Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Scholarly Communication Via Institutional Repositories: A Ghanaian Perspective

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Scholarly Communication Via Institutional Repositories: A Ghanaian Perspective

Article excerpt

Background to the study

Universities, research institutions, museums and governmental organizations retain artifacts such as scientific, technological, cultural, artistic and historical materials which embody their very culture and identity. In order to ensure their perpetuity, such intellectual outputs and historical documents are not only being digitized, but are now being managed, preserved, and maintained in repositories. In many academic environments, institutional repositories (IRs) appear to be the latest approach in the quest to manage intellectual outputs. They are, as Lynch (2003) puts it, a set of services that a university offers to members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members.

As a system that facilitates the capture, storage, preservation and dissemination of the intellectual output of an organization in electronic form, institutional repository (IR) outputs differ from institution to institution. Whereas some capture theses and dissertations, others capture published papers, pre-prints and post-prints of journal articles, working papers, conference presentations, research data sets, teaching materials, historical or administrative records and other similar materials (de Sompel & Lagoze, 2000; de Sompel & Lagoze, 2001; Crow, 2002; Campbell-Meier, 2008; Rosenblum, 2008).

The advent of the internet has transformed how libraries store information. Having traditionally remained as storehouses of print publications, libraries are now expanding services by collecting digital contents and becoming content providers by digitizing archival and special collections (Campbell-Meier, 2008). In many academic institutions, the library has been instrumental in the development of repositories, often being solely responsible for their development and operations (Moahi, 2009).

Although institutional repositories are a relatively new phenomenon, OpenDOAR, the Directory of Open Access Repositories (2018), reports of over 1000 institutional repositories in the world with 158 in Africa, and 33 of such from South African universities. According to Corletey (2011), the first institutional repository in Ghana was implemented at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in 2008. Six months later, and with 560 postgraduate theses recorded in the repository, KNUST, in its maiden appearance, was ranked by webometrics as 52nd of the 100 best universities in Africa. This success resulted in the implementation of repositories in four academic institutions through the help of Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH) and International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publication (INASP) (Corletey, 2011). Currently most universities in Ghana, both publicly funded and privately-owned, are gradually embracing the concept of institutional repositories.

Statement of the problem

In spite of the many benefits and successes of institutional repositories recorded in the literature, such as being a vehicle for wider dissemination, author and institutional image enhancement and platform for preservation, existing studies suggest that repositories are not yet sustainable in most African academic institutions. The literature on institutional repositories in Ghana and Africa suggest that many of the institutional repositories become out of function shortly after take-off. These failures have often been attributed to financial constraints and technical issues such as software and engineering protocols for developing these IRs (Bailey, 2006; Rieger, 2007; Campbell-Meier, 2008; Moahi, 2009; Corletey, 2011).

However, in examining the sustainability of institutional repositories, it is prudent to empirically assess the issues pertaining to the campus-wide collaborative efforts at their creation and management. There is the need to understand the peculiar cultural and political issues affecting repository demand, lest an expensive mistake is made to implement an institutional repository that simply has no depositors or users. …

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