A suite of open source tools that enable cutting edge personal networks research

UPDATE: We have been funded!

The Network Canvas team is proud to announce that we have been successful in securing grant funding for the continued development of the software. We encourage interested parties to explore our development plan, join our mailing list, and consider working with us as part of the development effort.

What is Network Canvas?

Large amounts of digital trace data are now available to human behaviour researchers, but without contextual factors these 'big data' do not necessarily bring greater understanding.

The Network Canvas suite of tools addresses the problem of missing contextual factors in social big data by enabling rich data capture directly from study participants. Supporting all steps in the research process from study design, to data capture and final analysis, Network Canvas allows researchers to capture and analyse personal network data while taking into account the micro and macro structural contexts of human behaviour that are not necessarily included in 'traditional' social big data.

From the lab to the field — and back

Design an interview protocol, choosing from a selection of common task-oriented interfaces such as name generators and name interpreters. Customise the text of your questions, the variables that capture your responses, and the interview skip logic.

In the field, deploy your interview protocol on the Network Canvas app, running on tablet or desktop form-factors. Take advantage of the convinience and simplicity of a digital data capture instrument.

Seamlessly and securely receive interview data at your lab. See overview data at a glance, or construct filters and queries for exporting it for additional analysis.

Extensible and Configurable

The Network Canvas suite is completely open source, making it free for developers or technically minded people who develop or extend the software's functionality. It uses HTML5 for markup, JavaScipt for logic and interaction, and CSS3 for user interface and design, which means that it is natively fast, flexible, and cross-platform. It also uses several different wrapper technologies which allow it to function on different types of devices and operating systems (such as iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, and OSX).

These technologies also allow researchers with sufficient technical knowledge to implement custom interview tasks.

Development timeline

The Network Canvas project is in its early stages, and as such the project timeline will constantly evolve as development results in a clearer sense of our progress. The timeline presented below should therefore be considered to be a tentative estimate of our overall schedule for delivering the software suite.


Our development is split into three primary phases:

  • An alpha phase, where selected test sites will have access to a experimental versions of the software that are not yet ready for public use.
  • A public beta phase, where we invite feedback and contributions from any interested parties. Our website will host feature requests and discussions, and pre-packaged versions of the suite will be available to download.
  • A stable release, which we will endeavor to support through training and workshops for the remaining duration of the project. During this period we will extend our documentation to include in-depth tutorials of different Network Canvas functionality.

We recognise that many within the networks community will be eager to use the software as soon as possible, and may be disappointed by the length of our development. We encourage interested parties to keep up to date with the project through our mailing list, or to contact us directly with any feedback or questions that you may have.

Stay in touch

Until we launch our new community website in the coming months, we would love to stay in touch with anyone interested in Network Canvas. If you would like to have input into the development of the software, hear about updates and releases, and be invited to events about Network Canvas, we encourage you to use the form below to join our mailing list.

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Work with us

We are not currently recruiting. Please check back soon for some exciting opportunities!

Project Team


Joshua Melville

Lead Developer

Joshua developed and designed the initial version of the Network Canvas framework as part of his PhD at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. He is the lead developer of the netCanvas-R protocol, and will expand his role within this project to include overall management of development and design activities. A Sociologist, Joshua's expertise lies in digital social research methodology, network data collection, qualitative network research.


Michelle Birkett

Principal Investigator

Michelle is faculty in the Department of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University, and directs the Research Program in Complex Systems and Health Disparities within the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health. Her research utilizes innovative data collection tools and network and quantitative methodologies to understand social contextual influences on LGBT health. She is Co-I of the RADAR Study and co-leads the Network Data Core.


Gregory Phillips II

Principal Investigator

Gregory is faculty in the Department of Medical Social Sciences, and directs the Evaluation, Data Integration, and Technical Assistance (EDIT) Research Program within the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. His research focuses on understanding the social, sexual, and network-level factors that drive the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men. He is a Research Scientist on the RADAR study, and PI on PLoT ME (Plotting Layers of Transmission in MicroEpidemics), a Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) supplement to study venues and HIV prevention sites frequented by YMSM.


Bernie Hogan


Bernie is a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, a Research Associate with Nuffield College, and an Associate Member of the Department of Sociology, all at the University of Oxford. He has been involved in advancing social network research for over fifteen years. He is the lead consultant on netCanvas-R, and contributes extensive expertise in network data collection and social research methodology.


Patrick Janulis


Patrick is postdoctoral fellow at the IMPACT program. Patrick received his doctorate in Ecological-Community Psychology from Michigan State University in 2014 where he conducted research on the impact of substance use on HIV and hepatitis C virus risk behavior with a focus on advanced statistical methods. Patrick is primarily working on RADAR, contributing expertise to longitudinal network data collection within netCanvas-R. He has also coordinated interviewer training and feedback on the use of the netCanvas-R protocol.