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An analysis of ResearchGate and Academia. edu as socio-technical systems for scholars’ networked learning: a multilevel framework proposal


Academic social network sites (ASNS) like ResearchGate and are digital
platforms for information sharing and systems for open dissemination of scholarly practices that are gaining
momentum among researchers of multiple disciplines. Although ASNS are increasingly transforming
scholarly practices and academic identity, a unifying theoretical approach that analyses these platforms at
both a systemic/infrastructural and at a personal/individual level is missing. Moreover, despite there is an
increasing amount of studies on social media benefits for scholarly networking and knowledge sharing, very
few studies have investigated specific benefits of ResearchGate and for scholars’ professional
development according to a networked learning perspective. This study focuses on academic social network
sites as networked socio-technical systems and adopts a three-level analysis related to ASNS as platforms
for digital scholarship and scholarly communication. The approach comprises: 1) a macro-level, which
constitutes the socio-economic layer; 2) a meso-level, which comprises the techno-cultural layer; and 3)
a micro-level, which constitutes the networked-scholar layer. The study reports on investigations into the
technological features provided by ResearchGate and for networked learning that are based
on the multilevel approach. The final aim is to exemplify how these digital services are socio-technical
systems that support scholars’ knowledge sharing and professional learning.


Academic social network sites; ResearchGate;; Socio-technical systems; Networked learning; Professional development; Educational technology; Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL).

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Italian Journal of Educational Technology (IJET) | ISSN (print) 2532-4632 | ISSN (online) 2532-7720