Survey on Open Access Availability

Brief on Survey on Open Access Availability in Developing and Transitional Countries

Between March and June 2013, IFLA Leaders Associates conducted a survey to explore the availability of OA Literature in developing and transition countries in Western and Central Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania in order to identify and determine the level of knowledge about Open Access in selected countries. 7 members of the working group from 5 different regions (Jereny Lachal – France, Rosemary Shafack – Cameroon, Atarino Helieisar – Federated States of Micronesia, Jorge Ruiz Vaca – Mexico and Victoria Okojie – Nigeria) were involved in this study. A questionnaire was prepared on Survey Monkey service in English and made accessible to respondents via Internet while printed versions were equally made available for respondents with poor Internet connectivity. The target sample population were faculty members in tertiary institutions; graduate students, librarians, other relevant stakeholder organizations and publishers. A total of 100 questionnaires were filled and returned.

In summary, the results of the study suggests that there is still great need for IFLA and other stakeholders to engage more in advocacy to support Open Access

Background

Since becoming a formal signatory to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities in 2010, IFLA has been actively advocating for open access policies internationally. Through the creation of an Open Access Task Force, IFLA set  an agenda with objectives to guide its efforts aimed at  improving free access to quality information resources.

In order to promote and implement the organization’s position on Open Access (OA), Associates of the IFLA Leaders programme decided to carry out a project to explore the availability of OA literature in developing and transition countries in Western and Central Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania in order to identify the main actors working on Open Access and determine the level of knowledge of the professional community on the subject in selected countries.

Methodology

General objectives:

  • To improve IFLA’s knowledge of the state of Open Access around the world;
  • To enhance IFLA’s position and advocacy tools on OA;

Specific objectives:

  • To conduct a survey in developing and transition countries in order to:
  • Identify institutions that had signed the Berlin Declaration on OA and the main and most dynamic actors on OA;

Determine the status of OA in selected countries;

  • Determine the level of awareness of stakeholders about the subject;
  • Determine the activities and position of Policy makers on OA;
  • Determine the impact of OA on the population;
  • Identify the national and regional policies available;
  • Develop strategies for promoting OA.

Duration:

Two months - from March 1st to June 31st, 2013 

Response Rate:

98 professionals from academic institutions, university and public libraries, and the book trade, among others.

Plan of Action:

A questionnaire was sent out divided into two main sections: (1) general information and (2) knowledge on Open Access. A pilot study was carried out where each Group member was requested to administer 5 questionnaires to randomly selected respondents. Some of the questions in the questionnaire were amended to make them clearer after the feedback from the pilot study.

The target groups of the survey were faculty members in tertiary institutions, graduate students, librarians, other relevant stakeholder organizations and publishers.

Main results

General findings:

A hundred filled questionnaires were returned. The profile of the respondents was as follows:

  • Approximately 60% were from Africa;
  • 55% were female;
  • 68% were within the 30yrs-49yrs age range;
  • Approximately 50% were from academic institutions/university libraries;
  • 16% were from the public library sector.
  • 49% were in some form of managerial position (head of department/division/university librarian) in their institutions and as such, could make decisions and know about policies in their institutions.

OA-related findings:

KEY FACTS

  • While 56% of respondents had good knowledge of OA at the personal level, 32% stated that their institutions either had little or no knowledge of OA;
  • 99% of the respondents would support advocacy for OA in their institutions;
  • 55% were not sure if their institutions had any policy on OA;
  • 83% said their institutions had not signed the Berlin Declaration;
  • 80% preferred workshops/ conferences/seminars to learn more about OA

About 49% of the respondents were in some form of managerial position (head of department/division/university librarian) in their institutions and as could make decisions and to know about policies in their institutions. Many of the respondents were aware of OA at the personal level but 32% of the respondents stated that their institutions either had little or no knowledge of OA.

The respondents were asked what they felt the benefits of OA were. Wider access to published works, increased visibility and research impact and increased visibility of researchers, were the most popular reasons while cheaper publishing and increased research funding were the least popular reasons.

Although 99% of the respondents stated that they would support advocacy for OA in their institutions, as many as 55% were not sure if their institutions had any policy on OA. All these suggest that there is opportunity for IFLA and other stakeholders to do more advocacy on OA because most staff of academic institutions understand the benefits and importance of OA and are willing to support it. They survey results also suggest that the management of the institutions are positively disposed to developing and implementing policies that facilitate OA.

When asked if their institutions had signed the Berlin Declaration on OA, 83% of the respondents said No. This implies that there is an urgent need for advocacy and that the respondents will be well disposed to it. The respondents also showed a great preference for workshops/conferences/seminars (80%) as the mode through which they would like to learn more about OA.

Conclusion

In summary, the survey results suggest that there is need for IFLA and other stakeholders to engage more in advocacy, especially through workshops and conferences, to promote the adoption of the principles of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge. This strategy should focus on Africa where the knowledge of OA appears particularly underdeveloped and follow the following objectives:

  • Create awareness by promoting the IFLA statement on OA through seminars, workshops and other capacity building training programmes.
  • Engage with IFLA members and other stakeholders through online discussion fora
  • Conduct research that could, cover case studies and best practices in adoption of Open Access initiatives;
  • Write and publish journal articles and books on the subject with a view to promoting initiatives from different regions.
  • Provide a platform for active engagement between authors, publishers, booksellers, aggregators, vendors, librarians and users to have robust debates that focus on how all stakeholders can deal with the issue to bring about a win-win situation for everybody.
  • Provide Information Literacy classes that support teachers, students and other users in use of Open Access resources.
  • Work with other stakeholders to help develop sustainable business models for Open Access.
  • Carry out advocacy visits for the adoption of IFLA Open Access principles and policies in organizations and institutions.
  • Use the Statement as a platform to urge institutions to sign up for the Berlin Declaration on Open Access.
  • Use the IFLA Statement on OA as a tool to work with institutions to develop their policies on Open Access.

Jeremy Lachal

Last update: 1 August 2014


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