Original Research

Usage of institutional repositories in Zimbabwe’s public universities

Mass M. Tapfuma, Ruth G. Hoskins
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 21, No 1 | a1039 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v21i1.1039 | © 2019 Mass M. Tapfuma, Ruth G. Hoskins | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 September 2018 | Published: 04 June 2019

About the author(s)

Mass M. Tapfuma, Department of Information Studies, School of Social Sciences, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Ruth G. Hoskins, Department of Information Studies, School of Social Sciences, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The concept of institutional repositories (IRs) has gained traction across the globe; Zimbabwe’s public universities have established IRs to capture, store, archive and widely disseminate their institutional intellectual capital. However, research output from the repositories remains obscure, hence the motivation to explore the use of IRs in the universities to ascertain if they are getting a return on their investment in IR technologies.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to establish the range of items contained in the repositories; establish the growth of the repositories and determine the software platforms being used.

Method: A mixed methods approach was used, with methodological triangulation. Study participants included eight public universities, library directors, assistant or IR librarians; complete enumeration was done. Data were collected through questionnaires, interviews and bibliometric analysis of IRs, policy documents, Directory of Open Access Repositories and Registry of Open Access Repositories. Qualitative data were analysed thematically; Statistical Package for the Social Sciences was adopted to analyse quantitative data and generate tables.

Results: The IRs largely contain peer-reviewed content, while the DSpace software is popularly used. Most of the repositories are searchable on the Internet. The biggest repository has acquired 2520 items in 10 years, while the smallest one has 46 items in 7 years. The population of the IRs is slow because of various challenges.

Conclusion: The repositories have not been successful because populating them is a challenge. This could partly be because of libraries being too selective about content going into the IRs. Adopting the DSpace software by the universities points to long-term preservation plans for their intellectual output stored in the repositories for posterity.


Keywords

Institutional repositories; public universities; academic libraries; self-archiving; public university libraries; Zimbabwe.

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