Sunday, 27 February 2011

Open Access Repositories in Sudan: an overview

Two available OA repositories were found when checking out for Sudanese Open Access infrastructure at the OpenDOAR Directory of Open Access Repositories:

• The Sudanese Association of Libraries and Information (SALI) Library English Literature Collection is a Greenstone-based repository providing access to the conference outputs of the institution. Number of available items is rather low (4 as of 2011/01/11 according to OpenDOAR information. This New Zealand-hosted repository is available in English and Arabic.

• The Sudan Open Archive (SOA) is a Greenstone-based Digital Library hosted at the Rift Valley Institute offering free digital access to knowledge about all regions of Sudan. It is an expanding, word-searchable, full-text database of historical and contemporary books and documents. The current version, SOA 2.0, incorporates a comprehensive, interactive guide to internet resources on Sudan.
SOA is also hosted in New Zealand.

Other than these two very specific projects, there is currently no national or institutional strategy for Open Access implementation in Sudan. As a matter of fact, we are hoping the University of Khartoum to pioneer the process of establishing and developing Open Access institutional repositories with help from and thus provide a role model and a success story for other Sudanese high education and research institutions to follow.

Bridging the digital divide: focus on worldwide research output availability

One of the main problems discussed at OAA that prevent dissemination of institutional scholarly output in developing countries was the very low visibility for existing or projected IRs resulting from insufficient ICT availability. Generalized lack of web servers for publishing the IRs on the web and low-bandwidth connectivity to the Internet were identified as very serious issues that can easily cancel all the effort done for getting the right software in place, training library professionals and convincing both researchers/professors and university authorities of the benefits of Open Access.

Initiatives such as O3b for making the Internet further available and affordable in developing countries through the deployment of a next-generation satellite constellation could be of great help for achieving required conditions for a better research output dissemination from developing countries. In the meantime, remote repository hosting plus local management was seen in this particular case as the best available solution for a quick and efficient implementation of an institutional repository for the University of Khartoum.

(See "High-Speed Internet Coming to Africa" article by Adam Smith, Time Magazine, Sep 15, 2008 for more information on the O3b 'Other 3 billion' project)

Some OAA follow-up joint works

Rania Baleela, Assistant Professor at the Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, UofK -and future UofK institutional repository manager- and Pablo de Castro, member of the UC3M e-archivo Institutional Repository Project at UC3M, have jointly produced several works as an OAA follow-up initiative, such as the report “Mapping activities at the Open Access Week 2010: An updated picture of the way Open Access is presently developing worldwide (with particular attention to Africa)”, where values in Africa are checked for some important Open Access-related indicators such as Tertiary education, Tertiary education spending, Science research and Internet users. A review of the Open Access Africa Conference was also published by Pablo de Castro at the BioMed Central blog (BMC being the OAA Conference organiser). Finally, data from international participation at the 2010 Open Access Week were collected and shared with for drawing “An updated picture of Open Access” that was published at the ‘Views of the World’ blog.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

First steps towards an UofK IR at the Open Access Africa Conference (Kenya, Nairobi, Nov'2010)

The first steps towards establishing an institutional repository for the University of Khartoum were taken last November at the 1st Open Access Africa Conference held at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi, Kenya. Over a hundred participants coming mainly from Eastern African countries met there in a highly cooperative environment for a two-day debate on the challenges Open Access faces and the opportunities it offers in developing countries and especially in Africa. Plenty of new professional contacts were made along those two days, and a handful of plans for future cooperation for promotion of Open Access initiatives (both in terms of OA journals and repositories) were sketched between sessions in the JKUAT corridors. Plans for setting up an Open Access institutional repository for the Faculty of Science at the University of Khartoum in Sudan are the outcome of the OAA-resulting partnership between UofK and Carlos III University Madrid(UC3M), Spain.