Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, March 27, 2008

IR usage in developing countries

Bring on the IRs!  Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, March 26, 2008.

Having been alerted to the existence of statistical tools for measuring usage of articles deposited in a number of Institutional Repositories, I have collected some very encouraging statistics about how IRs are being used in developing countries.

The number of IRs using this software (developed at the University of Tasmania) is limited at present, but the following sites are among those I found that record usage by date and by country:

- University of Otago eprints Repository, New Zealand

- University of Strathclyde, UK

- African Higher Education Research Online

- Rhodes eprints repository

- E-LIS Repository

As some examples in the table below show, the full text download usage by developing countries was very encouraging indeed. India, China, Brazil, South Africa are among the busiest user-countries, and the less scientifically advanced countries are almost all represented as you go down the usage table.

Institutional repository University of Otago, based in New Zealand University of Strathclyde, based in the UK Rhodes e-Research, based in South Africa E-LIS, based in Italy
Period of usage 2007 2007 2007 ?
Number of records in repository 666 5052 808 7525
Full text downloads
From Canada 2977 2070 10413 20934
China 4673 1649 10196 22879
India 5022 1032 27609 33125
South Africa 1029 175 120598 5556
UK 8926 12664 25392 63362
USA 16830 44270 145356 1415807

. . . .and on to several hundred other countries

Encouraged, I searched other IRs and found the same story unfolding. Multiply the number of registered IRs (> 1000) by the usage figures and you can see that developing countries are using IRs a lot! ...[I]t is very encouraging to see how IRs are closing the N to S, S to N and S to S information gaps that we used to talk about. The low-cost nature of establishing IRs allows institutes in economically constrained countries to be part of the global research community, readily using and exchanging essential information....

Not only do these statistics provide a true record of the need for the research information deposited, but they even provide information on the specific research that scholars are searching, an invaluable insight into priorities for development programmes. And of course, authors will be greatly encouraged to witness usage figures of their published research, and institutes will be happy to see their organisations high on the research map.

We can earnestly hope that someone – soon – will carry out an authoritative study on the usage of IR material. This would be a magnificent contribution of value to many sectors. Perhaps someone is …?.