Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Citation of Open Access Resources by African Researchers in Corrosion Chemistry

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Citation of Open Access Resources by African Researchers in Corrosion Chemistry

Article excerpt


There are many articles and reports that note the information needs of scholars in Africa. The issues are many-layered and complicated. Some of the issues concern: the institutional cost of subscribing to scientific journals (Nwagwu and Ahmed (2009), Suber and Arunachalam, 2006); the electrical and telecommunications infrastructure including computers and the quality and speed of the Internet access (Krubu and Osawaru (2011); Issa, et al. 2011); and the skills and ability of library staff to take advantage of the available resources (Lor and Britz, 2010). It is also known that situations are different depending upon geographic location within Africa. Researchers in some African countries may have an easier time finding and using scholarly resources than those who live in less developed parts of Africa. (Gyamfi, 2005).

Because some researchers in Africa may have a hard time accessing the scientific scholarly literature from subscription journals, the authors wanted to determine how much Open Access literature was used and cited in the field of corrosion chemistry. It was assumed that if an article was cited, then it must have been read and used at some point.

Overview of Open Access

There are several definitions of Open Access. It is the "free and immediate online access to peer-reviewed journal literature" (Crow, 2009, p. 2). In 2001, the Open Letter to Scientific Publishers signed by tens of thousands of scholars worldwide called for "... the establishment of an online public library that would provide the full contents of the published record of research and scholarly discourse in medicine and the life sciences in a freely accessible, fully searchable, interlinked form." (Public Library of Science (PLoS)). Dr. Peter Suber, Senior Researcher at the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and historian and researcher of the OA Movement, refers to these documents collectively as the BBB definition. This includes statements made about OA from the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI, 2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (Suber, 2003), and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (Berlin Declaration, 2003).

Suber (2007) defined OA literature as digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. OA publishing is compatible with copyright, peer review, revenue (commercial for-profit), print, preservation, prestige, career-advancement, indexing services, and other features and supportive services associated with conventional scholarly literature.

There are two primary locations where researchers will find OA articles. (Suber, 2004) Open Access articles can be found in subject archives or institutional repositories, and this is called green OA. Open Access journals also provide readers with free direct access to articles from the publisher; this is called gold OA.

Use of Scientific Resources by Chemists and Engineers

It is known that scientists and engineers employ a variety of methods to find and read full texts of articles. Scientists and engineers may or may not rely on library subscriptions or personal journal subscriptions for their information needs. Researchers in engineering often use a network of colleagues for sources of information. (Tenopir and King, page 59 and 83) Chemists and scientists in general tend to read more journal articles as compared to engineers. (Tenopir and King, page 157)

Since Alma Swan and Sheridan Brown (2005) had found that chemists are reluctant to post article preprints or postprints to institutional or subject based repositories, the authors were not sure how many green OA articles would be found in the references of the 15 source articles. Swan and Brown also noted that "there have been instances of publishers refusing an article submitted by an author who has self-archived the preprint on the grounds of prior publication. …

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