Monday, 21 November 2011

Training the repository team for locally hosting and administering DSpace

  On Sunday Nov 20th a specific DSpace admin training course was held at the Regency Hotel in Khartoum for the DSpace@ScienceUofK repository team. Five University of Khartoum staff took part in the training session, both from the repository content management team (Mukhtar M. M. Hassan, deputy DSpace@ScienceUofK manager, Esra Elfaki, assistant IR operator and Noon Bushra, repository content collector) and the technical support team dealing with server maintenance, composed by Tarik Ismail and Hisham Jallabi. The technical course was led by Pablo de Castro, GrandIR Director and joint DSpace@ScienceUofK repository manager.

Focus was made along the admin course on DSpace content management features, so the repository team will be able to keep a tidy and growing document collection at DSpace@ScienceUofK repository. Functionalities such as community & collection, user and permission management were reviewed, as well as the steps to take for item editing and mapping.

A plan was also scheduled for future transfer of repository software -currenly hosted by GrandIR in Madrid- to an University of Khartoum-based server. This transfer will enable the repository to be locally managed and maintained, thus completing the infrastructure capacity building process at U of K. In order to ensure a secure and smooth software transfer, a discussion was held on the required server specifications and on the software management features the repository technical managers should provide.

OASCIR at EIFL-FOSS regional seminar in Dar es Salaam

  The OASCIR Project for setting up the first Sudanese Institutional Repository at the Faculty of Science University of Khartoum was represented at the recently held EIFL-FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) regional workshop, that took place Nov 4-5th in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The 2-day seminar, jointly organised and supported by EIFL and UNESCO, gathered library directors and technical staff from 14 countries in Africa. A OASCIR Project presentation was delivered along the event by Dr. Rania M. H. Baleela, joint DSpace@ScienceUofK repository manager, as an example of DSpace open source software implementation for setting up an Open Access repository at the Faculty of Science U of K.

Since one of the main OASCIR Project goals is gradually building a network of library professionals interested in Open Access and repositories both in Sudan and abroad, attending this EIFL-FOSS seminar -as well as Open Access Africa 2011 conference held last Oct in Kumasi, Ghana- was seen as a good opportunity for project dissemination and also for learning about other FOSS implementations in Africa.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

OASCIR End-of-Project International Conference

  On Nov 17th an International Conference was held at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Khartoum, to mark the end of the OASCIR project (which will nevertheless keep running until the end of the year). Among the speakers at this Open Access Workshop (see programme) were Iryna Kuchma, EIFL Open Access Programme Manager and OASCIR Project funder, Project managers Dr. Rania Baleela, Faculty of Science U of K and Pablo de Castro, GrandIR Director, and prominent representatives of Open Access initiatives and organisations in Sudan such as Dr. Khalid Abu Sin, EIFL coordinator in Sudan, Prof. Abdelmoniem S. Elmardi, INASP Sudan, and Rana Atta and Rofida El Zubair from the Knowledge Management Capacity in Africa (KMCA2012) Workshop to be held next January in Khartoum.

There was a large attendance at the Department of Zoology Lecture Room where the session was held, and plenty of questions were asked at the end on issues such as the copyright, DSpace@ScienceUofK rollout to other University of Khartoum faculties, pending digitisation work for offering online access to the U of K dissertations or whether the repository could be used to offer unpublished material as well.

Workshop presentations will shortly be available at the DSpace@ScienceUofK repository.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Open Access Week 2011 outcomes

  The Open Access Week 2011 is now officially over. Lots of advocacy activities have been held worldwide along last week promoting Open Access to scholarly output from Universities and Research Centres. Two of these activities were particularly relevant for the OASCIR Project team:

1.- A presentation of the OASCIR Project was delivered at the Open Access Africa 2011 Conference held Oct 25-26 at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana. "Dspace@ScienceUofK: Setting up the first Sudanese Institutional Repository at the Faculty of Science, University of Khartoum" -such was the presentation title- was delivered by Pablo de Castro (see some pictures here) and arose a great deal of interest among representatives from other African institutions (specially from Ghana and Nigeria) presently planning their own IR or already working to shortly have it released.

2.- An Arabic version of the Open Access flyer produced by SPARC was released along the OAW2011. Translated by the Lebanese Medical Students' International Committee (LeMSIC), this is the first Right to Research Coalition piece of OA advocacy that gets available in Arabic - with plenty of other valuable materials pending translation!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

DSpace@ScienceUofK to be presented next week at Open Access Africa 2011 Conference

  The OASCIR project for setting up the recently released DSpace@ScienceUofK, the first Sudanese institutional repository for the Faculty of Science University of Khartoum, will be presented in a talk at the forthcoming Open Access Africa 2011 Conference.
This event, to be held Oct 25-26 at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana, will offer the opportunity to discuss the ways Open Access is spreading across Africa, both through Open Access journals and repositories (see event programme).

Since the idea for having an institutional repository at the University of Khartoum did arise last November along the first OAA Conference held in Nairobi, the OASCIR project managers thought -and so they wrote at the OASCIR Training Week report last Aug- it would be a special way of celebrating first anniversary of the project birth.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

DSpace@ScienceUofK featured in OpenDOAR and ROAR

  One of the first steps after releasing a new Open Access repository is having it registered on the international repository directories - thus providing it a sort of birth certificate. In order to be registered in such directories, the repository OAI-PMH protocol for metadata harvesting must be properly working, so being featured in those means the new repository is in equal terms (from a functional viewpoint) with the other 2000+ OA repositories currently operating worldwide.

As of Oct 18th, a week after its release, DSpace@ScienceUofK is already registered with both OpenDOAR, the University of Nottingham-based Directory of Open Access Repositories, and ROAR, the Southampton-based Registry of Open Access Repositories. OpenDOAR features the University of Khartoum repository along with the Sali Library English Literature Collection as the two only Open Access repositories in Sudan - DSpace@ScienceUofK being actually the only Institutional one so far.

Monday, 10 October 2011

DSpace@ScienceUofK is now LIVE

  The first Sudanese Institutional Repository has been released today and is now openly available at DSpace@ScienceUofK repository is the result of the EIFL-funded OASCIR project for carrying out an Open Access awareness-raising campaign at the Faculty of Science, University of Khartoum and setting up an institutional repository for serving researchers and professors with this affiliation.

DSpace@ScienceUofK goes live with over 175 records in its database, most of them available full-text. Along forthcoming weeks there will be an effort to increase the available number of contents filed in the repository. Some additional functionality -such as an Arabic interface- is still being developed for the repository and will
shortly be available.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

OASCIR highlighted in SCAP News #4

  The Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme (SCAP) News featured the OASCIR project among the highlighted stories in its issue number 4 (September 2011). The SCAP Programme is a three-year initiative funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and aimed at increasing the publication and visibility of African research through harnessing the potential for scholarly communication in the digital age.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Report from the OASCIR Training Week (Jul 24-30th) now available

  Along the week from Jul 24th to 30th, a series of training courses and dissemination activities on Open Access and the DSpace@ScienceUofK pilot Institutional Repository (IR) were held at the University of Khartoum (U of K) in the framework of the OASCIR Project (Open Access Scientific Institutional Repository).

OASCIR is a 10-month project aiming to promote awareness of Open Access-related issues among the U of K researchers and librarians. OASCIR started in March 2011 with the objective of setting up a DSpace-based pilot Institutional Repository (IR) for the Faculty of Science in the first place, then carrying out an Open Access advocacy campaign once the IR was running. Once the DSpace@ScienceUofK repository was released for the University of Khartoum IP address range on July 4th, two training courses on Open Access and the IR management were scheduled for the end of July, the first one mainly oriented to U of K librarians to be held on Jul 24-25th at the U of K Electronic Library Computer Lab and the second, more researcher-focused one, to be carried out on Jul 27-28th at the Faculty of Science Old Lecture Theatre (OLT).

The full-text report on the Training Week activities is available at the DSpace@ScienceUofK repository for the University of Khartoum IP range and at the e-archivo Carlos III University IR for readers with no access to DSpace@ScienceUofK.

The OASCIR managers would like to thank EIFL-OA and the Carlos III University Madrid for their funding of the Project and of this specific training activity respectively.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

DSpace@ScienceUofK user accounts are now available. Next, how do I set a password for accesing MyDSpace and start uploading research papers?

  Personal accounts for DSpace@ScienceUofK users that attended the training sessions held at U of K two weeks ago have now been created and are already available. Every user with a valid DSpace@ScienceUofK account should have received a notification email. If you want to have an account and haven't received any notification email, please send an email to to request your account.

Once an account has been created by the repository managers, for uploading a research work into the DSpace@ScienceUofK repository, we should sign on to MyDSpace by cliccking on the button at the left-hand-side menu bar. That option (only for authorised users) will lead into the DSpace 'private section' from which documents may be uploaded. However, first the user is required to fill in a login (email address) and a password.

When personal accounts are originally created, no specific password is attached to them. That's why the first step in accessing DSpace@ScienceUofK must be setting a personal password. In order to do that you should click on the "Have you forgotten your password?" link at the DSpace log in webpage.

When clicking on "Have you forgotten your password?", DSpace will show the 'Forgotten Password' page, in which an email address can be introduced. By clicking on the 'I Forgot My Password' button, DSpace will send a link to the supplied email which will allow to define a new password.

At your email account Inbox folder there will be a new email with subject 'Change Password Request', where the link is provided to define a new password.

When clicking on this link, we get to the 'Enter New Password' page, where the new password should be entered and confirmed:

Once the new password is set, we can proceed to login again, using email address as login and the new password we just defined...

... and then we'll be able to access MyDSpace and start submitting a contribution to the DSpace@ScienceUofK repository

Monday, 15 August 2011

OAA2011 to be held in Kumasi (Ghana) next October

  The first Open Access Africa conference took place last Nov 10-11th at Jomo Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. Originally planned as a one-time conference, its great success and persistent calls by attendants to hold a second OAA event have resulted in the second Open Access Africa conference, to be held next Oct 25-26th at Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science And Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana. The conference, organised by Biomed Central and Computer Aid International, will therefore be included as an extraordinary Open Access Week 2011 event.

OASCIR project for setting up the first Sudanese Institutional Repository at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Khartoum having been born at the JKUAT meeting in Nairobi, the project team would expect to be able to deliver a presentation at this new edition of Open Access Africa where the project results can be disseminated. There's still quite a lot of work to be carried out yet in order to have a properly populated IR by then, but it shall be feasible according to the project timeschedule.

Institutional repositories -the green road to Open Access- and Open Access journals -the gold road- as those published by BMC, PLoS and other Open Access publishers are complementary approaches for increasing visibility of the research output produced in African institutions, and progress in the implementation of Open Access via any of either approaches automatically results in dissemination of both lines.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Analysis of OASCIR courses attendees responses

  Two courses (Specialized , Open & in Arabic) were recently held at the University of Khartoum in order to introduce academic staff, librarians, IT assistants and students at Faculty of Science and other faculties and institutions at University of Khartoum (e.g. Arts, Medicine, Agriculture, U.of K. Main Library, Academic Affairs digitization Unit) to Open Access and to the Faculty of Science brand new Institutional Repository DSpace@ScienceUofK.

These two training courses were scheduled as part of the the OASCIR project which is funded by and aims to disseminate Open Access within the U. of K. scholarly community and beyond.

Course attendees were delivered an assessment form so they could evaluate the training activities. The results of such assessment were as follows:

Over 80% of attendees rated the courses as "very good"

90% of participants considered the U of K facilities were courses were held to be either "very good" or "good"

Nearly 65% of attendees to the training courses considered the subjects dealt with had been "very useful"

Finally, over 95% of participants were willing to contribute to further development of the DSpace@ScienceUofK repository

When asked to note down their suggestions and comments, course attendees mentioned 'more courses like these should be carried out' and 'the DSpace@ScienceUofK initiative should be extended to other U of K Faculties'

We'd like to finish this summary of the participants' views by thanking everyone for their attending the training activities and for their support to the OASCIR project.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Some indicators on Sudanese research output (and V)

  The final analysis on research output from Sudan is the one that compares research output from different African countries. In a similar way to previous results, these figures are calculated on the basis of the research papers published in ISI journal titles, which means quite a large bias is included there if we consider the rate of papers produced nation-wide that get published by those journals. However, since that rate may be approximately the same for all countries in Africa, the results may be significant anyway.

There is cumulative data for the most recent 5 and 10 years. Checking first on the 5-yr table we find a set of global indicators used for contry comparison. First one of those is the total number of documents published in ISI Web of Science. In this ranking Sudan is featured in a medium-range 15th position, with 774 documents (the fact that it's not the same number of documents as in previous results is due to the slightly different reference period).

Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya are the most productive countries in Africa from a global research viewpoint (all of them are large countries). In order to account for differences in research quality and country size, there are also other indicators in the table, such as the number of times those published documents get cited by other ISI journal papers. When that indicator is examined, the top 5 countries switch positions (Egypt still on top) and Sudan descends into position 21.

However, if the ratio number of cites per published paper is analysed, then there's a sudden twist of the ranking, and small countries such as Gambia, Guinea and Mali get the best positions, while Sudan is ranked 31st.

Finally, Sudan is placed 30th when ranking is done by the rate of published papers that get cited at all, with a 54,39%, while Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mali top the list with 80, 79 and 70% of cited papers. The complete table is available here.

If the analysis is performed on the most recent 10 years cumulative data (see comlpete table here), results do not vary too much and relative positions tend to remain stable save for minor differences in some categories (see below for instance Sudan in 28th position when sorting data by the rate of cited documents - which is incidentally ten points better for the Sudanese 10-yr aggregate than for the 5-yr one, probably not so much because older science was better but due to the fact that there are still many citations to arrive for the most recently published papers).

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Some indicators on Sudanese research output (IV)

  Only recently has ThomsonReuters started providing information for funding agencies and institutions from papers published in ISI journal titles. This fact results in several difficulties when trying to analyze information about the funding of Sudanese research. In first place, only data for the period 2006-2011 is available, and names of funding agencies have not been standardized yet, so there are plenty of duplicates in the featured table (see complete list here).

The main problem lies not however in funder name standardization, but in the fact that many research papers do not contain any funder information (such is the case for 944 records out of the total research output of 1323 papers published in ISI titles along the period 2006-2011, that is an amazing 71,5% of them). The results from the analysis of funder institutions must therefore be handled with caution, as they provide just a partial description of the research funding situation in Sudan. An effort was made anyway to standardize funder entries in the table by grouping similar names with slight variations, so the results should be as reliable as they can get given the limited available source data.

Even if incomplete, the picture of agencies funding Sudanese research looks rather diversified: international institutions such as the World Health Organization or the World Bank, funding agencies from Europe (European Union, Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Swedish Agency for Research Development), from Asia (Chinese National Science Foundation, China Postdoctoral Science Foundation), the UK (Wellcome Trust) and the US (National Institutes of Health, NASA, US Department of Agriculture) are featured on the list. The University of Khartoum then emerges as the largest national research funder, followed by the Sudanese Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research.

A sufficiently diversified and sufficiently large research funding agencies base is well-known to be a precondition for a sound research activity and output, and in this regard -all political considerations accounted for- Sudanese researchers could certainly do better. Research output figures shown in previous posts do however show that even with a limited source of funding, Sudanese research has significantly improved its high-quality output along the last decade. Realisation of this fact may hopefully be a stimulus for improving the funding
situation, as it's widely acknowledged a solid research activity will benefit all sectors in a country.

Finally, a good number of current funding agencies operating in Sudan have established some kind of Open Access policy, by which the research results of such funding (that is mainly research papers) should be made available Open Access within 6 or 12 months from its publication on a research journal. Funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust or the European Union have such Open Access mandates in place as of today, and research output produced at Sudanese universities or research centres is already available full-text at Open Access repositories such as PubMed Central, UKPMC or arXiv as a result.

The University of Khartoum shortly having an Institutional Repository of its own means researchers affiliated with U of K Faculty of Science will be able to comply with these Open Access policies by simply depositing a copy of their research papers at DSpace@ScienceUofK, either directly (via self-archiving) or with help from the repository managers (mediated deposit).

If you are a Faculty of Science U of K researcher and would like to have your research papers deposited at DSpace@ScienceUofK, please send an email to and the repository managers will get in touch for support.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Some indicators on Sudanese research output (III)

  The third delivery of research output data from Sudanese institutions deals with the most frequent ISI journal titles in which researchers publish their work, as well as the disciplines this top-class Sudanese research gets classified into. It's no major surprise that medicine, and specifically tropical medicine and parasitology, are the top ISI publishing subjects in Sudan. There are however other highlighted areas, such as chemistry or astrobiology, the latter one experiencing a surge in published papers after a meteorite fell on the Nubian desert in Oct 2008.

Evolving trends in research publishing patterns mentioned in previous posts are traceable in this chapter as well, such as the significant increase in the number of publications. Another aspect becomes evident when examining the evolution of the top-Sudanese ISI journal title list, namely the progressive internationalisation of the
research carried out in the country and its getting published more frequently in high impact factor journals. It's also relevant to notice some Open Access journals getting featured in the top-title list for the most recent period (2006-2011), showing that Open Access publishing -specially in given areas such as tropical medicine- is gradually becoming mainstream.

The list of most frequent ISI journal titles where high-quality Sudanese research was published in the period 2000-2005 features the Saudi Medical Journal in a clear first place, well above any other one. Most titles deal with medicine, tropical medicine and veterinary medicine. In a list of 300 ISI journal titles where at least one Sudanese research article was published along 2000-2005, only seven titles amount for 10 or more papers.

The journal title list for 2006-2011 is much wider in comparison: it features 502 titles, 20 of which get 10 research papers or more (that is, more than double number of titles than along the previous period). Not only is this list wider in scope, but it is far more diverse: more international in nature, it also includes some African journals -such as the African Journal of Biotechnology and the African Journal of Agricultural Research, both of them Open Access- and a couple of additional well-established Open Access journals - the Malaria journal and PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Even more important than that, the difference in number of papers between the first title and the rest of them is not as large as before, showing a much more diverse and 'healthier' research output publishing pattern. Tropical medicine, veterinary and general medicine remain the top research fields in terms of international visibility, although 'Meteoritics & Planetary Science' being in the sixth position accounts for this sudden flow of publications resulting from the 2008 meteorite episode and is again a proof of subject diversity in research.

Finally, the list of ISI subject areas shown below (both for the 2000-2005 and 2006-2011 periods) means a further confirmation for the already mentioned medicine-oriented publishing trend: all four areas with over 10% of the whole research output in the 2000-2005 list are related to medicine and health issues.

In the subject classification for 2006-2011 the percentages are significantly lower: research topics become more diverse and only Tropical Medicine tops 10% of the whole research output. In both subject lists agriculture, chemistry and food science appear also as big topics in Sudanese research, and it's good news to find both environmental issues and engineering featured on them as well.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Question: where are US-American universities in the list of top-affiliations?

  An interesting question has arrived after the release of the first two posts on 'Some indicators on Sudanese research output', and it is related to the US-American institutions missing the top 20 list of ISI journal papers affiliations for the period 2006-2011. The question reads: "If you say the US are the top country with regard to co-authorship with Sudanese institutions (n=147), then how come there's no US-based university in the posted 2006-2011 list of author affiliations?".

Political considerations aside, the answer may well be: dispersion. The US are a huge country with a very large number of Higher Education and Research institutions, so even when the co-authorship with the whole set of them tops the list, there is no individual institution that will make the top places on the affiliation list. Here is a list of US-American universities and research centres featured in the global 2006-2011 list of affiliations top-100:

22. SETI INST 18
32. NASA 14

Next posts on this series will deal with most popular ISI journals and subject in which Sudanese authors publish their papers, and the situation of Sudanese research output with regard to neighbour African countries.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Some indicators on Sudanese research output (II)

  Another relevant indicator when trying to capture the state of current research output in Sudan is the author affiliation in research papers published at ISI journals. Even if we should always keep in mind that those papers are just a small fraction of the whole Sudanese research output, the analysis of author affiliation shows again some trends already identified in the coauthorship analysis at the previous post.

The two lines of evolution that appeared in the coauthorship analysis (that is, a major increase in the number of publications in ISI journals and a remarkable diversification of the collaborations from a geographical point of view) do show up again on the analysis by author affiliation.

When checking the list of affiliations in ISI journal papers for the period 2000-2005 (n=672, see the complete list here), the University of Khartoum will emerge as the major publishing institution in Sudan, with over 55% of the total number of published papers. The University of Gezira in Wad Madani is feaured on the second place, with nearly 8% of the total number of publications. A number of European Universities do also appear in top places in the list, such as Edinburgh or Copenhagen. A relevant aspect is the figure shows the 15 institutions that have signed more than 10 papers in the period 2000-2005.

The second affiliation list (2006-2011) shows significant changes (see the complete list here). First, the 19 featured institutions are those with over 20 published papers in ISI journals. Only the top 8 institutions from the 2000-2005 list had published more than 20 papers, so there we have again a proof of the large increase in research top-class publications in Sudan along the last decade.

Again the University of Khartoum leads the classification, and although the percentage of total published papers is slightly lower (presumably due to the increased activity of other high-quality research institutions) it's still publishing well over half the total published research papers in the country.

There is a significant number of other Sudanese Universities featured in top places on this second list, such as the Sudan University of Science and Technology, the University of Gezira, the Al Neelain University, the University of Nyala in South Darfur, the Ahfad University for Women in Omdurman or the University of Juba. Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) is still featured on 16th position and institutions such as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) are also in the top 15, European universities that appeared in the previous list are no longer featured in this one, being instead replaced by universities such as the Yangzhou University (China) and the University of Putra in Malaysia. This gradual trend towards collaboration with Asian rathen than European universities we saw on the coauthorship analysis is again traceable here. It should be very interesting to confirm his trend for upcoming reports along next years.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Some indicators on Sudanese research output (I)

  This week I was lucky to meet my colleague Niamh Brennan at the Repository Fringe 2011 in Edinburgh. Niamh works at the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland, where she's Programme Manager at the Research Information Systems & Services Unit. She's in charge, among other things, of the TCD Institutional Repository TARA and its integration with the pioneering TCD CERIF-based CRIS system, as well as involved in the development of the Irish National Open Access Research Portal RIAN. Niamh does also take part in the Irish-African Partnership for Research Capacity Building (IAP), which since 2007 promotes institutional collaboration for development-related knowledge generation, knowledge exchange and mutual learning. As part of her work for IAP, Niamh took part in the Open Access advocacy workshop in Malawi: "Maximising research quality and impact" held at the Kamuzu College of Nursing, University of Malawi in Oct 2009.

When she was told about the work we're currently carrying out at the University of Khartoum she was eager to share with us some data about the Sudanese research output in top-quality journals (that is, as determined by the ISI in Philadelphia, US) and its evolution. We will disseminate this information in a series of posts devoted to the situation of the Sudanese research output with regard to other African countries and to several interesting aspects of Sudanese research, such as main countries which authors at Sudanese institutions collaborate with, average number of citations received by Sudanese main publications or main subjects of the Sudanese top-class research output. All these results were obtained from the ThomsonReuters InCites application, which will only account for research papers published in ISI journals. Therefore it's just an estimation and by the way a severely biased one (read Eve Gray's article "Access to Africa’s knowledge: Publishing development research and measuring value") but since those papers published in these high impact-factor journals are critical for research assessment, we consider it to be information of interest. Incidentally, it would be really useful to know how many researchers in Sudanese institutions do actually have free electronic access to this top-class research papers produced by themselves or their colleagues based at Sudanese institutions.

In this first post devoted to Sudanese research output indicators we will examine coauthorships by countries in Sudan ISI research papers in two periods, 2006-2011 and 2000-2005. This will allow for an analysis of the evolution in the area of coauthorships in Sudan along the last decade.

The countries in Table I below are those with a highest number of (ISI paper) coauthorships with researchers based in Sudanese institutions along the period 2000-2005. The total number of papers published in ISI journals along those six years is 672 (the complete table for this period is available here).

2. USA 51
6. SWEDEN 38
7. FRANCE 37
9. JAPAN 28
10. DENMARK 26

The evolution of the coauthorship indicator may ne analysed by comparing the previous table with the results of the same indicator for the period 2006-2011, for which the number of papers published by researchers affiliated with Sudanese institutions has grown to 1323, that is, nearly doubled. Even if there is now a substantially higher numer of journals being accounted for at the ISI estimations, the evolution of research produced in Sudan is clearly very positive along the last decade.

SUDAN 1323
1. USA 147
2. ENGLAND 138
3. GERMANY 135
6. JAPAN 58
7. FRANCE 55
8. EGYPT 54
11. KENYA 51
12. CHINA 50

There are several aspects to highlight from the comparison of both tables. First one is the remarkable increase in the number of publications along the second, most recent six-year period. The second table includes those countries with 50 or more ISI papers written in coauthorship with researchers in Sudan (full list available here). If we had made that restriction at the first table the US and England would have been the only countries above that threshold, while now it's 12 of them.

Then it's interesting to analyse geographical adscription of the featured countries: while in the period 2000-2005 most of them were European, save for the exception of Saudi Arabia, in 2006-2011 African countries such as Egypt, South Africa and Kenya have a relevant number of coauthorships with Sudanese institutions, plus a given number of Asian countries that were not there before such as Malaysia and China.

As a conclusion of this first analysis, Sudanese research coauthorship pattern in the last decade seems to be both spreading (there are less blanks in the second map, US and UK being left intentionally blank in both) and gradually shifting from European to African and Asian countries (with the US in very high positions in both 6-yr periods), and the number of high-impact papers has doubled in the meantime.

Nest post will deal with the evolution in the affiliation of the researchers who published these top-quality papers, and with the subjects in which Sudanese research is a world-class one.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Social event at DSpace@ScienceUofK training week

  Some social events were scheduled as well for the DSpace@ScienceUofK training week, along which two technical courses on Open Access and the DSpace@ScienceUofK Institutional Repository were held for U of K librarians and researchers (see below for more info). The main social event -open to attendees to the first training course- consisted in a one-day trip to the North of Sudan to visit archaeological remains from the meroitic era at Musawwarat es Sufra and the sixth Nile cataract at Sabaloka.

Some U of K colleagues joined in for the excursion, which took us into the Nile River State up in the north. We were able to have some rest after the 200 km ride at the rest house built by Prof. Gaafar Mirghani, Sudan Civilization Institute Curator, from which we would later walk to the archaeological site. At the return we met Dr. Omer El Badri from the Department of Geology, Faculty of Science U of K who was guiding a group of students and explained us several interesting facts about Sudanese archaeology. The DSpace@ScienceUofK repository managers did of course seize the opportunity and explained the new Open Access initiative to him with an invitation to submit his research papers and works into it.

Later on the group resumed the trip to Sabaloka under an evolving haboob which kept temperatures (and by the way visibility) well below average for this time of the year for the whole day. Being a Friday, the site around the Nile cataract was quite crowded with lots of people who had gathered there for the festivity. It was a very nice day all around, also for DSpace@ScienceUofK future work planning purposes.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Potential Open Access policies at University of Khartoum

  The second session of the training course for Faculty of Science researchers at University of Khartoum was held on Thu July 28th. This second session was designed as a practical demonstration of content ingest into DSpace@ScienceUofK. Once a few technical difficulties were solved -that's how live demos go- the process for uploading full-text papers, conference papers, metadata-only papers and theses was showed to the researchers, so they will be either able to deposit their own research output into the OA repository (i.e. self-archiving their papers) or to tell what full-text version from the various available ones they should send to the repository supporting staff for them to upload these accepted versions (mediated deposit).

The authors' reception to the simplicity of the uploading process was so warm, that some of them left the lecture room and rushed to their office at their Department to fetch printed versions of their work so they could be uploaded -presently just as metadata-only items, as there's still no electronic version avalable until the work (a dissertation in this case) gets digitized- into DSpace@ScienceUofK. We thank them very much for their enthusiasm and hope it spreads over to the whole research community at Faculty of Science U of K.

After having reviewed different kinds of Open Access policies at the course first session (such as NIH, Wellcome Trust, Université de Liège or the Spanish Ministry of Science), special emphasis was made along the second session on the potential Open Access policies that would greatly benefit the OASCIR project in case they were adopted by the University of Khartoum. There were two main references in this regard:

  • Signing the Berlin Declaration. This easily achievable step would mean the U of K commits to the promotion of Open Access within its walls, both by endorsing the project for developing a pilot Institutional Repository for the Faculty of Science (later to be spread to other U of K Faculties such as Medicine or Agriculture) and by fostering Open Access availability of its institutional publications such as its journals or conference proceedings whenever possible. Since both commitments are already being met at this moment, the institutional signature of the Berlin Declaration would actually be some kind of a formality, turning the U of K the first Sudanese higher education institution to do so.

  • Becoming a BioMed Central Foundation Member. Foundation Membership is a free service from BioMed Central Open Access publisher, from which a series of benefits result such as getting subscription to additional toll-access BMC journal titles or having a branded webpage at the BMC site showing papers published in BMC Open Access journals by the U of K authors.
    Besides that, BMC is operating a waiver schema by which researchers in developing countries -such as Sudan- have to pay no author fees when submitting their papers for publication with BMC journals.

Two requirements should be met by an institution to become a BMC Foundation Member:

- Institutions should issue some kind of Open Access policy/statement (or should otherwise commit to have one)

- Institutions should have published at least five articles in BioMed Central, Chemistry Central or SpringerOpen journals within the previous 3 years.

There are five institutions in Sudan that meet the second requirement:

- University of Khartoum
- Federal Ministry of Health
- The Orchids Orgnization for Children with Special Needs, Khartoum, Sudan
- Al Neelain University
- Elrazi College Of Medical and Technology Sciences

However, only the University of Khartoum from all five is presently involved in a project for establishing an Institutional Repository, which actually makes it the closest one to being able to issue some kind of recomendation or encouragement to its researchers on choosing the gold (Open Access journals) or green (Open Access repository) roads to Open Access whenever possible.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Training course on Open Access and DSpace@ScienceUofK for researchers

  On July 27th the first session of the second, research-focussed training course on Open Access and the DSpace@ScienceUofK institutional repository was held at the Old Lecture Theatre in the University of Khartoum. Among the attendance there were representatives from all Faculty of Science Departments (i.e. Botany, Chemistry, Geology, Physics and Zoology, plus the Sudan National History Museum). Representatives from other organisations external to University of Khartoum such as the Nile College and the Red Sea University did also attend the presentation, which dealt with the opportunities for progress of the Open Access movement in Africa, the various kinds of available Open Access repositories and Open Access policies and the ways to tackle eventual copyright issues when depositing research works into DSpace@ScienceUofK.

Faculty of Science U of K researchers were very interested in this new way for disseminating their research output and posed relevant questions as for instance how can the quality of research works submitted to the repository be assessed, whether non published papers may be filed into the IR, and whether publishing a research paper into DSpace@ScienceUofK may be considered an alternative to traditional publishing.

There were also questions on the procedure University of Khartoum should follow in order to sign the Berlin Declaration, thus becoming a new institutional member of the spreading community supporting the Open Access movement.

U. Kamal Salih, a member of the team who created the Greenstone-based Open Access repository for the Sali Library English Literature collection, did also attend the session, so the OASCIR project managers had the chance to learn about previous experiencies. The Sali repository, developed at the Sudan Libraries & Information Association (SILA), was the only Sudanese Open Access repository so far, and, since DSpace@ScienceUofK hasn't yet been released save for the University of Khartoum IP range, it remains the only Sudanese one listed in the OpenDOAR directory.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

DSpace@ScienceUofK repository managers meet the U of K Deputy Vice Chancellor

  On the morning of Tue 26th, the U of K Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr. Sumaia M. Abukashawa received the DSpace@ScienceUofK repository managers at her office in the U of K Main Campus. Subsequent talks dealt with staff promotion requirements with regard to OA publishing, intellectual property issues related to content upload into DSpace@ScienceUofK OA repository and its future expansion, as well as the possibility of U of K eventually issuing some kind of institutional Open Access policy for its research output.

Prof. Sami M. Sharif, Academic Affairs Secretary, joined the meeting as a highly interested stakeholder in Open Access (and open source software) promotion within the University. The advantages of providing links to U of K Open Access journals from DSpace@ScienceUofK repository were discussed.

In another meeting at the Department of Botany, Dr. Mohamed Amin Siddig expressed his interest in the Open Access Project and his confidence that it will increase opportunities for international research collaboration for U of K researchers, since the intellectual output of U of K will become more widely known.

The second course on Open Access and the DSpace@ScienceUofK will be held tomorrow July 27th and Thu 28th at OLT Faculty of Science from 9 am to 1 pm. All U of K researchers, specially Faculty of Science ones are warmly invited to attend the event.

Monday, 25 July 2011

First DSpace@ScienceUofK training activity at University of Khartoum

  On Jul 24-25, 2011, the first DSpace@ScienceUofK training course has been held at the Digital Library Computer Lab in the University of Khartoum. This first course, organised and delivered by project managers Dr. Rania M. H. Baleela and Pablo de Castro, was mainly aimed to train librarians who will later contribute to the daily operation of the Institutional Repository. There were sixteen professionals attending the course, most of whom were affiliated with the U of K Faculty of Science, but there were also representatives from the Faculties of Arts, Medicine and Agriculture. Since the plan for developing the Institutional Repository is first serving the Faculty of Science and then spreading to other Faculties,
having those representatives in the room was a very good opportunity for disseminating the OASCIR project beyond the Faculty of Science walls.

The programme for the 10-hour course -whose presentations are available below- covered a wide set of topics, including both theoretical aspects of Open Access and a practical training on various tasks related to DSpace@ScienceUofK repository operation. The course list of topics was the following:

- Introduction to Open Access
- Open Access repositories
- Advantages of having an Institutional Repository
- DSpace@ScienceUofK features
- Usage statistics in Institutional Repositories
- Populating DSpace@ScienceUofK: potential sources
- Practical training: uploading and editing contents
- Open Access policies

The project managers would like to thank Dr. Abdelkarim Hassan, Deputy Dean of the University of Khartoum Library, for hosting the course at the Computer Lab, Dr. Sumaia M. Abukashawa, U of K Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dr. Salah Bashir Abdallah, Dean Faculty of Science, for their strong support of the project and and Carlos III University Madrid for the financial support that made possible this training activity.

A second, more researcher-focussed course will be held this week at the Faculty of Science Old Lecture Theatre (OLT) on Jul 27-28. This set of courses have a double objective:

1. Disseminating the OASCIR project so that every Faculty of Science researcher has the opportunity to learn about the DSpace@ScienceUofK pilot institutional repository, and,

2. Training a group of U of K librarians, information specialists and IT professionals for becoming the repository managers from now on, cooperating with the ingest of repository contents.