UCINET datasets are stored in a special (Pascal) format, but can be created and manipulated using both UCINET's and other software tools (text editors and spreadsheets). Each UCINET dataset consists of two separate files that contain header information (e.g. myfile.##h) and the data lines (e.g. myfile.##d). Because of this somewhat unusual way of storing data, it is best to create data sets with the internal spreadsheet editor or DL language tools, or to import text or spreadsheet files and save the results as UCINET files.
There are several ways of creating data files that UCINET can read.
The spreadsheet editor. UCINET has a built-in spreadsheet editor that can be used to enter case and variable labels and data values (data>Spreadsheets>matrix). This editor allows you to specify the number of rows and column, and has the nice feature of being able to specify that a data set is symmetric. If we are recording a data set where ties among actors are not directed, this feature saves half the data entry. There are also tools to fill the matrix with zeros (a common starting point for many data sets that have sparse connections among actors), permuting rows, symmetrizing and dichotomizing (see discussions in the sections below), and copying row labels to the column labels (if the data are symmetric, you need only enter the labels once).
The UCINET spreadsheet editor can import and export Excel spreadsheets, so you can use tools in both programs to full advantage. To import Excel to UCINET, be sure to save your spreadsheet as version 4 or earlier; the multi-sheet format of more recent Excel versions isn't supported in UCINET.
If you have a fairly small dataset, the UCINET spreadsheet editor is a good choice for making single matrix datasets, which are automatically saved as UCINET files that can be used by other parts of the program.
Importing (and Exporting). Data sets can be moved from a number of other program's data file formats into UCINET's. The Data>Import>... menu item supports import from NetDraw (VNA format), Pajek, Krackplot, and Negopy. It also supports importing raw ASCII text files, and files saved as Excel spreadsheets (version 4 or earlier). So, if you started with a NetDraw drawing, for example, and saved the results as VNA, you may import this into UCINET for calculating network measures. I'm more comfortable with Excel than with UCINET's editor, so I usually make data sets in Excel, and import them.
When UCINET imports a file, it will produce a window with your results. Check to make sure they are correct! When the import is performed, UCINET automatically saves the data files in UCINET format in the default directory.
It's often a good idea to set up a new directory for each project, and to set the default to this new directory using the file-cabinet icon on the toolbar, or File>Change default folder.
UCINET datasets can also be exported for use in other programs. Data>Export>... will produce Excel, raw ASCII text, Pajek, Mage, Metis, and Krackplot files.
The DL Language: If you've been looking at the UCINET Data menu as you read the preceding discussion, you may have noted that the program imports and exports "DL" files. DL (for "data language") is a very powerful and (fairly) simple language that allows the creation of quite complex and large UCINET data sets with minimal data entry.
DL language files are plain ASCII text files that can be created with any editor (be sure to store the results as plain text). A quite complete reference guide is provided in UCINET (Help>Help Topics>DL).
The DL language can be a bit picky, and it does take a little effort to figure out how to do exactly what you want to do with it. But, there are a number of circumstances where it is well worth the effort -- when compared to using a spreadsheet. Particularly, if your data set consists of multiple matrices, and if the data are fairly sparse, or if the data set has many rows and columns; then the DL file is the right way to go.
We won't explore the language in any detail here -- the help file is quite good. Figure 6.3 shows an example of a DL file that illustrates a few of the features.
Figure 6.3: Example DL language file.
The file begins with "dl" to indicate file type, and specification of the dimension of the data structure (the language allows specification of number of rows, columns, and matrices). Labels for the nodes are given in the "labels:" paragraph. The data are given in a "data:" paragraph.
The interesting thing in this example is the use of the format=edgelist1 command. This tells UCINET to read the data lines in a way that is very efficient. The edgelist1 format is a set of rows, each one of which identifies two nodes and the value of the connection between them. In the resulting data set, all entries are zero, except those that have been specified. So, among our nine actors, there is a tie from actor 1 to actor 1, a tie from actor 1 to actor 2, a tie from actor 1 to actor 6, etc. Here, the matrix is binary -- the value of each tie (the third entry on each line) is 1.
Another very useful format= method is nodelist1. In this format, each line of data consists of the name (or number) of an origin node, followed by all of the nodes to which it has a connection (this particular format is for zero/one data on the presence or absence of a connection). This approach then requires only one line of data for each actor. For example, a line in the data: section that reads: 3 5 6 19 24 would indicate that actor number 3 had a binary directed tie to actors 5, 6, 19, and 24.
These, and other methods available in DL allow the entry of very large and complex data sets with the greatest efficiency and minimum typing. If you are facing a problem with many cases, connections, or kinds of connections, invest a little time in DL.