Thursday, 13 September 2012

Steady progress of Open Access at Kenyatta University and beyond

  As shown in the Open Access trend worldmap in the previous post, Kenya may well be the country where a strongest impulse towards Open Access implementation in a coordinated, cross-institutional way is currently under way. A high number of Kenyan universities are taking steps to issue Open Access policies and to set up their institutional repositories. These include Maseno University, which has recently become the first signatory of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access in Kenya, Kenyatta University, which is about to adopt an institutional Open Access policy and is already running its own IR, Moi University, University of Nairobi and JKUAT, which has recently issued a Digital Repository Policy document so well drafted that it may become a source of inspiration for many other institutions in the continent.

Efforts during the Open Access activity week at KU were aimed to train the Kenyatta University IR and ICT staff and KU researchers and Management Board on Open Access and on how to deal with the new institutional repository which is being developed by the University Library. The 2-day seminar held at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS) -organised by Reuben Njuguna, KU Dept. of Business Administration- provided the summit in the OA advocacy sessions held during the week. The first day of this event was devoted to introducing Open Access and its current worklines to the KU Management board, with talks by Gitau George Njoroge, Director of KU Library, Iryna Kuchma, EIFL Open Access Programme manager, William Nixon, Digital Library manager at the University of Glasgow and Brian Hole, manager of the Ubiquity Press Open Access publisher. The second day a round of group discussions was held among the KU VCs and professors in order to establish the guidelines for a draft Open Access policy for KU, which is now under review by the KU Law Department in order to make it final.

In the meantime KU legacy dissertations are starting to be digitised in order to provide full-text files to the metadata-only items that presently constitute the largest part of the KU IR. Metadata sets associated with different document types are also undergoing an update so they'll fit the requirements for providing a thorough description of the KU research output. Once this processes reach an advanced state, an advocacy campaign for further dissemination of the advantages the IR provides the KU community will be carried out at KU Schools. Ideally this should result in KU researchers and professors having the opportunity to offer their online research profiles and publications in the same way as Dr. Erik Nordman, a GVSU researcher in environmental economics who is currently spending a sabbatical year at KU School of Environmental Studies and whose publications are easy to track at his home ScholarWorks@GVSU repository.

The setting up of the KU IR will not only provide visibility for the KU scholarly output, but will also help introducing better description procedures for the Faculty members' publications. Once it gets consolidated as a fully operational reporting tool, the IR will also become the default platform for collecting the KU research output, including the journals internally published by KU Schools and Departments which are currently impossible to track online. If the IR Project at KU is able to keep its cruise speed and meet its strategic goals, the Kenyatta University Library should in the mid-term develop a research information management system as inspirating as its actual building.

With the ongoing EIFL-funded Project “Knowledge without boundaries: Advocacy campaign in Kenya for OA and institutional repositories” providing a solid platform for promoting Open Access and IRs in the country through the Kenyan Library and Information Services Consortium (KLISC), a national network of well-populated institutional repositories could soon become a reality, showing the way ahead to other East African countries.


dennis brown said...
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Ema Susanti said...
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