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Is There A Social Life In Open Data? The Case Of Open Data Practices In Educational Technology Research

Juliana Raffaghelli, Stefania Manca

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In the landscape of Open Science, Open Data (OD) plays a crucial role as data are one of the most basic components of research, despite their diverse formats across scientific disciplines. Opening up data is a recent concern for policy makers and researchers, as the basis for good Open Science practices. The common factor underlying these new practices—the relevance of promoting Open Data circulation and reuse—is mostly a social form of knowledge sharing and construction. However, while data sharing is being strongly promoted by policy making and is becoming a frequent practice in some disciplinary fields, Open Data sharing is much less developed in Social Sciences and in educational research. In this study, practices of OD publication and sharing in the field of Educational Technology are explored. The aim is to investigate Open Data sharing in a selection of Open Data repositories, as well as in the academic social network site ResearchGate. The 23 Open Datasets selected across five OD platforms were analysed in terms of (a) the metrics offered by the platforms and the affordances for social activity; (b) the type of OD published; (c) the FAIR (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability) data principles compliance; and (d) the extent of presence and related social activity on ResearchGate. The results show a very low social activity in the platforms and very few correspondences in ResearchGate that highlight a limited social life surrounding Open Datasets. Future research perspectives as well as limitations of the study are interpreted in the discussion.