Exploring the raison d'etre behind metric selection in network analysis: a systematic review

D. Morrison, M. Bedinger, L. Beevers, K. McClymont

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Network analysis is a useful tool to analyse the interactions and structure of graphs that represent the relationships among entities, such as sectors within an urban system. Connecting entities in this way is vital in understanding the complexity of the modern world, and how to navigate these complexities during an event. However, the field of network analysis has grown rapidly since the 1970s to produce a vast array of available metrics that describe different graph properties. This diversity allows network analysis to be applied across myriad research domains and contexts, however widespread applications have produced polysemic metrics. Challenges arise in identifying which method of network analysis to adopt, which metrics to choose, and how many are suitable. This paper undertakes a structured review of literature to provide clarity on raison d’etre behind metric selection and suggests a way forward for applied network analysis. It is essential that future studies explicitly report the rationale behind metric choice and describe how the mathematics relates to target concepts and themes. An exploratory metric analysis is an important step in identifying the most important metrics and understanding redundant ones. Finally, where applicable, one should select an optimal number of metrics that describe the network both locally and globally, so as to understand the interactions and structure as holistically as possible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number50
JournalApplied Network Science
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2022


  • Disaster management
  • Graph theory
  • Natural hazards
  • Network analysis
  • Urban systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computational Mathematics


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