UMass’ World Librarians provide open access education for students in Malawi and Kenya

Members of the University of Massachusetts World Librarians team are working to promote open access information and get their RSO up and running this semester. Professor of environmental conservation Charles Schweik and students involved with the World Librarian team discussed sharing education information with schools in Malawi and Kenya.

Seven years ago, Schweik attended a talk on campus given by Peter Suber, a philosopher and director of the Harvard Open Access Project.

Suber’s talk was on the concept of “open access,” or transmitting information via satellite to other parts of the world. Schweik went up to Suber and asked if he knew who was deciding what information was going into the signal. Suber said that it was the “Outernet people,” a group based in the United States.

NACOSTI: An Open Science Pioneer in Kenya – ORCID

“As open research in Kenya grows in popularity—especially in the areas of higher education and academia—ORCID adoption has increased as well. ORCID Membership in Kenya represents a diverse group of constituents, including PAMJ in publishing, Strathmore University in higher education, The African Academy of Sciences in funding, and the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) as a key supporter of open research.

In order to ensure quality in the science, technology, and innovation sector, every researcher must obtain a government license to conduct research in Kenya. To support this requirement, NACOSTI provides research licensing, registration of research institutions in Kenya, and accreditation of research institutions….”

Virtual Lecture Series: Angela Okune (University of California) – Postcolonial Objectivity: Reaching for Decolonial Knowledge Making in Nairobi. January 20th, 2022, 09.30 am (PST) | Association for Cultural Studies

Angela Okune (University of California) – Postcolonial Objectivity: Reaching for Decolonial Knowledge Making in Nairobi
January 20th, 2022
9:30 AM PST/ Pacific Standard Time (GMT -8)

Abstract: Based on work over the last decade within Nairobi’s tech-for-good sector, followed by a year of ethnographic research within organizations in Kenya’s research landscapes, I trace shifting contours and edges of what is considered to be good knowledge in scientific representation in Kenya. I scale between analyses of the political economy and geopolitics of translocal knowledge production to ethnographically rich descriptions of Kenyan histories of imperialism, publishing, and post-war Development. The asymmetrical knowledge infrastructures established have created conditions where everyday research amongst particular communities in Nairobi is often experienced as extractive, externally-driven, and extroverted for a Western audience. Some social scientists in Kenya are responding by pursuing knowledge that gains its validity through recognition of and grounding in its location. I call this emergent regime of scientific representation in Kenya “postcolonial objectivity” and suggest that a recurrent argument and goal of postcolonial objectivity is robust contextualization of knowledge. I close by discussing my own attempts towards postcolonial objectivity, working to build supporting technical infrastructure as an experimental space for collaborative effort to figure out what kinds of questions can be asked under postcolonial objectivity going forward.

Bio: Angela Okune studies data practices and infrastructures of research groups working in and on Nairobi, Kenya in order to explore broader questions of equity, knowledge production and socio-economic development in Africa. Angela received her doctorate in Anthropology from the University of California, Irvine and has been awarded research fellowships by the National Science Foundation, The Wenner-Gren Foundation, and University of California Berkeley Center for Technology, Society and Policy. From 2010 – 2015, as co-founder of the research department at iHub, Nairobi’s innovation hub for the tech community, Angela provided strategic guidance for the growth of tech research in Kenya. She was a Network Coordinator for the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network (2014 – 2018) and co-editor for open-access book Contextualizing Openness (University of Ottawa Press). She currently works as a Senior Program Manager at Code for Science and Society. Angela also serves on the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Council and as a Design Team member of the Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography (PECE). Angela is an Associate Editor on a collective editorial team for the Open Access journal, Engaging Science, Technology, and Society and is a founding member of the experimental, open ethnographic data portal called Research Data Share (

Empowering Researchers with Skills and Tools in Open Science and Bioinformatics. | by Meg Wanjiku | OpenScienceKE Publishing | Oct, 2021 | Medium

“We had been keeping our eyes peeled for grant opportunities. Starting BHKi was undoubtedly a great idea; however, the harsh reality was the lack of strong financial backing required to fulfill our goals. OpenScienceKE has been around longer than we have, and we consider it our mentor. It was founded to fill the training gap in our universities and promote open science among Biomedical students and researchers in Nairobi using the model: sensitize, train, hack and collaborate. We had partnered with them before to host training seminars and meetups because our goals mesh together. We teamed up with them to apply for the Code for Science and Society grant. Teamwork makes the dream work! Responsibilities were shared, and sleeves rolled up, and each one of us put our best foot forward. The result was a killer application. We said silent prayers and hit send just moments before the deadline elapsed. Then we waited with bated breath. And waited. And waited some more. As it turns out, the reviewers were impressed because one evening, the good news was announced! We had received the grant!…

The funds will be channeled towards a 6-month training project dubbed “Empowering researchers with skills and tools in Open Science and Bioinformatics”. They will enable the acquisition of resources required for the successful running of the project and offer appreciation to the trainers. There will be a series of events, including open science symposium, bioinformatics workshops (introduction to bioinformatics, advanced shell scripting, data manipulation, wrangling and visualization in R, data analysis in python, and advanced bioinformatics), instructors training, hackathons for collaborative mini-projects, and a conference. Trainers will be selected based on their area of expertise and a willingness to pass on the skills to aspiring bioinformaticians….”

OA policy forum at Laikipia University, Kenya | EIFL

“EIFL’s partner consortium, the Kenya Libraries and Information Services Consortium (KLISC), is organizing an Open Access Policy Formulation, Adoption and Implementation Forum at Laikipia University in Kenya. 

The Forum will be facilitated by Dr George Gitau, Chief University Librarian at Kenyatta University and EIFL Open Access Coordinator in Kenya, his colleague, Miriam Ndungu, Iryna Kuchma, EIFL Open Access Programme Manager, and Dr Penninah Musangi, University Librarian at Amref International University. 

The Forum will comprise two parts. First, there will be presentations and discussion of emerging trends in the open access movement, open access repositories, open access journal publishing and open access policy development. The facilitators will highlight how open access contributes to institutional and researcher visibility, and discuss ORCID and Google Scholar indexing, copyright, licensing and plagiarism.

Presentations and discussion will be followed by hands-on sessions in which participants will fine tune the Laikipia University’s institutional repository to enhance visibility of locally produced research, and craft an institutional open access policy for the university….”

OA Policy Formulation, Adoption and Implementation Forum | EIFL

“EIFL Open Access Coordinator in Kenya, Dr George Gitau, Chief University Librarian at Kenyatta University, Iryna Kuchma, EIFL Open Access Programme Manager, and Rosemary Otando, Deputy University Librarian at the University of Nairobi, will facilitate the Open Access Policy Formulation, Adoption and Implementation Forum at Amref International University. 

The Forum will comprise two parts. First, there will be presentations and discussion of emerging trends in the open access movement, open access repositories, open access journal publishing and open access policy development. The facilitators will highlight how open access contributes to institutional and researcher visibility, and the importance of ORCID and Google Scholar indexing, copyright, licensing and plagiarism issues….”

Open Science in Kenya: Where Are We? | Research Metrics and Analytics

“According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Open Science is the movement to make scientific research and data accessible to all. It has great potential for advancing science. At its core, it includes (but is not limited to) open access, open data, and open research. Some of the associated advantages are promoting collaboration, sharing and reproducibility in research, and preventing the reinvention of the wheel, thus saving resources. As research becomes more globalized and its output grows exponentially, especially in data, the need for open scientific research practices is more evident — the future of modern science. This has resulted in a concerted global interest in open science uptake. Even so, barriers still exist. The formal training curriculum in most, if not all, universities in Kenya does not equip students with the knowledge and tools to subsequently practice open science in their research. Therefore, to work openly and collaboratively, there is a need for awareness and training in the use of open science tools. These have been neglected, especially in most developing countries, and remain barriers to the cause. Moreover, there is scanty research on the state of affairs regarding the practice and/or adoption of open science. Thus, we developed, through the OpenScienceKE framework, a model to narrow the gap. A sensitize-train-hack-collaborate model was applied in Nairobi, the economic and administrative capital of Kenya. Using the model, we sensitized through seminars, trained on the use of tools through workshops, applied the skills learned in training through hackathons to collaboratively answer the question on the state of open science in Kenya. While the former parts of the model had 20–50 participants, the latter part mainly involved participants with a bioinformatics background, leveraging their advanced computational skills. This model resulted in an open resource that researchers can use to publish as open access cost-effectively. Moreover, we observed a growing interest in open science practices in Kenya through literature search and data mining and that lack of awareness and skills may still hinder the adoption and practice of open science. Furthermore, at the time of the analyses, we surprisingly found that out of the 20,069 papers downloaded from BioRXiv, only 18 had Kenyan authors, a majority of which are international (16) collaborations. This may suggest poor uptake of the use of preprints among Kenyan researchers. The findings in this study highlight the state of open science in Kenya and challenges facing its adoption and practice while bringing forth possible areas for primary consideration in the campaign toward open science. It also proposes a model (sensitize-train-hack-collaborate model) that may be adopted by researchers, funders and other proponents of open science to address some of the challenges faced in promoting its adoption in Kenya….”


An analysis of the factors affecting open access to research output in institutional repositories in selected universities in East Africa | JLSC

Kakai, M., 2021. An analysis of the factors affecting open access to research output in institutional repositories in selected universities in East Africa. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 9(1), p.eP2276. DOI:

Abstract: Institutional repositories (IRs) present universities with an opportunity to provide global open access (OA) to their scholarship, however, this avenue was underutilised in two of the three universities in this study. This study aimed at proposing interventions to improve access to research output in IRs in universities in East Africa, and it adds to the depth of knowledge on IRs by pointing out the factors that limit OA in IRs, some of which include lack of government and funder support for OA and mediated content collection workflows that hardly involved seeking author permission to self-archive. METHODS A mixed methods approach, following a concurrent strategy was used to investigate the low level of OA in IRs. Data was collected from three purposively selected IRs in universities in East Africa, using self-administered questionnaires from 183 researchers and face-to-face interviews from six librarians. results The findings revealed that content was collected on a voluntary basis, with most of the research output deposited in the IR without the authors’ knowledge. The respondents in this study were, however, supportive of the activities of the IR, and would participate in providing research output in the IR as OA if required to do so. CONCLUSION The low level of OA in IRs in universities in East Africa could be increased by improving the IR workflow, collection development, and marketing processes. Self-archiving could be improved by increasing the researchers’ awareness and knowledge of OA and importance of IRs, while addressing their concerns about copyright infringement.

The rise of citizen science: can the public help solve our biggest problems? | Universities | The Guardian

“For instance, in Kenya, University College London (UCL) scientists and their local partners are working with the Maasai to protect their environment against the climate crisis.

The researchers are co-developing a smartphone app that will help the community map the location of vital medicinal plant species and, as a result, better manage them. The app will allow the Maasai to upload the location of the plants, analyse the results and display them using icons like a thumbs up, an ant, and a red no entry sign next to invasive species, as well as pictures of the plants they want to protect….

Despite its obvious merits, citizen science still faces challenges. Researchers have a reputation for arriving in a community, exploiting it for data, and leaving it without giving any credit for its contribution….

In the end, citizen science is about shifting power from scientists to the public. A new £1.3m project called Engaging Environments led by the University of Reading, which is running in its own city as well as Birmingham and Newcastle, aims to do just that by training researchers to work with a wide range of communities to address their concerns about issues like pollution, climate change and air quality. This might be through getting sixth formers to monitor wildlife, or mosques encouraging their congregation to develop environmentally friendly practices such as avoiding single-use plastics during festivals.

This project is needed because of the social divide that exists between the public and many scientists. …

It doesn’t benefit scientists to isolate themselves from the public, either….”

IDEAL, the Infectious Diseases of East African Livestock Project Open Access Database and Biobank – PubMed

Abstract:  The Infectious Diseases of East African Livestock (IDEAL) project was a longitudinal cohort study of calf health which was conducted in Western Kenya between 2007-2010. A total of 548 East African shorthorn zebu calves were recruited at birth and followed at least every 5 weeks during the first year of life. Comprehensive clinical and epidemiological data, blood and tissue samples were collected at every visit. These samples were screened for over 100 different pathogens or infectious exposures, using a range of diagnostic methods. This manuscript describes this comprehensive dataset and bio-repository, and how to access it through a single online site ( ). This provides extensive filtering and searching capabilities. These data are useful to illustrate outcomes of multiple infections on health, investigate patterns of morbidity and mortality due to parasite infections, and to study genotypic determinants of immunity and disease.

Open access workshops at University of Eldoret | EIFL

“EIFL’s partner library consortium, Kenya Libraries and Information Services Consortium (KLISC), will host workshops on open access (OA) and institutional repositories for senior management, research managers and administrators, academics and researchers, librarians, and ICT staff at the University of Eldoret. The workshops are supported by EIFL. 

The aim of the workshops, which take place over two days, is to raise awareness about the benefits of OA, institutional OA repositories and OA publishing. The workshops will also address OA policy formulation; share information about OA advocacy initiatives, and discuss upgrading and customization of the University of Eldoret’s Dspace-based repository to enhance visibility of local research….”

Kenya seeks to set up open data in agriculture, nutrition – Xinhua |

Kenyan researchers have formed a team to spearhead establishment of open data to generate information and services for smallholder farmers in agriculture and nutrition.

“Open data will provide advice and warning to farmers to enable them take precautions and avoid making unnecessary losses,” said Joseph Mureithi, deputy director general in charge of livestock at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), during the launch of the team in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Mureithi noted that making data more open, easily available and accessible accelerates innovation and generates economic and social benefits….”

Knowledge without boundaries: Advocacy campaign in Kenya for open access and institutional repositories | EIFL


  • The University of Nairobi OA Policy was approved in December 2012 by the Senate members, who supported it overwhelmingly, and signed by the Vice Chancellor. The OA IR is now online. The policy became the third OA policy in the country following two other OA mandates adopted by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology’s (JKUAT) Senate in April 2012 and Strathmore University in 2011.

  • Collaboration on OA advocacy between the Medical Students Association of Kenya (MSAKE), the University of Nairobi Library and the office of DVC Research, Production and Extension of the University of Nairobi has been strengthened. This has proved to be a good strategy to reach students and to work with them to ensure success of OA initiatives.

  • Ten repositories have been set up at ten institutions that participated in DSpace installation trainings, half of them are already on the web with the others are on local Intranets (pending  OA and IR policies approval by the relevant bodies).

  • Ten new OA and IR policies have been drafted, five of them have already been approved and five others are still pending approval by the Universities Management Boards and Senates.

  • Over 30 research institutions in Kenya are now aware of the importance of OA initiatives including the national policy makers. Government officials in ministries, top level managers in Higher Learning Institutions, researchers and students, ICT managers and the press are better informed about OA initiatives and many participants were ready to support their respective institutions in OA developments.

  • 300 researchers, students, research administrators and managers, publishers and policy makers were trained, which resulted in increased awareness of OA.

  • Great impact on OA Initiatives in KLISC Member Institutions and in Kenya as a whole. Was able to sensitize different stakeholders on OA initiatives….”

How EIFL’s support helped open up East African research to the world | EIFL

“When EIFL organized the first-ever workshop on open access in Kenya in 2010, there were just seven institutional open access repositories in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Awareness about OA was limited, and very few universities had open access policies.

Seven years later, in 2017, over 50 new repositories had been set up and 33 institutions had adopted open access policies. There were almost 200,000 documents available in the repositories, and download numbers had run into the millions.

This two-page case study tells how EIFL, in collaboration with our partner library consortia, the Kenya Libraries and Information Services Consortium (KLISC), the Consortium of Tanzania Universities and Research Libraries (COTUL) and the Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL), helped open up East African research to the world….”