In order to evaluate the scaling parameters of weakly cationic crosslinked network structures, poly(dialkylaminoethyl methacrylate)-based hydrogels were synthesized via free-radical crosslinking in aqueous solution varying systematically concentration of pregel solution. Based on the gel-preparation concentration, variation in structural properties, effective crosslinking density, average molecular weight of polymer chains, and thermodynamic parameters from combined swelling and elasticity results were discussed using the scaling theory to predict various exponent identities. The concentration dependence of compressive elastic modulus as-prepared state was described by a power-law relationship G0 approximate to nu 20m with the exponent of m = 3.55 indicating the importance of the trapped entanglements. Two structural characteristics, the network chain length N and the average molecular weight of polymer chains have inverse dependence on the gel-preparation concentration in the matrix, while the compressive moduli and effective crosslinking density show completely direct dependence. Experimentally determined N values of PDMAEMA hydrogels first decrease with increasing nu 20 up to 0.2972 and the dependence of N on the gel-preparation concentration gives the relation N approximate to X-1 nu 20n with a scaling parameter n = -1.80, which coincides with the prediction of scaling theory. Acceptable agreement was found between the estimate of crosslink density fluctuations deduced from mechanical measurements and the results derived from independent swelling observations. (c) 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2019, 136, 48350.