Faculty management practices of digital grey literature in an open access context
Gibendi, Ruth Nyagano
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Digital grey literature is an important output that deserves management by libraries. The tools for achieving this frequently relinquish this task to the creators of the works with general poor results. The aim of this study was to examine organization and dissemination practices accorded to digital grey literature by faculty, and their underlying motivations with a view of providing a framework for improving its management by the library. The objectives of the study were to identify digital grey literature produced, assess the management practices accorded to it, understand motivations of the choice of dissemination practices and therefore suggest a framework for improving grey literature management for the library. The study adopted Actor Network Theory (ANT), Social Network Theory (SET) and Social Capital (SC) as viewing lens. The study employs an interpretive case, with Strathmore University as the unit of study. Stratified followed by random sampling was conducted for the full time faculty spread across four disciplinary areas. Data was collected using in-depth semi-structured interviews. A total of 21faculty were interviewed. Recorded interviews were transcribed, coded and analyzed thematically based on factors derived from the theories used. The results indicate that faculty produce and share a variety of digital grey literature outputs, which are elusive to define, even to themselves. They use existing technology such as email, e-learning and online cloud storage services to organize their works for future retrieval. Faculty share the digital grey literature they produce with the official disseminating agencies of the works based on mandates and expectations, with colleagues based on trust relations and need and with students for teaching functions. Faculty are not aware of subject repositories in their disciplines, though they have used them online to retrieve works. Faculty interviewed had only done mediated deposits to the institutional repository. They perceive additional time and effort, skills, copyright concerns and quality concerns to be key deterrents to sharing their works online. They envisage professional recognition, publicity and citations as a benefit of sharing their digital grey literature, but acknowledge that this can only be derived from subject repositories and not institutional repositories. Predatory publishers are identified as an emerging cost in digital grey literature sharing in institutional repositories. An atmosphere of trust and open communication channels is perceived to positively influence a sharing culture. Faculty perceive the librarians as competent and can be entrusted with their digital grey literature works. The study concludes that for proper digital grey literature management to be achieved, librarians must be ready to mitigate the costs and offer the benefits envisaged by faculty: professional recognition, publicity and citations. The study recommends that librarians adopt a holistic approach to grey literature management and not limit themselves to institutional repositories. They will need to extend the mediated deposits to subject repositories and metric based systems such as Google Scholar so as to give faculty the benefits they desire from sharing digital grey literature to a global audience, and minimize identified and emerging costs.