Management and accessibility of open access institutional repositories in selected universities in East Africa
Under the open access (OA) movement, research is made freely available for the end user with hardly any restrictions on access to the full-text of documents. Institutional repositories (IRs) present universities with an opportunity to provide global OA to their scholarship, yet by the time of this study (2013), the OA avenue was underutilised in East Africa (EA), with the majority of IRs having less than 35% of their content as OA, which inspired the author to investigate this area. The key question asked was: “how could OA to scholarly information in IRs in EA be increased?” The study assumption was based on how IRs were managed, with the investigation focused on the repository managers and the researchers. The study applied the stakeholder and the diffusion of innovations theories in aligning how the various repository stakeholders were integrated into the development and management of IRs. The study cases were purposively selected universities in EA that had IRs with the highest number of records by July 2014. These were Kenyatta University (KU) in Kenya, Makerere University (Mak) in Uganda and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Tanzania. The study was guided by the pragmatic worldview and conducted using a mixed methods approach, following a concurrent strategy, with data collected in one phase, during which both quantitative and qualitative data were collected simultaneously in 2015. A survey of the researcher’s was carried out to collect quantitative data using a self-administered questionnaire, while face-to-face interviews and document analysis were used to collect the qualitative data. Six librarians in charge of managing the IRs were purposively selected and interviewed, while 183 researchers (out of 330), selected using systematic random sampling, responded to, and returned the questionnaire. On the repository manager’s side, a comparison of the IR development and management factors revealed that the development of IRs in each of the universities was unique, and influenced by the time when each IR was initiated, with Mak in 2006, KU in 2012, and MUHAS in 2013 when the BOAI (2012) was clearer about how IRs should operate. MUHAS, therefore, followed some of the BOAI established guidelines of setting up an IR, and turned out to be more OA than the other two universities. The universities had IPM and IR policies but none of them had institutional copyright policies. There was mediated self-archiving in each of the universities; with marketing of the IR only done during user education and/or information literacy sessions and via e-mail messages on staff mailing lists. Although the library websites of the universities were used to provide a link to the IR, there was no dedicated web-page to market OA and IR activities. All these factors impacted on what got to be provided as OA in the IRs. On the researchers’ side, the study revealed that 43% of the respondents at Mak and 44% of the respondents at KU had published in OA journals, implying that a high percentage of their publications could not be archived for OA in the IR because they were in traditional journals. On the other hand, 70% of the respondents at MUHAS had published in OA journals leading to more of the IR archived publications being OA. Although the majority (81.4%) of the respondents were strongly in favour of OA, there were factors limiting their participation, the most prominent being the researchers’ unawareness about the benefits of self-archiving in IRs. It was concluded and recommended that before setting-up IRs, librarians, university administration and the government should work hand-in-hand while planning and managing IRs by implementing the following: Incorporating self-archiving in the university workflow practices, enacting institutional copyright policies for universities, enacting institutional and national OA policies, and incorporating OA and IRs in the Library and Information Science (LIS) training programs. This study contributes to a more informed understanding of the factors that affect OA in repositories and identifies a model framework for developing and managing IRs of universities in EA appropriately.