in the March 2011 issue of
the Journal of Criminal Justice Education.
In assessing the structure of small world scientific networks, analogous to the
“six degrees of separation” phenomenon, they found that small world scientific
networks can pinpoint areas of clustering in criminal justice research.
and Hickman, who used a database of over 700 peer reviewed articles from three
seminal journals in criminology and criminal justice, applied a small world
network analysis to assess scholarship collaboration. They found that measures
of network “centerness” illustrate potential dynamics related to cohort,
mentor, and research area effects, and that breadth-first search algorithms may
have important implications for varied criminal justice concerns.
AsRice explained, “In these findings focused on small world scientific networks,
we see potential applications to any research question that deals with the
clustering of human actors, such as delinquent peer networks, terror networks,
or fencing operations.”
concept of small worlds has been applied to far-reaching topics such as
Milgram's 'lost letter' technique and 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' movie actor
networks,” Hickman (above) added, “It will be important to see whether small worlds
illuminate matters of crime and justice."
and Hickman were joined by software engineer Patrick Reynolds of Chapel Hill,
NC. The research was supported by
student research assistant Laura Polson from the College of Arts &
College of Arts and Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in criminal justice,
including forensic psychology, forensic science, and criminology, and a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice.
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