United Republic of Tanzania

Open Access is a new term to most scholars working in academic institutions in Tanzania. Three Open Access journals are published in the country: Dar Es Salaam Medical Students' Journal published by Tanzania Medical Students’ Association, Tanzania Journal of Health Research published by the National Institute for Medical Research and Tanzania Veterinary Journal (The Tropical Veterinarian) published by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Sokoine University of Agriculture.

Researchers from Tanzania publish articles in international Open Access journals, for example 504 articles have been published with BioMed Central – an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the Open Access publishing model. 272 articles have been published in Public Library of Science (PLoS) Open Access journals.

Enabling Environment:

The successes of Open Access in Tanzania depend on number of factors including the following:

  • Open Access champions (authors, editors, librarians, research administrators) practising Open Access publishing and setting up Open Access repositories.
  • ICT infrastructure including internet connectivity.

ICT

Tanzania is connected to Fibre Optic marine cable by SEACOM. In Tanzania there is a tax waiver for importing computers and its accessories. Thus all telecommunication companies in the country are offering internet mobile services as a result. Those with smart phones can access e-resouces in html, word, PowerPoint and pdf format.

Science Research and Development (R&D)

In 2009 the government of Tanzania announced a funding increase for R&D from 0.3 per cent to one per cent of GDP — six years ahead of schedule. Five priority areas have been identified for the raised budget:

  1. training scientists and researchers;
  2. improving R&D infrastructure and facilities;
  3. facilitating the use of research findings and technology harmonisation;
  4. directing research and technology towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and
  5. coordinating and evaluating science and technology performance.

The first allocation of 30 billion Tanzanian shillings (US$20 million) for the 2010/2011 financial year to the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) – a state-run body mandated to advance scientific research for the country's development – was a thirty-fold increase from 2009 for the agency, which is emerging as the country's main research coordinator and funder. For the first time, R&D has been identified as a priority area in the Tanzanian budget and much of the support will go to training new scientists. The government’s decision to triple the research budget in the next financial year (the proposed 100 billion Tanzanian shillings) should make a big difference in all the sectors. Being an agriculture-driven economy, research on better seeds, plant adaptation to regions, crop diseases, pest control, new farming methods and so on, is needed to boost food production. The health sector is another key area where the government intends to allocate funds for research purposes.

Education

In Tanzania, education is treated as a strategic agent for changing mindset and for the creation of a well-educated nation; sufficiently equipping them with the knowledge needed to competently and competitively solve the development challenges facing the nation. This notion has been incorporated into Tanzania Vision 2025, which sets the overall strategic direction for development of the country.

Potential Barriers:

The barriers for Open Access initiatives in Tanzania override the enabling environment. The following are some of them:

  • Low awareness about Open Access initiatives and intellectual property rights (copyright).
  • Misperceptions that Open Access interferes with publisher’s economic gain and that Open Access content is of low quality.
  • Lack of institutional and national advocacy campaigns and poor institutional support on Open Access from top leadership.

In addition, Frankwell Wilson Dulle in the PhD study “An Analysis of Open Access Scholarly Communication in Tanzanian Public Universities” identified several other constraints for researchers' uptake of OA including:

  • 44% of respondents mentioned the lack of adequate skills for Open Access publishing;
  • 51% of respondents mentioned the likelihood that Open Access publications would be misused or plagiarised;
  • 55,2% of respondents had a general perception that Open Access publications were of low quality compared to traditional publications;
  • 35,4% of respondents worried about the long-term availability of Open Access publications.

In the study, slow internet speed was reported by the researchers as the major reason for low usage of Open Access content (low bandwidth available at the public universities).

Editorial analysis in The Citizen states that research is useless if the findings are not put to productive use. A number of institutions, including universities, which invest heavily in research, end up with a lot of information in files locked in libraries and laboratories, which if implemented, would make a huge difference in the lives of their people. The resources invested in research must be recouped by making use of the knowledge to improve the lives of the people and society, in general. Research should find its rightful place by implementing those findings instead of letting the knowledge gather dust on shelves in the various institutions.

Major Projects/Initiatives:

Dar Es Salaam Medical Students' Journal published by Tanzania Medical Students’ Association endeavours to disseminate research findings mainly of medical students. The journal publishes original research, case report/case series, letter to the editor, reviews of health related issues in medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, public and allied health sciences. This journal provides Open Access (OA) to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

Tanzania Journal of Health Research (TJHR) aims to facilitate the advance of health sciences by publishing high quality research and review articles that communicate new ideas and developments in biomedical and health research. TJHR is a peer reviewed OA journal published as a part of the Tanzania Health Research User’s Trust Fund. The journal is abstracted on African Index Medicus and PubMed. It is targeted to any readers interested in health research issues in Tanzania, including priority health research, its planning, funding, implementation, and utilization of findings. It is also aimed at non-specialist scientists, policy and decision makers and the general public.

The Tanzania Veterinary Journal (The Tropical Veterinarian) published by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Sokoine University of Agriculture, is an OA journal, which publishes original contribution to veterinary science, animal science and production, and allied sciences including new techniques and developments in veterinary medicine. The target readers are scientists and researchers, veterinary clinicians, field officers and policy makers. The Journal publishes editorial comments, policy and professional matters, field and clinical reports, scientific papers and abstracts of congresses and symposia, book reviews, short communications, mini reviews, letters to the editor, announcements, calendars, leisure and obituary.

University of Dar es Salaam Library held five sensitization workshops on establishing OA repositories country-wide in 2009. In October 2010, the library held a public seminar during International OA Week to sensitize academics, students and the general public on OA benefits. Speakers were Paul S. Muneja, Africa Bwamkuu, Consolatha Mallya and Cyril Patrick. Over 30 participants attended including library and information sciences academics and librarians from different academic institutions in Tanzania. Most of the participants were not aware of OA but by the end of the workshop they all agreed on the benefits of OA in research and called for an increase in awareness campaigns.

University of Dar Es Salaam is a partner in the Irish African Partnership for Research Capacity Building (IAP). Through its Open Access repository, IAP brings together universities of Ireland, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda in a unique, high-level partnership to develop a coordinated approach to research capacity building in order to make an effective contribution to the reduction of poverty.

Details of Key Organizations:

Dar Es Salaam Medical Students' Journal: Syriacus Buguzi, Editor-in-Chief, Tanzania Medical Students’ Association (TAMSA), P.O. Box 65007, Dar-es-Salaam, dmsjournal(at)gmail.com, tamsa(at)muhas.ac.tz.

Tanzania Journal of Health Research: Dr Leonard E.G. Mboera, Editor, National Institute for Medical Research, PO Box 9653 Dar es Salaam, Tel.: +255 22 2130770/ 212, Fax: +255 22 2130660, lmboera(at)nimr.or.tz, 

The Tanzania Veterinary Journal (The Tropical Veterinarian): Dr Joshua J. Malago, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Sokoine, P.O. Box 3018, Chuo Kikuu, Morogoro, Tel.: +255 23 260 4980, Fax: +255 23 260 4647, jmalago(at)suanet.ac.tz  malagojj(at)yahoo.com

University of Dar es Salaam Library: Paul S. Muneja, EIFL Open Access country coordinator, pmuneja(at)udsm.ac.tz.

Past and Future OA Related Activities:

Frankwell Wilson Dulle in the PhD study “An Analysis of Open Access (OA) Scholarly Communication in Tanzanian Public Universities” conducted a survey of researchers (lectures to professors, 398 returned questionnaires) and 63 interviews with the university policy makers from Ardhi University, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Mzumbe University, Open University of Tanzania, Sokoine University of Agriculture and University of Dar es salaam.

Key findings include:

  • The majority of both the policy makers (90.5%) and researchers (72.1%) were aware of OA. 42% of researchers and 33% of policy makers learnt of OA from their colleagues, 19,3% of researchers and 19% of policy makers learnt of it through publishers' promotion and 18,8% of researchers and 25.4% of policy makers learnt of it by following the Internet debate. The remaining 29,9% learnt of OA at workshops/conferences, through library promotion, by chance while surfing the internet, and during postgraduate studies abroad.
  • The majority (62,3%) of the researchers claimed to have had access to OA materials and only 18,6% claimed to have published in OA. Tanzanian researchers predominantly used OA content as opposed to disseminating their scholarly content in OA.
  • The researchers from the biomedical sciences were more involved in disseminating their research findings using OA than those from all other sub-research disciplines.
  • 79.4% of the policy makers claimed to know OA journals but few had heard about other OA initiatives.
  • 68.3% of policy makers reported that OA has not yet been discussed at strategic or business meetings; 23.8% of the interviewees claimed that OA had been raised but not yet taken up; and 7.9% reported that their universities intended to set up institutional repositories (IRs).
  • The majority of policy makers (94.4%) and researchers (83,1%) stated that dissemination of research output at their universities was a problem as most of it is being documented as grey literature in print formats.
  • The majority of policy makers (96.8%) and researchers (96,5%) considered IRs important for their institutions.
  • The most preferred IR content, were conference papers, peer reviewed journal articles, theses/dissertations and teaching materials. Research reports, consultancy reports and annual institutional reports were also highly ranked by the researchers for inclusion in the IRs.
  • The majority of researchers (72,9%) would allow any use of their works deposited in the IRs as long as users provided proper acknowledgement. Many (52%) of the respondents would only allow usage of their works upon users' registration. Only 23,4% would allow users to add comments or notes on their deposited works.
  • 61,3% of researchers and 61.9% of policy makers preferred the university library as the most appropriate unit for managing IR, 19% preferred the university-wide research coordination unit, 12.7% of policy makers preferred computer/ICT unit and 11,8% of researches and 3.2% of policy makers chose faculty/institute/directorate.
  • The majority of the respondents were very positive about OA.
  • Despite the fact that many researchers in Tanzania public universities do not publish in OA, the majority of the respondents (78%) were optimistic about OA publishing in the future.
  • 92.1% of policy makers would support or would likely support establishment of a policy requiring their faculty to deposit research output in IRs; 87% would support or likely support the recommendation for researchers to retain copyright for their publications; 85.7% would support or likely support their institutions to sponsor article processing charges for their employees to publish in OA journals; 82.5% would support or likely support their institutions to sponsor publication of their institutional journals so that they are made OA and lastly 82.5% would support or likely support the explicit recognition or reward for OA publications published by their employees.

References:

Frankwell Wilson Dulle (2010). “An Analysis of Open Access Scholarly Communication in Tanzanian Public Universities,” University of South Africa (accessed August, 31, 2011).

Frankwell Wilson Dulle, MK Minishi-Majanja and L.M. Cloete (2010). “Factors Influencing the Adoption of Open Access Scholarly Communication in Tanzanian Public Universities,” 76th IFLA General Conference and Assembly, 10-15 August 2010, Gothenburg, Sweden (accessed August, 31, 2011).

Frankwell Wilson Dulle and MK Minishi-Majanja (2009). “Researchers' Perspectives on Open Access Scholarly Communication in Tanzanian Public Universities,” South African Journal of Information Management, Vol 11, No 4 (2009) (accessed August, 31, 2011).

 

(Modified on December 2013)

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