Software metrics for social capital in social media

  • Dawn Carmichael

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The aim of this research was creating metrics for measuring social connectedness in social media. This thesis made use of social capital theory in order to inform the construction of original metrics. The methodology used in this thesis involved conducting a literature review into the use of social capital theory in social media, proposing new metrics, implementation in software, validation, evaluation against other measures and finally demonstrating the utility of the new metrics.
A preliminary case study verified the suitability of using Facebook as a context for developing the metrics. The main practical work outlined in this thesis aimed to validate Social Capital in Social Media (SCiSM) metrics against the Internet Social Capital Scale (ISCS) (Williams 2006). The SCiSM metrics were developed to relate to bonding social capital, bridging social capital and total social capital (Putnam 2000). The methodology used to validate the SCiSM metrics was Meneely (2012) and involved using two independent data sets to validate the SCiSM metrics using both correlations and linear regression. Statistical analysis found a strong positive correlation between ISCS and SCiSM whilst regression analysis demonstrated that the relationship between SCiSM and ISCS was concerned with ranking rather than an absolute number. SCiSM was evaluated against other social capital metrics used in the literature such as degree centrality. It was found that SCiSM had a higher number of significant correlations with the ISCS than other measures.
The SCiSM metrics were then used to analyse the two independent data sets in order to demonstrate their utility. The first data set, taken from a Facebook group, was analysed using a paired t-test. It was found that bonding social capital increased over a twelve week period but that bridging social capital did not. The second data set, which was taken from Facebook status updates, was analysed using correlations. The result was that there was a positive correlation between number of Facebook friends and bonding social capital. However it was also found that there was a negative correlation between number of Facebook friends and bridging social capital. This suggests that there is a dilution effect in the usefulness of large friend networks for bridging social capital.
In conclusion the problem that this research has addressed is providing a means to improve understanding of social capital in social media.
Date of AwardDec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorJacqueline Archibald (Supervisor) & Geoff Lund (Supervisor)


  • Software metrics
  • Social capital
  • Social media

Cite this