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UTILIZATION OF OPEN ACCESS RESOURCES FOR ACADEMIC PRODUCTIVITY BY ACADEMIC LIBRARIANS IN FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES IN NORTHWESTERN STATES OF NIGERIA
This research was carried out to investigate the utilization of open access resources by academic librarians for academic productivity in Federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria. To achieve the objectives of the study, six research questions were set and answered for the study. Two hypotheses were formulated, and tested. The research questions raised among others include; what is the level of awareness of open access by academic librarians in Federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigerian? What is the level of usage of open access resources for academic productivity by academic librarians in Federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria? What factors militate against the use of open access resources by academic librarians in Federal universities in North Western States of Nigeria? The hypotheses formulated for this study were: there is no significant relationship between awareness and use of open access resources for research productivity of academic librarians in Federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria. There is no significant relationship between use of open access resources and research productivity of academic librarians in Federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria. Survey research method was adopted for the study while structured questionnaire was the instrument used for data collection. The population comprised academic librarians in Federal universities in Northwestern States of
Nigeria. Data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics for the research questions and for the hypothesis Person’s Product Moment Correlation (PPMC) was used in order to test the
relationship between the variables under study. The findings from the study revealed that majority of the respondents indicated high level of awareness about open access publications (OAP). Although they showed some level of awareness and familiarity with OA, their awareness was hinged mainly on the nature and types of open access and not on open access initiatives. The study also discovered that librarians portray high level of usage of open access resources. Even though majority claimed to have accessed open access resources, majority of the respondents acknowledged that they do not make their scholarly output via same source. The study revealed that inadequate funding for building and upgrading ICT infrastructure in academic and research institutions, unstable power supply, unavailability or slow Internet connection, technological barriers from digital rights, lack of sensitization to adopt open access, intellectual freedom issues (such as privacy, copyright, censorship) and lack of Skill on how to use ICT facilities were the major factors militating against the use of open access resource by academic librarians. In view of the above findings, it was therefore, recommended that advocacy on other forms of OA initiatives have become so imperative as this would help in inculcating and improving the level of awareness on open access initiatives. There is also the need for sensitization campaign to encourage librarians to publish via open access models of scholarly communication so as to contribute to the existing body of knowledge not mere consumers. Finally, adequate funding is seriously needed for building and upgrading poor ICT infrastructure in academic and research institutions. Unstable power supply, unavailability or slow Internet connection should be improved. Likewise measures need to be taken on technological barriers arising from digital rights, intellectual freedom issues (such as privacy, copyright and censorship) need to be addressed. Adequate training on skill on how to use ICTs facilities is equally needed. This could be achieved by collaborating with institutions, government agencies, open access related initiatives and agencies.
1.1 Background to the Study
The emergence of information and communication technology is imperative not only for scholars and researchers doing scientific research but also for the expansion of global science and technology knowledge base. Billions of dollars is invested worldwide in research and development in order to solve scientific, technological and social problems and to advance our understanding of the present and the past (Moller, 2006). Most of these research findings are communicated in scholarly journals that are disseminated on the basis of subscriptions or licenses. In the US alone, the scientific, technical and medical publishing market is estimated at between $7-11 billion (OECD, 2004; as cited in Moller, 2006). With the transformation brought about by the Open Access (OA), different models of scholarly publishing are being developed in order to enhance access and utilization of information resources, manage costs and optimize collaborative research and productivity.
The importance of publication in the growth and development of the library profession, researchers and academic librarians cannot be over emphasized. It is essential for problem-solving, which leads to dynamism in library services as a response to changing times and environment (Ogbomo, 2010). The scholarly information environment is now undergoing profound change as a result of new technologies allowing new modes of research dissemination, changing research practices and needs, and increased focus on research performance (Houghton et al, 2003; 2004; Van de Sompel et. al, 2004; Houghton, 2005a; 2005b). As a result, the traditional publishing system no longer serves well the needs of researchers for uninhibited access to the research findings of others, or the needs of their funders for cost effective dissemination of findings in order to maximize the economic and social returns to their investment in Research and Development R&D (Houghton and Sheena 2006). The development of open access models was a result of what has been observed over the years to respond to risen
costs of publishing as well as the increasing prices of scholarly journals published by commercial publishers (Abdulkadir and Mohammed, 2013).Houghton and Sheehan (2006) opined that identifying access and efficiency limitations under the subscription-based publishing model has dominated scientific publishing.
In an academic set up the importance of research cannot be overemphasized. Current information is very essential for researchers to be up-to-date in their fields. Hence, they depend on scholarly journals to meet their information requirements. The library being the information provider subscribes to journals in various disciplines in accordance with the thrust of the parent institution. But with the tremendous growth of specialization in various disciplines, the number of journals to be subscribed has increased. The prohibitive factor for the library is the escalating cost of the journals and the stringent library budget. This has led to a phenomenon called “Scholarly Crisis”, where the libraries have to meet the users growing demands and journal prices (be it print or electronic) are shooting up, and while on the other hand the library budgets are shrinking. At this juncture, “Open Access” (OA) resources have dawned as boom to both the academic users and the library managers (Joshi, Vatnal & Manjunath, 2012). OA essentially means free access for the users. This is generally referred to the documents available on the Web and also called public domain documents. This term is commonly associated with scholarly material. Open Access (OA) means that electronic scholarly articles are available freely at the point of use. This is a recent movement in communication of scholarly research, wherein neither readers nor a reader’s institution are charged for access to articles or other resources. OA is also known as open access publishing and free online scholarship (Kumar& Bansal, 2008).
According to Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI 2002), the concept of Open Access (OA) refers to "[the] free availability on the public internet, permitting any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without
financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the Internet itself." The only constraint is on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited (BOAI, 2002).
In another definition, Harnad (2008) described the characteristics of Open Access (OA) as "Information, which is free, immediate, permanent, full-text, on-line and accessible.” Harnad suggested three main justifications of OA: "to maximize the uptake, usage, applications and impact of the research output of your university; to measure and reward the uptake, usage, applications and impact of the research output of your university (research metrics); and to collect, manage and showcase a permanent record of the research output and impact of your university".
Research is an important ingredient to the development of any nation and most of the research findings particularly in an academic setting are made available through scholarly publications. Chiemeke et al (2009) observed that gradual decline in research output in higher education became noticeable in the late 1980s. The National Universities Commission (NUC) noted that in terms of quality and quantity, the research output of tertiary institutions in Nigeria was about the best in sub-Saharan Africa up to the late 1980s (Karani, 1997). The foundations for research are good research training and motivation, availability of equipment, and good library facilities. At the onset and acceleration of the decay in the system, these ingredients faded away. By 1996, the quantity and quality of research had declined to an all-time low (Okebukola & Solowu, 2001). Summarizing the factors that contributed to this decline from late
1988 to 1996 and subsequent collapse from 1997 to date, Okebukola (2002) maintained that: lack of research skills in modern methods, lack of equipment for carrying out state-of-the art research, overloaded teaching and administration schedules which leave little time for research, difficulty in accessing research funds and diminishing ability of seasoned and senior researchers to mentor junior researchers due to brain drain as the main factors responsible for the decline.
A major issue for academic libraries has been the ‘serials pricing crises’ of the past two decades, whereby average costs of journal subscriptions have increased exponentially, partially due to the consolidation of journal publishers. Since library budgets have not increased at an equivalent rate to journal prices, the purchasing power of individual academic libraries has decreased, forcing them to cancel subscriptions, to reallocate budget items to maintain subscriptions, or to negotiate licensing agreements whereby access is granted to “bundles” of journals at a lower price per journal. Open access represents another option for libraries to provide access to their institution’s scholarly output without the need for expensive journal subscriptions or potentially inflexible license agreements (Hurrell, 2012).
Open Access (OA) is becoming a substitute to traditional scholarly publishing methods. Some researchers and scientists think that their intellectual works and researches should be made available to the world free of cost. Scholarly research has been disseminated through journals in a discipline published by academic societies and commercial publishers. Authors submit their papers to the publishers and they are peer reviewed, edited and published. With the advent of Internet, some of the journals are published in the electronic format. This new media has changed the production and distribution or dissemination of research in the form of journals. It has dramatically reduced the time in between the production and its access. Peer reviewing and editing also takes lesser time as compared to print (Kumar& Bansal, 2008).
The Internet and computer technology have brought a growing trend among the scientific community to make Open Access (OA) to scholarly research. Open access emerged to address the problem of escalating cost of scholarly and scientific journals, which had made their access restrictive (Jain 2012). At present, authors and their institutions produce research output and submit it to the publishing agencies without receiving money from them. Publishers peer-review, edit and prepare research content for publication. Authors get their own output by paying charges to publishers. Publishers are increasing prices of journals every year. Public money is used to provide funding for research, its publication and the purchase of the published
research findings. Public funded research should be treated as a public good. Authors want to make their articles openly accessible to maximize their research impact and update in their research fields (Kumar& Bansal, 2008).
Open access is especially important for research and academic libraries since all academic institutions are research-intensive and a library's main mandate is to support the teaching, learning and research activities of their parent institutions (Jain, 2012). The outcome and the extent of the functions of the academics in creating new knowledge and innovations are forms of research productivity. Research productivity is a means by which academics contribute their own knowledge to the existing body of knowledge. This can be in form of journal articles, technical reports, books, chapters in a book, supervision and training of students, etc. The more research outcome is published in all formats the probability of availability and access to information is assured (Okafor, 2011).
Academics place emphasis on research and publications, not only because it is presumed that research enriches teaching and the learning process, contributing to the body of knowledge, but also because it is a major determinant of institutional prestige (Ochai and Nwafor, 1998) as cited in Alemna, 1998). The issue of research output is of benefit to every nation. This is due to the fact that the wealth and economic progress of a nation depends on the extent of research carried out in that country. Due to this trend, there are various ways of bibliometric studies involving research productivity. Hertzel (2003) opined that bibliometric analysis is a productivity count which is descriptive and involves countries, institutions, time periods and disciplines or subjects while literature usage count which is evaluative involves reference and citation.
There is no doubt about the fact that Open Access provides global visibility for researchers, as their research productivity can be accessed globally free of charge. This will in turn give room for easy share of ideas, results and inventions to build upon. Through Open Access research output can be accessed by wider academic constituency enhancing citation rate
of their publications, for which subscriptions would otherwise be constrained. Houghton and Sheena (2006) observed that there is evidence to show on researchers’ benefit of Open Access because it increases the impact of their research in which they invested on. Traditionally, access to journal articles is provided through subscription by learned societies or commercial publishers and the cost of providing access are met largely through subscription fees charged to readers. Open Access provide new means of scholarly research communication, that allows researchers to disseminate their findings and to maximize the impact of their findings by allowing others to access their output for maximum usability and application (Brighton, 2008). It is believed that Open Access enhances educational and research opportunities and brings the world together. Open Access also helps visibility of the hitherto unknown authors. The usage and impact of a researcher’s own findings can increase with open access, as does their ability to locate access and use the works of others (Harnad and Carr, 2000). The cost of circulation is largely eliminated with online access to marginal cost of providing access to an additional user which is close to zero. The contemporary research environment and mode of scholarly communication is fast changing. The traditional publishing system no longer serves well the need of researchers for un-inhibiting access to research findings of others, and for the research funders and government research agencies publishing through this medium is not cost effective. Yet most researchers and research funding agencies have not well articulated the benefit of open access publications well enough in its myriad facets.
Therefore, the rationale behind this study is to shade more light to academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria on their level of awareness of open access mode of scholarly communication for optimal utilization. The research would also be of significant importance in encouraging academic librarians to use and also disseminate their research outputs via open access model of scholarly communication. This will go along away in creating a benchmark for Nigeria’s involvement in myriads open access initiative. Furthermore, the study would identify factors militating against the use of open access resources by academic
librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria so that rightful adjustment and corrective measures could be made where necessary.
Consequently, the outcome of this study would hopefully contribute to providing a ground for discussion on the advantage of open access as an alternative mode of scholarly communication in a developing country like Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Open access (OA) is now going on everywhere across geographical locations in the globe, including Nigeria. Although the global pattern and level of awareness, deployment and utilization may follow the paths of digital advantage, the movement has gained tremendous pace, probably due to increased global access to the Internet, the activities of OA promoters and the pertinence of the mission of the movement. Dulle (2010), while analyzing the open access scholarly communication in public universities in Tanzania, stressed that like in many other developing countries, accessing and disseminating scholarly content is a major problem in public universities in Tanzania.
Accordingly, John (2014) stated that access to scholarly information is the biggest problem in African universities. The dearth of research and development program in African universities, access barriers to high priced scholarly literature and lack of quality research infrastructures have dampened the research spirit in African universities. The west-centered scholarly paradigm and the high costs of scholarly literature, such as journals and books, have kept the intellectual output of Africa under constant check. Dulle et al, (2001) and Chailla (2001) also reported an instance where researchers are unable to gain access to recent subscription based scholarly content due to limited university funding and libraries in particular. Apart from benefiting from several externally financed electronic information resources which are also deemed inadequate and unsustainable, most university libraries do not subscribe to journals from commercial publishers due to financial constraints (Lwoga et al, 2007). John (2014), while giving a close look at the costs of journals in major scientific fields clearly
portrayed the fact that access to a single journal in a particular field itself is very hard to obtain, while procuring enough scholarly information in that particular field remains highly impossible. For example, an institutional subscription to a bundle of seven science journals including Brain Research is charged at US$ 20,000, which is almost equivalent to a year’s journal budget for most of the African libraries. With the current price structure of scholarly publications and the amount of scholarly literature published worldwide, even the wealthiest institutions cannot purchase access to all the information that their researchers require.
A preliminary investigation revealed that federal university libraries in Northwestern States of Nigeria are facing serious financial constraints where most of the libraries could not afford subscription to scholarly journals due to budget cuts. For example, most of the e-journals in Kashim Ibrahim Library, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, apart from Science Direct that is fully subscribed by the university management, the rest of the e-journals are either under consortium or supported by international donor agencies. Even the Science Direct the university management could not provide comprehensive coverage of all the needed e-journals in the core areas. This has created barriers to information access, fostering a dependence on external funding. open access should present an opportunity for African scholars not only to learn from scholars in various parts of the world but also to share their scientific information with scholars in developed and developing countries around the world and institutional awareness as being responsible for the low uptake of the OA movement and utilization of OA resources in many of the countries in the region including Nigeria (Nwagwu, 2012). Despite the potentiality of OA resources in academic productivity this is not yet fully exploited. Gbaje (2007) found that only 20 percent of those surveyed provide access to open access resources. Meanwhile, open access emerged to address the problem of escalating cost of scholarly and scientific journals, which had made their access restrictive (Jain, 2012).
Due to the significance attached to research and academic productivity in all sectors of the various institutions, academic librarians in public universities should also be expected to
use open access resources and also to conduct research and publish their research results in scholarly outlets. It may be surprising to those who are unfamiliar with librarians’ qualifications and information service activities and requirements to expect them to engage in research (Ocholla & Ocholla, 2012). But Verzosa (2007) observed that it is very important for librarians to engage in research, as this adds value to librarianship and improve academic productivity. Unfortunately, shortage of research– oriented librarians and low utilization of Open Access resources is recognized as a problem (Verzosa, 2007), Marjorie, (2000), Sitienei& Ocholla, (2010), Ocholla, Ocholla and Onyancha (2012), despite an abundance of well-educated librarians. Research and research publications complement each other, meaning that academic librarians should not only engage in research, but also publish the outcome of their research because it is important to do so. Despite the potential for open access to resolve the above problems, unfortunately, many academic librarians are neither familiar nor have assimilated the new culture in their scholarly publishing, nor have known the advantages derivable from them in order to maximize their research productivity (Okoye & Ejikeme, 2011).
It is on the basis of the above that the study intends to find out the extent to which academic librarians in Nigerian federal universities utilize open access resources for their academic productivity.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions were set for the study: 1- What is the level of awareness of Open Access by academic in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria?
2- What is the level of usage of open access resources for research productivity by academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria?
3- What factors facilitate the use of open access resources by academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria?
4- What factors influence the research productivity of academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria?
5- What types of media do academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria use in publishing their research output?
6- What factors militate against the use of open access resources by academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria?
1- There is no significant relationship between awareness and use of open access resources for research productivity among academic librarians in federal universities in North-western States of Nigeria?
2- There is no significant relationship between use of open access resources and research productivity of academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria?
1.5 Objectives of the Study
This study has the following objectives:
1- To determine the level of awareness of open access resources by academic librarian in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria.
2- To examine the level of usage of open access resources for research productivity by academic librarian in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigerian.
3- To examine the factors that facilitates the use of open access resources by academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria.
4- To examine the factors that influence research productivity of academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria.
5- To identify the types of media used by academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria in publishing their research output.
6- To identify the factors that militates against the use of open access resources by academic librarians in federal universities in Northwestern States of Nigeria.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Access to information is essential in a fast changing global environment where development in research is based on a worldwide collaborative, cumulative, sustained efforts and self-corrective cycle of publishing, accessing and using research output in order to ensure progress in generating further findings, applications and publications. The essence of Open Access (OA) is to make public and researchers have free access and wider usage of their research findings. Through Open Access, they have a significantly larger and more diverse audience than that of any subscription-based journal, putting rich and poor on an equal scale, by providing free articles for teaching and learning and as well increase the visibility and impact of their work which would help in maximizing research productivity. Academics in developing countries are fast adapting to the Internet as a source of information for teaching and research. The outcome of this study would create awareness on open access publications to academic librarians, which would hopefully relieve some of the pressures of the serials crisis. It is also expected that the academic librarians would be relieved of subscription issues while conducting research and subsequently appreciate the opportunity of OA roles in enhancing their research visibility and productivity. Similarly, the study would be of significant value to academic librarians in Nigerian Federal Universities because it would improve their level of awareness and usage of OA publications and as well eliminate the problems bedeviling the use of Open Access which in turn increase their research productivity. Lastly, the study would be of significant value to researchers and scholars in Library and Information Science because it would contribute to the body of knowledge in Nigeria and the world at large.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study covered the utilization of Open Access resources by academic librarians in federal universities in North-western States of Nigeria in relation to their academic productivity.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
Time and funds were considered as factors that militated against the conduct of this research. Likewise, it was not easy collecting the questionnaires back from the various university libraries because the respondents delayed filling the questionnaire due to the nature of the content of the questionnaire, where in most cases they need more clarification on some of the items of the questionnaire especially, on open access initiatives. A lot of follow ups was done before the questionnaires were successfully collected.
Operational definition of Terms
The following terms are defined for the purpose of this study:
Academic Librarians: Academic librarians are professionals who work in the university library, they manage, organize, evaluate and disseminate information, providing support to members of an academic community including students, researchers and lecturing staff. Also in some instances they teach some courses in the university and their promotion guidelines are the same with lecturers in the university system.
Academic productivity: Is a means by which academics contribute their knowledge to the existing body of knowledge. This can be in form of journal articles, technical reports, books, chapters in a book, supervision and training of students, etc.
Open Access (OA): Is a means of disseminating scholarly and scientific literature over the Internet free of charge to researchers and to anyone else who might benefit from accessing the results of publicly funded research
Open Access journals OAJ: These are scholarly and scientific journals that are disseminated over the Internet free of charge to researchers and to anyone else who might benefit from accessing the results of publicly funded research.