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.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Brief statistical analysis of DSpace@ScienceUofK contents (n=101)

  A week after DSpace@ScienceUofK was opened to the U of K range of IP addresses, the content filed in the institutional repository has already reached 100 items. Even if it's not too high a figure yet compared to other IRs, it is a good opportunity for carrying out some preliminary statistical analysis of the items deposited so far in order to identify emerging trends.

First aspect to have a look at is the item distribution by Faculty of Science Departments. There are six departments at F Sci and all of them are already represented in DSpace@ScienceUofK, with Botany, Physics and Zoology as the ones with a higher number of items.

Another interesting indicator is the item distribution by year of publication. Ideally, the repository should offer a representation of the research currently being carried out at the Faculty, so the more recent the filed items, the better. However, plenty of F Sci research publications have never been made available on the Internet before, so offering them Open Access from DSpace@ScienceUofK is just as good a contribution as depositing recent papers.

The figure shows 60% of the contents currently available in the repository were published along the last 5 years, which is quite a remarkable rate of modernity.

Finally, a critical indicator is examined, namely the type of access to the items filed so far at DSpace@ScienceUofK. We intend to find out what rate of the contents is at the moment being offered Open Access. Ideally all items filed in an Open Access Institutional Repository such as DSpace@ScienceUofK should be available Open Access, but in practice it is frequent that a small percentage of them remains closed when publishers do not grant the required permissions.

The results from the statistical analysis for n=101 show wide differences by discipline (with Physics traditionally being the most OA-friendly) and some room for improvement in this regard.

When DSpace@ScienceUofK training sessions are carried out later this month, indications will be provided to authors and repository managers on what full-text version of papers may be filed in the repository according to the publishers' policies. The rate of items available Open Access (presently almost 50%) will surely rise as a consequence.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

OASCIR project receives aid from Carlos III University Madrid

  On Jul 12th the results have been released for the 5th Carlos III University Madrid (UC3M) Call for Funding Development Cooperation Projects and Supporting Mobility. This call, promoted by the Vicechancellor of Equality and Cooperation at UC3M, follows a previous Workshop on Development Cooperation and Universities held last Dec 2010 at the University.

Our OASCIR project for setting up and developing the first Sudanese Institutional Repository at the Faculty of Science of the University of Khartoum has been selected for funding within this call. That will allow the project management team to jointly carry out the foreseen DSpace@ScienceUofK-related training activities at the University of Khartoum, which will shortly be announced here.

Let us express here our gratitude to Carlos III University Madrid for supporting OASCIR.

Monday, 4 July 2011

DSpace@ScienceUofK repository open to the Faculty of Science U of K

  On Jul 4th the preliminary version of the DSpace@ScienceUofK Institutional Repository (IR) has been made available at for the whole range of University of Khartoum IP addresses. That means researchers from the various departments at the Faculty of Science can now access the DSpace-based repository platform and check its features, including the 50 items presently filed in the IR.

A series of dissemination and training activities related to DSpace@ScienceUofK operation will shortly be carried out at the Faculty of Science. In order to design the list of topics to be dealt with at the dissemination sessions for researchers, the level of awareness reagarding Open Access and the publication habits of the Faculty of Science researchers should be assesed. To that purpose, an online survey on Open Access at U of K was set some time ago at Despite having already collected some answers, the number of them should grow so that results become significant, so we'd like to invite all Faculty of Science researchers who haven't still taken the survey to do so before July 15th. Thank you.