Dazzling technologies’: Addressing the d…

Dazzling technologies’: Addressing the digital divide in the Southern African universities :
The ‘digital divide’ is both an infrastructural reality and a metaphor for Africa’s position in the global economy. We live in an era that defines itself by the extent to which it interacts, creates and shares knowledge globally, using the network of advanced telecommunications, the Internet. Southern African countries, their universities and research communities, are recognising that focusing purely on basic network infrastructure is inadequate to the needs of scholarly research and higher education in the 21st century. Southern African universities must acquire the means to participate effectively in global knowledge production. In particular, they must adopt and use advanced telecommunications infrastructure in the form of National Research and Education Networks or NRENs and a regional REN to connect students and researchers across national borders.
Yet the means to share knowledge is not sufficient to bring about a healthy knowledge economy. A paradigm shift has to be made from a purely technological view of the issues, to a full recognition of the interplay between technological infrastructure and the developmental and knowledge purposes to which it is put.
This article provides an overview of the emerging NREN landscape, noting developments under way that are intended to promote and facilitate excellence in scientific networking in the region. It discusses the constraints and enabling conditions for overcoming the digital divide in the Southern African higher education context. Finally, it proposes a rudimentary performance indicator framework for assessing progress.

URL : http://link.wits.ac.za/journal/AJIC10-Kotecha.pdf

Copyright and education in Africa: Lesso…

Copyright and education in Africa: Lessons on African copyright and access to knowledge
The African Copyright and Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) project is a pan-African research network of academics and researchers from law, economics and the information sciences, spanning Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. Research conducted by the project was designed to investigate the extent to which copyright is fulfilling its objective of facilitating access to knowledge, and learning materials in particular, in the study countries. The hypotheses tested
during the course of research were that: (a) the copyright environments in study countries are not maximising access to learning materials, and (b) the copyright environments in study countries can be changed to increase access to learning materials. The hypotheses were tested through both doctrinal legal analysis and qualitative interview-based analysis of practices and perceptions among relevant stakeholders. This paper is a comparative review of some of the key findings across the eight

URL : http://link.wits.ac.za/journal/AJIC10-Schonwetter.pdf

Research productivity-visibility-accessibility and scholarly communication in Southern African universities

The project for the revitalisation of Southern Africa’s higher education sector is dependent on, among other things, the capacity of the region’s universities to produce research, to communicate that research to a broad public audience and to use the research output in the process of educating future generations of graduates. Given this context, research output in the great majority of Southern African universities is barely visible.

While the introduction of new digital media may offer greater accessibility and expanded opportunities for the visibility of scholarly communication, this may be insufficient to meet the needs of the many scholars and other actors who seek to build on existing bodies of knowledge, whether to advance society or in order to create knowledge for its own sake.

This article reports the findings of two 2008 studies – The state of public science in the SADC region and Opening access to knowledge in Southern African universities. Working within a frame which understands knowledge produced in universities as a public good, this article examines the issues at play in terms of the productivity-visibility-accessibility of scholarly communications in regional higher education.

The conclusion discusses a possible approach to improve such productivity-visibility-accessibility, through the adoption of a strategic vision of open access to knowledge and through consideration of two breakthroughs pertinent to achieving a vision of revitalised higher education in the region.

URL : http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/handle/10539/19768?show=full

Access to Africa’s knowledge: Publishing…

Access to Africa’s knowledge: Publishing development research and measuring value :
This paper reviews, critically, the discourse of research publication policy and the directives of the regional and global organisations that advise African countries with respect to their relevance to African scholarly communication. What emerges is a readiness to use the concepts and language of the public good, making claims for the power of technology to resolve issues of African development. However, when it comes to implementing scholarly publication policies, this vision of technological
power and development-focused scientific output is undermined by a reversion to a conservative research culture that relies on competitive systems for valuing and accrediting scholarship, predicated upon the systems and values managed by powerful global commercial publishing consortia.
The result is that the policies put in place to advance African research effectively act as an impediment to ambitions for a revival of a form of scholarship that could drive continental growth. While open access publishing models offer solutions to the marginalisation of African research, the paper argues that what is also needed is a re-evaluation of the values that underpin the recognition of scholarly publishing, to better align with the continent’s articulated research goals.

URL : http://link.wits.ac.za/journal/AJIC10-Gray.pdf

Preserving repository content: practical…

Preserving repository content: practical steps for repository managers :
The stated aim of most repositories is to provide permanent open access to the material therein. Why, then, have so few repositories implemented practical action plans for long term preservation of their content? Although a number of preservation tools and services already exist, until now few have addressed the specific needs of repositories; in practical terms they have necessitated action that is additional rather than integral to repository workflow. Repository content is typically highly varied and complex, while descriptive metadata and file formats are used inconsistently and deposited by those without knowledge or expertise in managing digital assets. The JISC-funded KeepIt project is bringing together existing preservation tools and services with appropriate training and advice on preservation strategy, policy, costs, metadata, storage, format management and trust to enable the participating repository managers to formulate practical and achievable preservation plans. From the point of view of the repository manager, this presentation summarises the activities of the KeepIt project, describes the impact that the project has had on the participating repositories, and suggests steps that other repository managers might take to ensure preservation readiness.
URL : http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/21240/

Alternative Impact Measures for Open Acc…

Alternative Impact Measures for Open Access Documents? An examination how to generate interoperable usage information from distributed open access services :
Publishing and bibliometric indicators are of utmost relevance for scientists and research
institutions as the impact or importance of a publication is mostly regarded to be equivalent
to a citation based indicator, e.g. in form of the Journal Impact Factor or the Hirsch-Index.
Performance measurement both on an individual and institutional level depends strongly on
these impact scores. This contribution shows that most common methods to assess the
impact of scientific publications often discriminate open access publications – and by that
reduce the attractiveness of Open Access for scientists. Assuming that the motivation to use
open access publishing services (e.g. a journal or a repository) would increase if these
services would convey some sort of reputation or impact to the scientists, alternative models
of impact are discussed.
Prevailing research results indicate that alternative metrics based on usage information of
electronic documents are suitable to complement or to relativize citation based indicators.
Furthermore an insight into the project Open Access Statistics OAS is given. OAS
implemented an infrastructure to collect document-related usage information from
distributed open access repositories in an aggregator service in order to generate
interoperable document access information according to three standards (COUNTER, LogEc,
IFABC). The service also guarantees the deduplication of users and identical documents on
different servers. In a second phase it is not only planned to implement added services as
recommender features, but also to evaluate alternative impact metrics based on usage
patterns of electronic documents.

URL : http://www.ifla.org/files/hq/papers/ifla76/72-herb-en.pdf

Ireland’s National Portal for Open Acce…

Ireland’s National Portal for Open Access to Research Goes Live :
reland’s new national portal for Open Access to Irish published research goes live today.
RIAN ( http://www.rian.ie ) will act as a single point of access to national research output, and contains content harvested from the institutional repositories of the seven Irish Universities and Dublin Institute of Technology. RIAN will significantly increase the visibility and impact of Irish research and will expand to harvest content from other Irish Open Access providers as the service develops.
A national network of institutional repositories will increase the exposure of national research output, and allows services, such as enhanced searching, and statistics generation, to be developed using economies of scale. RIAN will demonstrate the impact of research to potential funders, who recognise the value of wider research dissemination.
The Irish Government has identified growth in research as critical to its future as a knowledge economy. Raising the research profile is a key strategy in the Universities’ strategic plans, and the ability to showcase research output and identify institutional research strengths is extremely important in attracting new funding and high quality staff.
The development of RIAN was managed by the Irish Universities Association Librarians’ Group and is supported by the Association. This three year project was equally funded by the Universities and the Irish Government’s Strategic Innovation Fund which is administered by the Higher Education Authority.

URL : http://www.iua.ie/media-and-events/press-releases/releases/2007/RIANgoesLive8June10.html