Open access (46) Open access in Africa (4) OA behaviours and perceptions of health sciences faculty and roles of information professionals

10 August, 2019

Health Info Libr J. 2015 Mar;32(1):37-49.

doi: 10.1111/hir.12094. Epub 2015 Jan 21.

(free access)

Open access behaviours and perceptions of health sciences faculty and roles of information professionals.

Lwoga ET(1), Questier F.

Author information:

(1)Directorate of Library Services, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Health Sciences, Dar es salaam, United Republic of Tanzania.

OBJECTIVE: This study sought to investigate the faculty's awareness, attitudes and use of open access, and the role of information professionals in supporting open access (OA) scholarly communication in Tanzanian health sciences


METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 librarians, while questionnaires were physically distributed to 415 faculty members in all eight Tanzanian health sciences universities, with a response rate of 71.1%.

RESULTS: The study found that most faculty members were aware about OA issues. However, the high level of OA awareness among faculty members did not translate into actual dissemination of faculty's research outputs through OA web

avenues. A small proportion of faculty's research materials was made available as OA. Faculty were more engaged with OA journal publishing than with self-archiving practices. Senior faculty with proficient technical skills were more likely to use open access than junior faculty. Major barriers to OA usage were related to ICT infrastructure, awareness, skills, author-pay model, and copyright and plagiarism concerns. Interviews with librarians revealed that there was a strong support for promoting OA issues on campus; however, this positive support with various open access-related tasks did not translate into actual action. It is thus important for librarians and OA administrators to consider all these factors for effective implementation of OA projects in research and academic institutions.

CONCLUSION: This is the first comprehensive and detailed study focusing on the health sciences faculty's and librarians' behaviours and perceptions of open access initiatives in Tanzania and reveals findings that are useful for

planning and implementing open access initiatives in other institutions with similar conditions.

A structured questionnaire was used to collect data about (1) Awareness of OA issues: level of awareness about initiatives and terms related to the OA movement; and sources for faculty OA awareness "The majority of respondents (93.5%; n=276) in this study were aware of OA issues. Among those 93.5% respondents, most faculty were familiar with OA journals (78.3%; n=216). Other terms that faculty were familiar with were IR (36.6%; n=101), self-archiving (20.7%; n=57) and the Budapest OA initiative (8.3%; n=23). The main sources of OA awareness to faculty were colleagues (54.9%; n=147), followed by workshops/seminars (32.1%; n=86), and other Universities' authorities (28.7%; n=77) . Other sources of awareness as identified by faculty in the "other" category included the following: ICT staff, and undergraduate and postgraduate training within the country.

(2) Utilization of OA scholarly communication: frequency and percentage of faculty's work disseminated via OA venue; experience in OA publishing; and type of depositors in OA venue

"Most academics used OA venues for accessing scientific works that are freely available on the web more than publishing their own research outputs. The study results indicated that the majority of faculty (84.7%; n=250) accessed OA content, while two thirds (64.4%; n=190) of respondents reported to have used OA venues to disseminate their research materials."

"The study findings further indicated that a small proportion of faculty's research materials was made available in OA venues. In general, faculty had published not more than 38.9% (n=74) of their journal articles, and they had self-archived not more than 26.8% (n=51) of their book chapters in the last five years"

"The findings showed that over half of faculty members actually deposited their research outputs themselves (58.6%; n=92). Collaborators also played a key role in assistant faculty to publish their research work in OA venues, accounting for 53.5% (n=84). Other department staff (9.5%, n=22), student assistants (8.7%, n=20), and librarians (5.6%, n=13) self-archived for faculty less frequently. Faculty also identified other people who posted content online for them including ICT staff, publishers, Phd/Masters supervisors, and conference organizers."

(3) Faculty perceptions on OA practices: attitude towards OA approaches; management of IR; need for peer review system in IR; types of IR content; and acceptable use of IR

"Most faculty members indicated that it was a major problem to disseminate their research outputs, as indicated in both categories as a "problem" (31%; n=87) and "very big problem" (22.4%; n=63)."

(4) Factors that inhibit faculty to make available their research in OA venues

"About two-thirds (67%; n=177) indicated slow internet connectivity as a major barrier towards publishing in OA venues as indicated in Table 6. Other barriers that inhibited faculty to use OA were lack of awareness about OA publishing (58%; n=154), inadequate skills to publish in OA venues (53%; n=141). Other barriers of importance were lack of reliable electricity, the OA journals author pay model, fear to violate publishers' copyright policies, and plagiarism"

"Individual characteristics were found to play a great role in influencing faculty participation in OA scholarly communication. On one hand, individual traits such as professional rank, technical skills, and age were found to influence OA usage in the surveyed study. The study findings revealed that senior faculty with proficient technical skills are more likely to use OA than those faculty members at the lower professional levels"

HIFA profile: Irina Ibraghimova is a medical librarian, based in Croatia, and works with health care professionals in the countries of the Former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe, and Africa. Her interests include evidence-based practice (both in health care and in library/informatics field). ibra AT