Open access in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

Educating researchers, students, research managers and policy makers, librarians and health workers about changing scholarly communication landscapes

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Health workers and researchers at Embu General Provincial Hospital in eastern Kenya work online using open access research.
Health workers and researchers at Embu General Provincial Hospital in eastern Kenya are now using open access research to help more patients.

The Open access in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda project was developed to build on EIFL’s open access (OA) work in the region. EIFL first began advocating for OA in Eastern Africa in 2010, when we supported the first OA workshop in Kenya.

Since then, EIFL has worked with a variety of local stakeholders to raise awareness, support OA policy work and provide practical training to promote, support and establish OA journals and OA repositories at institutions of higher learning.

BACKGROUND 

Before the project started, there were seven OA repositories in Kenya and three academic institutions had OA policies (Strathmore University, Jomo Kenyatta University for Agriculture and Technology and the University of Nairobi) as a result of EIFL’s support. In Tanzania there were two repositories but there were no OA policies in the country and the situation was similar in Uganda, with three live repositories.

There were 13 OA journals published in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda before the project started. Some of the journals in the region had already demonstrated OA benefits, for example African Crop Science Journal reported increased visibility and submissions (increasing number were from outside Africa), cost reduction in publishing (up to 70 per cent), time saving (the time required for production and dissemination are much less when publishing online – the Editorial Board is now considering publishing more issues), and discouragement of plagiarism. And another OA journal - Pan African Medical Journal – has proved that an African OA journal can attract large numbers of manuscripts in a very competitive environment.

To build on this momentum, the EIFL Open Access programme embarked on a new project to open more research content from universities and research organizations in the region.

OVERVIEW

The aim of the the Open access in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda project  was to raise visibility and accessibility of research outputs in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The project educated researchers, students, research managers and policy makers, librarians and health workers about changing scholarly communication landscapes and has advocated for the adoption of open access (OA) policies by research funding agencies, universities and research organizations. It also built the capacity of these institutions to setup OA repositories and to publish OA journals.

The Open access in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda project was implemented together with the EIFL partner consortia: Kenya Library & Information Services Consortium (KLISC), Consortium for Tanzania Universities and Research Libraries (COTUL) and Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL).

The project was funded by Spider, the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions DSV, Department of Computer and System Sciences, Stockholm University and the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

MAIN ACTIVITIES

  • Awareness raising, advocacy and capacity building workshops targeted for faculty, students and research administrators
  • Capacity building events for OA repository managers and OA journals editors/publishers as well as institutional OA champions
  • Setting up OA repositories
  • Converting subscription-based journals into OA
  • OA policy discussions

TIMELINE

February 1, 2013 - July 31, 2014.

It’s opening up our research. The research that we are doing in our universities. Making it available to others. The research we do is supposed to be for the public good. We are being funded by public institutions, donors and I think its good to be able to share.
Prof. Lucy W Irungu, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension at the University of Nairobi

ACHIEVEMENTS  

  • Increase in the number of OA repositories in the region. Since the project began, there are now 31 fully operational OA repositories in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and 29 repositories are under construction.
  • More OA digital content is now available from the region. There is over 300% growth of OA digital content available in OA repositories. Awareness raising, advocacy and capacity building activities contributed to these results.
  • Increased institutions’ positions in global university rankings. OA repositories contribute to a large proportion of their institutions’ being ranked among the world's best. For example, the University of Nairobi is ranked number nine in the Africa Ranking Web of Universities and their Digital Repository is ranked number seven in Africa. Kenyatta University is number twenty-two in the Africa Ranking Web of Universities and their Institutional Repository is number seventeen. Makerere University is ranked number thirteen in the Africa Ranking Web of Universities and their Research Repository is ranked number twenty-two in Africa.    
  • Four more OA policies have been implemented. In Tanzania two OA policies were launched at Muhimbili University of Health (MUHAS) and the Consortium on Allied Sciences and Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation (CCIAMP), a collaborative project of five institutions within Tanzania and Norway.   In Uganda, an OA policy was launched by the Regional University Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), a consortium of 42 universities in 19 countries of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA). And one more OA policy was launched in Kenya at Kenyatta University, making a total of seven OA policies (mandates) in East Africa.
  • Increase in the number of OA journals in the region. One new OA journal was launched, 13 more OA journals are being set up as well as five institutional OA publishing platforms.          
  • The capacities to launch OA repositories and OA journals have been increased. 30 capacity building events for OA repository managers and OA journals editors/publishers as well as institutional OA champions have been     hosted in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. These events resulted in increased capacities of the project partners and target audiences.
  • Advocacy groups have been set-up to promote and develop institutional and national OA policies. Over 20 institutional and national OA advocacy groups (researchers, students, librarians, research managers) have been set up and institutional and national OA campaigns have been implemented to promote and develop institutional and national OA policies and practices and to encourage use and reuse of OA content in education, science and research.
  • An  increased understanding and awareness of OA amongst faculty, students and research administrators. 37 regional, national and institutional OA awareness raising and advocacy workshops have taken place in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda targeted for faculty, students and research administrators i.e. OA champions.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES