Library Philosophy and Practice 2012

ISSN 1522-0222

Use of Open Access Journals by Lecturers at Western Delta University, Oghara, Nigeria

Oghenetega Ivwighreghweta
Readers Services Librarian
Western Delta University, Oghara
Delta State, Nigeria

Oghenovo Kelvin Onoriode
Technical Service/ICT Librarian
Western Delta University, Oghara
Delta State, Nigeria


Scholarly communication is the process through which scholars exchange information with each others. It is an important process in fostering the growth of science and technology. It is acknowledged that scholars used to communicate informally to distribute their research findings among each other until 1665 when the first journal known as "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal society and Journal de Scavans were both launched (Yiotis, 2005; Swan, 2007). These journals were mainly published by societies and non-profit making organizations (Walker, 1998) and were set up to legitimize scientific claims and summarize the already unmanageable glut of technical books (Mahoney as cited in Rathey, 1994). The Philosophical Transactions published research on a broad range of topics. In the 19th century, there was an explosion in the number of journals produced caused by the increased specialization and diversification of academic research and also inexpensive mass publication on cheap wood pulp based paper, (Valauskas, 1997). This massive increase in output meant that the societies found it more and more difficult to keep up with publishing research communication of scholars. Robert Maxwell pioneered the move toward mass commercial publication after World War II when he set up the Pergamon Press (Rambler, 1999) and this meant that by the 1960's commercial publishers were a major part of the market (Walker, 1998).

From its onset, the core value of scholarly communication has been sharing of knowledge without price and copyright restrictions. However, the joining and dominance of commercial publishers in journal publication as well as distribution after the World War 11 resulted into limitations to scholarly content access. The interest of commercial publishers has been on reaping prices from journal sales rather than facilitating knowledge sharing for further growth of science and technology. Until recently, over 2.5 million of articles published annually appeared in subscription based journals making it impossible for researchers with financial limitation to gain access to such information. (Yiotis, 2005, Moller, 2006). According to Giarlo, (2006) the exorbitant journals prices imposed by commercial publishers have forced academic institutions and libraries to reduce journal subscriptions. This resulted into access limitations as scientists may not get most of the literature deemed necessary in their scholarly work. Compared to scholars from well endowed countries, those from the developing countries are severely affected due to the widespread poverty in the latter nations. (Bjork, 2004)

In the academia, the traditional means of disseminating research materials and scholarly published journals was found to be inadequate in terms of speed and accessibility, compared to what information seekers were getting from the Internet and World Wide Web. Not only access to a myriad of information sources from all over the world was being made possible, it was in a faster, easier and cheaper mode (Kwan, 2003).

The enabling information and communication technologies (ICTs) as well as the frustrating journal prices prompted scholarly community to devise an alternative scholarly publishing system whose aim is to achieve a wider distribution of scholarly content without price or copyright restrictions to end users, thus providing impetus towards the concept of open access (Bjork, 2004, Yiatis, 2005 & Moller, 2006).

Literature Review

Open Access

There are so many definitions of OA that are broadly understood to mean making materials accessible to users at no cost (Giarlo, 2006). But more specifically, as Giarlo, 2006 explained, OA is used to describe a model of scholarly communication in which users may be freely view, download, copy, and print scholarly articles, books, conferences proceedings, squibs and so forth. This implies that the users is able freely access scholarly materials because the price of publication has been assumed by another party, usually the author, the author's institution or grant which funded the research.

"Open access" is the term used to describe literature that is available to any reader at no cost on the Internet. The copyright owner—usually the author—allows the user to freely read, download, copy, print, distribute, search, link to the full text of the article, crawl it for indexing, and use the article for lawful purposes,(Kwan 2003). In open-access journals, authors either retain copyright or are asked to transfer the copyright to the publisher. The only role of copyright in open-access literature is to give authors control of the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited (Kwan, 2003). Although open access is a concept that is most often applied to online publication, it is nonetheless compatible with print for those journals that also have a printed version. Open access is free of charge for readers of the online version, but does not exclude priced access to print versions of the same work (Ricardo & Mercè, 2004).

The revolution of Open Access since early 1990s has liberated libraries and information centers all over the world. More than ever, librarians are experiencing a rise in prestige because of their ability to contribute to the digital management of information, which somewhat was being threatened by commercial information providers of the Internet era (Swan, & Chan, 2010)

The model of open access that exists is divided into two broad types (OASIS; Albert, 2006; Rossini, 2007 & Ghosh, 2009). They are the open access journal ("gold road") and open access repositories or institutional repositories ("green road"). Examples of open access journals include library philosophy and practices, while a directory of open access journals has been developed by Lund University Library after the First Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication in Lund / Copenhagen in 2002.

Open Access Journals

Open access journals are scholarly journals that are available online to the readers without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. Some are subsidized, and some require payment on behave of the author. Subsidized journals are financed by an academic institution or a government information center; those requiring payment are typically financed by money made available to researchers for the purpose from a public or private funding agency, as part of a research grant. There have also been several modifications of open access journals that have considerably difficult nature; they are the hybrid open access journals and delayed open access journals (suber, 2009).

Open access journal also referred to as "Gold Road" to open access, are peer reviewed journals made available free of charge to the public through the internet. Unlike the business publishing model, in open access publishing the end users is not charge to access journal articles. Instead, various funding strategies such as direct author fees, institutional membership to sponsor all or part of author fees, funding agent payment author fees, grants to open access publishers and institutional subsidies are used to cover the cost for publication and distribution of OA content for free access by the end users (Hirwade and Rajyalakshmi, 2006)

Some of the open access journals avenues for direct access include: the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ); the directory of Free Full Text; Free Medical Journals Directory; the High Wire Press; and the Open J-Gate. It is also possible to access open access journals articles indirectly by using search engines such as Google or Google scholar.

The numbers of open access journals is rapidly growing. The Directory of open access journals (DOAJ) currently lists 3,683 journals up from 2,961 it listed in 2006 as reported by Bjork. (2004). DOAJ was established as a comprehensive directory of quality controlled OA journals by the Lund University library after the First Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication in Lund / Copenhagen in 2002.

Advantages of Open Access

The use of open access journals as an information seeking channel has many benefits. Dalgeish and Hall (2000) provided two attributes of open access journal as compared to textbooks. Firstly, OAJ have the ability to provide up-to-the-minute information and secondly, this information can be obtained from around the world. Okerson (1999) pointed that there were weaknesses to the print system of publication. Print journals are slow to appear most times and come to libraries through a distribution system full of pitfalls, which include those contributed by the world's postal systems. Access to individual copy of the print journal is limited to one person at a time and further reproduction is legally questionable or expensive if done with the publisher's permission is usually labour-intensive. Searching print text with reliability is difficult, though browsing or reading print text is relatively easy. Access to collections is limited by location and availability, and that access can be slow and inconvenient

The primary advantage of open access journals is that the entire content is available to users everywhere regardless of affiliation with a subscribing library. The main motivation for most authors to publish in an open access journal is increased visibility and ultimately a citation advantage (suber, 2009). Research citations of articles in a hybrid open access journal has shown that open access articles are cited more frequently or earlier than non open access articles. In 2001, it was first reported that freely available online science proceeding garnered more than three times the average numbers of citation received by print articles (Antelman, 2004). The primary explanation offered for the advantage of citation of open access articles is that freely available articles are cited more because they are read more than their subscription counterparts (Eysenbach, 2006).

Open Access is the alternative to Closed Access (or Subscription Access or Toll Access). Traditionally, journals have been sold on subscription to libraries. In the age of print-on-paper, this was the only model available that enabled publishers to disseminate journals and recoup the cost. Unfortunately, this meant that only researchers in institutions that could afford to pay the subscription charges were able to read journal articles. Even wealthy universities could only afford a proportion of the world's research literature. For institutions in poorer countries this proportion is tiny or even non-existent. At the beginning of this millennium, more than half the research-based institutions in the poorest countries had no current journal subscriptions and over 20% had an average of two subscriptions (Chan, 2009). Now, in the age of the World Wide Web, it is possible for research findings to be disseminated free of charge to anyone who wishes to read them. Those with access to the journals in their libraries will access the articles, though some people say that it is actually quicker and easier to access Open Access copies through a search engine (one or two clicks) than to access the published article in a journal through their library website (which normally takes several steps). Those who do not have the journals they want in their library can use Google or other Web search engines to track down the Open Access literature in institutional and subject repositories. Eysenbach. (2006).

Several studies have been carried out on OAJ which highlight the benefits as:

  • Free access to information
  • Increased research impart(measured by citations/downloads) of open access articles versus non-open articles (Antelman,2004)
  • Possible solution to the so-called "serial crisis" or "journal affordability problem"

Okoye and Ejikeme (2010) identified the benefits of using open access journals to include the followings

It provides increased citation to published scholarly work.

  • Publications are made free for authors
  • It increases the impact of researchers work
  • Articles can be accessed online free of charge.
  • It provides free online access to the literature necessary for ones research
  • It helps in career development It provides high quality scholarly work

Open access is the subject of much discussion amongst academics, librarians, university administrators, government official, commercial publishers, and learned society publishers. There is substantial disagreement about the concept of open access, along with much debate and discussion about the economics of funding an open access scholarly communications system. Suber (2009).

Researcher's Use of Open Access

Many studies have been carried out on the use of open access journals. Bartle and Walton, (1996) argue that most researchers are still reluctant to the use of Open Access Journals; one of the major reasons for this is that they are not aware of what is available to them and what the services is capable of doing. They further stated that students are less likely to use open access journal unless they are encouraged to do so by their lecturers, so it is critical that students are made to be aware of the services which are available; students need to be shown the relevance of open access journals to the subject being researched or taught.

Open access journals have become an important source for scientific research and development. Eqbal and khan (2007) found that 88.24% faculty of science are more aware about open access journals. The majority of research scholars in faculty of science 67.64% and 69.23% faulty of Engineering use OAJs for research work, whereas 35.29% in faculty of science use OAJs to update their knowledge and 23.70% in faculty of engineering use them for study. Burton and Chadwick (2000) found that researchers are mostly concerned with access, giving the most positive ratings to sources that were easy to find and understand.

In a similar fashion, Mallik, Saxena and Roy (2007) in their study of the usage of online resources found that the respondents or use groups are differ in their usage methods of access and in their frequency of use of online resources and that lack of use or awareness of the library home page could have prevented some users from using the resources. Liew, Foo and Channupatic (2000) found that many researchers are aware of OAJ and they give preference for and use it against printed articles which confines the idea that patrons may limit their research to easily available electronic journals simply because of their convenience and regardless of whether other sources would better suit their information needs. Heavy usage of a handful of the most popular titles and extremely low use of the least popular titles of OAJs suggests that library users are exhibiting the same sort of journal preferences in the electronic domain as they have been in print. This study reinforces the need for more and better usage data for E-journals so that the budget, both for print and electronic resources can be allocated in a manner that will achieve the highest ratio of usage to expenditure.

Academics in developing countries are fast adapting to the Internet as a source of information for teaching and research. (Ojedokun and Owolabi, 2003; Badu and Markwei 2005). Many studies have also been conducted to determine the use of Open Access Journals and other e-resources. Manda (2005) studied the use of electronic resources in Tanzania by academics. He found out that the use was low, due to inadequate end-user training, slow connectivity, and limited access to PCs, poor search skills, and budget cuts. Smith (2007) looked at South Africa, finding that insufficient bandwidth was a major problem, and the range of open access journals in the respondents' field of interest was fairly limited.
Ehikhamenor (2003) states even though 77.5 percent of Nigerian scientists rated Open Access journals as "important" or "very important," their rating was based on expectation rather than actual use. Gbaje (2007), writing on Nigerian academic libraries, found that only 20 percent of those surveyed provide access to open access resources.

Purpose of the Study

  • To determine the level of usage of open access journals by lecturers
  • To identify the benefits derived from the use of open access journals by lecturers
  • To know the lecturers assessments of open access journals publications.

Research Questions

  • What is the level of usage of open access journals by lecturers?
  • What are the benefits derived from using open access journals by lecturers?
  • What are the lecturer's assessments of open access journal publication?


The study employs a descriptive survey design utilizing the questionnaire to collect data. The population consisted of (50) fifty lecturers of the Western Delta University, Oghara, Delta State, Nigeria.

Copies of the questionnaire were administered to (50) fifty lecturers and all the copies of the questionnaires were retrieved. The data were analyzed using frequency counts and simple percentage to answers the research questions.


The findings of this study are presented in the following 6 charts

Chart 1: Response rate


Chart 1 show that the response rate is 50 (100%). This is considered adequate for the study.

Chart 2: Distribution of lecturers According to Gender


Chart 2 shows that 44(88%) of the respondent were male, 6(12%) were females.

Chart 3: Distribution of lecturers by rank


Chart 3 shows that majority of the respondents fall within the category of lecturer 11 (13) 26%

Chart 4: Level of usage of open access journals by lecturer


Chart 4 above, 50 (100%) of the respondents agreed that they have downloaded articles, print open access journals, accessed open access journals, made links to other articles through open access journals, published their work in open access journals, references open access journals, and they cited articles from open access journals articles.

Chart 5: Benefits of using open access journal


Chart 5 shows that the major benefit derived from using open access journals is that publications are made free for authors 50(100%), this is followed by reduction in publication delay 46 (92%) and that it increases citation to published scholarly work 45 (90%)

Chart 6: Lecturers assessment of open access journal publications


Chart 6 shows that majority of the respondents 50 (100%) agreed that open access publications are original and represents high quality research and that publications represent adequate standards of quality and scientific merit.

Discussion of Findings

The respondents indicated overwhelmingly that they have downloaded, printed accessed, made links to other articles, published, referenced, and have cited articles from open access journals articles. This finding is in conformity to those of Burton and Chadwick (2000) who found that researchers are mostly concerned with access giving the most positive ratings to sources that were easy to find and understand.

It was also found that the major benefits derived from using open access journals are that publications are made free for authors. This finding is a confirmation of Okoye and Ejikeme (2010) who indicated that publications are made free for author, and that it gives free access to literatures.

Meanwhile, the result of the study also showed that majority of the respondents mentioned that open access publications are original and represents high quality research and publications represent adequate standards of quality and scientific merit. This finding is a further confirmation of Okoye and Ejikeme (2010) who stated that open access journal provides high quality scholarly research work.


The paper concludes by advocating that more awareness programmes be put in place to sensitize lecturers on the various benefits derived from the use open access journals.


Researchers who use open access journals should make effort to sensitize others about it as a way of contributing to the open access movement.

Open access journals cannot be used without adequate ICT infrastructure, Universities managements in this respect should endeavor to make ICT facilities available in order to encourage quality research work.


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