Thursday, 3 March 2011

A strategy for developing repositories in OA-less countries: the Accretion Model

  A national Open Access implementation strategy designed from a National Information and Research Centre would ideally be the right approach when trying to establish a network of Open Access repositories from scratch. However, Open Access -and even ICT- do often have a low priority in the list of pending developments to be faced (1), so alternative ways of capacity building are to be found. One of this alternative means, namely what we call ‘the accretion model’ for building Open Access insfrastructure, is briefly introduced in the following paragraph.

The accretion model is the physical process that explains ice-crystal formation within a cloud. The process consists of crystal embryo formation on fine particle nuclei followed by growth by accretion as ice crystals capture cloud drops freezing upon contact. In order to get the crystal formed, all that’s needed is the nuclei to be there and a wet enough environment for the accretion process to take place.

In the same way, if a pilot OA repository managed to succeed at a given university or research centre via the proper institutional supporting policies and a carefully documented set of procedures for setting up, disseminating and populating the repository, it could very well serve as a model for further implementation at other institutions once the mentioned documentation was shared at –for instance- a repository presentation session aimed to disseminate the model. The to-be DSpace-based UofK institutional repository could work as a fine particle around which further development of OA infrastructure is expected to happen in the country like an ice crystal being formed.

For this model to work it is critical that the pilot repository is built along strict standards that may later be applied on a wider scope. Moreover, this initial repository should need no particular promotion campaign, as its very own existence and the services it provides to the scholarly community it serves –such as a wide visibility enhancement of research publications and activity at the host institution- should suffice to justify its replication in other universities. This is the accretion process, and it’s actually being tested –without being called that way- in some other African countries such as Mozambique, where the eIFL-supported SABER multi-institutional repository, may well act as the fine particle around which a national infrastructure will arise.

(1) “The Sudan is still in need of more physicians, general or specialized. A glance at the health indicators of the country shows that all done in the last century could not bridge the gap between this country and the rest of the world, the developing, let alone the developed” (National College Medical Program)

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