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.