Title: Investigating virtual communities of practice with social network analysis: guidelines from a systematic review of research

Authors: Shazia K. Jan

Addresses: Macquarie University, 4 First Walk Central Campus, NSW 2109, Australia

Abstract: This paper presents a systematic review of research that uses social network analysis (SNA) to investigate virtual communities of practice (vCoPs). The review was driven by the lack of immediate value of time-consuming qualitative analyses typically conducted on vCoPs. The review seeks to assess the viability of SNA as a primary technique for structural investigation of vCoPs. Only 12 studies met the inclusion criteria for the review which evaluates and synthesises the use of SNA for exploring vCoPs. Overall, the review reveals that the application of SNA has been context specific and restrictive, therefore, the SNA in each study is neither comparable nor comprehensive. However, detailed evaluation and consolidation of the SNA in the studies enabled the development of specific guidelines for investigating vCoPs with SNA. By allowing timely and reliable analytics on online data, the SNA-based guidelines present valuable implications for ongoing analytics, design and facilitation of vCoPs.

Keywords: social network analysis; systematic review; guidelines; communities of practice; analytics; online data.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2019.098697

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2019 Vol.15 No.1, pp.25 - 43

Available online: 15 Mar 2019 *

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