Disciplinary differences in the use of academic social networking sites

José Luis Ortega (Cybermetrics Laboratory, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Madrid, Spain)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Publication date: 10 August 2015



The purpose of this paper is to detect and describe disciplinary differences in the users and use of several social networking sites by scientists.


Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) (Spanish National Research Council) researchers registered in the most currently relevant academic social network sites (Google Scholar Citations, Academia.edu, ResearchGate (RG) and Mendeley) were analysed. In total, 6,132 profiles were classified according the eight research areas of the CSIC.


Results show that Academia.edu is massively populated by humanists and social scientists, while RG is popular among biologists. Disciplinary differences are observed across every platform. Thus, scientists from the humanities and social sciences and natural resources show a significant activity contacting other members. On the contrary, biologists are more passive using social tools.


This is the first study that analyses the disciplinary performance of a same sample of researchers on a varied number of academic social sites, comparing their numbers across web sites.



Ortega, J. (2015), "Disciplinary differences in the use of academic social networking sites", Online Information Review, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 520-536. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-03-2015-0093

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