New in ilissAfrica: AJOL, African institutional repositories and French databases via Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE)

ilissAfrica strengthened its service of full text e-documents through the integration of Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE). Via this powerful OAI-PMH service provider some of the most important African and French repositories and article databases are now part of the combined search in ilissAfrica.

Highlights of the Africa section of BASE:

  1. African Journals Online (AJOL) to promote access to African research. It is the largest and pre-eminent collection of peer-reviewed, African-published scholarly journals, some Open Access.
  2. 30 institutional repositories from African universities, like WIReDSpace, UWC Research Repository, UNISA Institutional Repository, UPSpace, UJ DigiSpace, SUNScholar Research Repository, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar: Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire Culturels Africains (Senegal), Covenant University Repository (Ota, Nigeria) or Addis Ababa University Electronic Thesis and Dissertations
  3. Major French resources like
    • Gallica – bibliothèque numérique de la Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) – with access e.g. to the accounts, photographs, maps etc. of explorers of Africa
    • Cairn – more than 150 journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences, e.g. Afrique contemporaine, Cahiers d’études africaines, Outre-Terre
    • Revues.org – Revues.org is the oldest collection of France’s open access online journals for social sciences (over 60).
    • Persée: Portail de revues scientifiques en sciences humaines et sociales. Free access to bibliographical data and to some extent to full text articles from scientific journals in the social and human sciences in France
    • HAL – Hyper Article en Ligne and Ressources documentaires. multi-disciplinary open access archive for the deposit and dissemination of scientific research papers, whether they are published or not, and for PhD dissertation
    • Inst. de recherche pour le développement (IRD). – Publications of the scientists of the IRD (former Orstom).
  4. More institutional repositories and digitization databases of LSE, SOAS, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Michigan, Indiana, Harvard and Brigham Young universities
  5. Finally the RePEc:Research Papers in Economics and the Directory of Open Access Journals:Articles bring in many more results from very diverse journals also on Africa

Why BASE?

Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) is one of the world’s most voluminous search engines especially for academic open access web resources. BASE is operated by Bielefeld University Library. As the open access movement grows and prospers, more and more repository servers come into being which use the “Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting” (OAI-PMH) for providing their contents. BASE collects, normalizes, and indexes these data. One can access the full texts of about 75% of the indexed documents. The Index is continuously enhanced by integrating further OAI sources as well as local sources. BASE is a registered OAI service provider and contributed to the European project “Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research” (DRIVER).

Some remarks on selection and usage:

  • The selection was done by choosing specific data provider. There is no further sub-selection like a subject specification on African Studies. So on the one hand one might find results on the natural sciences which you would not expect in ilissAfrica. On the other hand you will find many documents on Africa e.g. in journals which would not be indexed in libraries specializing on African Studies normally.
  • While many repositories deliver keywords and abstracts, only some do support the keyword search.
  • The advanced search for the date range does not work with BASE
  • OR and NOT in the advanced search do work with BASE.
  • Some provider like Persee and Revues.org do not deliver the source information (name of the journal, volume etc.).

Search examples

  • Dogon
  • Khoisan
  • Youth in Sierra Leone – only full text, all document types
  • Mission Congo – AJOl articles, UNISA thesis, Persee, CAIRN articles, HAL documents, digital missionary accounts, pictures and maps e.g. via Gallica
  • Material on the “Kingdom of Kongo” – if one includes the French search term (royaume congo) the results of a title search  lead to journal articles and books in the different library catalogues and databases and via BASE there are found an ORSTOM (IRD) paper, some articles in Persee and some maps digitized by the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. See further Gallica-Maps of the Kingdom of Kongo.
  • dakar photo*
  • South African postcards, e.g. historic postcards digitized by the University of Pretoria
  • online chapters of one book available in the libraries
  • Bambara (not groundnut)

Conclusion

The integration of BASE into ilissAfrica’s cross search is a big step forward: one search index provides access to a multitude of institutional repositories and Open Access databases. BASE is a brilliant example of the potential of the linked web via standardized interfaces. And it helps to increase the visibility of academic knowledge produced and stored in the South.

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List of the OAI-repositories included:

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DSpace Open Access repository development in Africa / Open Access Week 2011

During the Open Access Week, Oct. 24-30, 2011, a five-part series that looked at Open Access repository development in twelve African countries:

The series is co-authored by Iryna Kuchma, Open Access Programme manager, EIFL and EIFL-OA country coordinators. In 2004 there were 9 DSpace instances in Africa,  in 2011 already 46.

Some results in short:

See also Kenya Open Data (http://opendata.go.ke/) for greater government transparency, however, still not open access in Kenya:

Institutions that have implemented IRs but are still on Local Area Network are as follows: University of Nairobi (108 items); Kenyatta University (Past Papers); College of Insurance, KMFRI (Advanced stage – 400 items), Kabarak (Advanced stage – 3000 items), Agha Khan University (80 Items), Marist International (55 items), Moi University (Advanced stage), KCA (103 items), ICIPE (21 Items), Inoorero, KEMRI and KEMU.

Thanks to all authors and to EIFL for their updates!