The Scholarly Communication unit of the University of Zimbabwe Library strives to offer cutting edge scholarly communication services, tools, techniques, policies and practices. These support how research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated, disseminated, and preserved for future use. The Scholarly Communication unit helps scholars to navigate current and emerging scholarly publishing, landscapes in ways that uphold research dissemination, accessibility, and impact.1 This is achieved through broad programmes namely, copyright and open access, research impact tracking, research data management services and, publishing.
Scholarly communication refers to the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use2. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels. Learn more about scholarly communication here
- University of California Berkeley. 2020. Scholarly Communication. Available: https://www.lib.berkeley.edu/scholarly-communication
- Association of College and Research Libraries. 2020. Scholarly Communication Toolkit: Scholarly Communication Overview. Available: https://acrl.libguides.com/scholcomm/toolkit
The Library provides services to the University of Zimbabwe community on the use of copyrighted material and how to address copyright and fair use in teaching, research, innovation, and industrialisation. Additionally, support is provided on issues related to selecting the best license to enable or to protect the use of one’s works by others.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property that gives the owner of creative works the exclusive right to exploit their work (sell, distribute, make copies e.t.c) for a specific period of time or to give away these rights to others such as publishers or producers. Original works eligible for copyright under the Zimbabwe Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act [26:05] are:
- literary works;
- musical works;
- artistic works;
- audio-visual works;
- sound recordings;
- programme-carrying signals;
- published editions.
Staff and students produce literacy works and it is imperative that they understand the copyright law in order to protect their intellectual outputs. The Library works in collaboration with intellectual property law experts from the University in designing programmes and guides to capacitate researchers on copyright issues. Researchers need to understand the conditions of fair use when using copyrighted works in their research and teaching endeavours. Refer to the Copyright guidelines in eLearning or more information on how to protect copyright and how to use copyrighted material.
1,2. The Library offers advisory services to researchers on publishing as well as the use of open access resources. Visit the Directory of Open Access Journals to browse a list of open access journals. There are tools designed to assess the copyright and open access self-archiving policies of academic journals. One of the tools that researchers can use is Sherpa Romeo
- Suber, P. (n.d). What is open access?. Available https://www.openaccess.nl/en/what-is-open-access
Types of Open Access
Green open access-This is a model where scholarly publishers allow researchers to deposit or self-archive publications in institutional repositories such the University of Zimbabwe’s Institutional Repository, subject repositories such as the arXivpreprint archive in physics, mathematics, computer science, the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN) which provide free unlimited online access to self-archived versions of publications and theRePEc (Research Papers in Economics)
Gold open access-In this model, open access peer-reviewed journals are freely available on the Internet. Some publishers charge article processing charges or fees under this model.1
Diamond open access-Articles are immediately made available and neither the researcher nor the reader pays any fees to publish and access articles respectively.1
Hybrid open access– This involves a combination of subscription access and open access. Through this model, researchers may be asked to pay article processing charges or fees for open and immediate access. 1
- Suber, P. (n.d). What is open access?. Available: https://www.openaccess.nl/en/what-is-open-access
Copyright and open access resources:
- Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act
- Check publisher or journal policies on copyright and open access: https://v2.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/search.html
Academic publishing is an essential component in scholarly communication as it provides an opportunity for knowledge transfer and distribution of scholarship. Researchers need to ensure that their research is published by legitimate publishers as this has a huge effect on the reputation of the researcher as well as their affiliate institutions.
Tools to evaluate the credibility of publishers
There are different tools that can be used to help researchers identify legitimate journals for their research. Though there are a number of tools and resources that can be used to assess the quality of journals, this guide present two main tools which are the Think.Check.Submit and the Journal Evaluation Rubric.
Accredited journals are quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals, covering all subjects and many languages. It is recommended that researchers and academics publish in journals listed from one of the lists below in order to receive recognition for an article one has written.
Tools for selecting the ‘best fit’ journal for your paper
Open Journal Matcher https://ojm.ocert.at/
JSTOR Text Analyzer https://www.jstor.org/analyze/
IEEE Publication Recommender https://publication-recommender.ieee.org/home
Open Journal System
The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) is now hosting journals online through the Open Journal Systems (OJS). The OJS is an open source software application for managing and publishing scholarly journals online, with over 10,000 journals using it worldwide. The entire submission, peer review, editorial workflow and publishing of articles and issues for the UZ Law Journal are now done online here. Journals published through the OJS are indexed and discoverable through Google Scholar and this increases the visibility of the UZ scholars and scholarly output of UZ on regional and international academic and professional knowledge platforms while also positively improving the international ranking perception index of the institution. The UZ aims to have all University of Zimbabwe Publications journals published online by 2025.
Traditionally, the success of a researcher was benchmarked on the number of research papers published in a given period of time. While the total number of publications alone may be used to indicate the productivity of the researcher and their institution, it does not provide an indication of the quality and significance of a research publication, nor does it indicate the impact the research or the researcher has. Moreover, the status and eminence of a researcher heavily depend on the impact the individual has had within one’s research community or field of study. Thus, it is essential to use a diverse set of yardstick is to appraise the impact of the research using various metrics. The following tools can be used to track the impact of a researcher’s scholarly works.
Research impact tracking tools
There are various existing and emerging tools that can be used to track the scholarly impact of researchers by enabling them to create professional and scholarly online profiles in which they share and keep track of their professional and scholarly activities.
The metrics toolkit is a useful resource that can be used to understand research impact metrics. One of the free tools that researchers can use to track research impact is Google Scholar Citations. A step by step guide on creating a profile is available here
Strategies to improve research visibility and discoverability
Researchers can use a combination of the following strategies to improve the visibility and discoverability of their research.
Optimise your research impact
In a highly networked environment, researchers need to maintain an active and updated researcher profile as it is beneficial inter alia to:
Through this programme, the Library assists the University of Zimbabwe researchers with the planning, organisation, management,
curation and publishing of research data to enhance its preservation and perpetual access. The Library provides training and advisory services on best practices in the management of research data throughout the data lifecycle. The Library has developed a user guide on basic concepts of research data management. Download the guide here
Research data management lifecycle
The research data lifecycle model describes and identifies the steps to be taken at the different stages of the research cycle to ensure successful data management, curation and preservation. There are several stages in the research data lifecycle, e.g. data creation, data processing, data analysis, data preservation, data sharing, data access, data re-use. There are data management lifecycle models that can be adopted by researchers to provide an overview of research data management workflows, locate services and assign roles and responsibilities at each stage of the research data lifecycle. The Digital Curation Lifecycle Model is one of the popular research data management lifecycle models.
Research data management planning (DMP)
Describes data that will be generated or produced during a research project, how that data will be described, managed and stored, and protected during the course of a research project and after the completion of the project. There are manifold benefits that can be derived from data management planning. Firstly, a DMP provides a concise outline of the quantity and type of data expected to be generated from a research project which assists in storage capacity planning.Additionally, a DMP assists in identifying datasets with potential for long term preservation and re-use. To the researcher, a DMP assists to assess the suitability of proposed approaches in data collection, management, storage and preservation. Researchers can build their data management plans using a free tool accessible here
Data sharing resources
The following are some of the data sharing resources where researchers can share their datasets.
FAIR data sharing principles
Researchers can access COVID-19 Research data: https://covid19.figshare.com/
Free Online RDM Courses
To improve your knowledge on research data management, consider enrolling for free in any of the following courses:
- Delivering Research Data Management Services https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/delivering-research-data-management-services
- Research data management and sharing https://www.coursera.org/learn/data-management
- MANTRA https://mantra.edina.ac.uk/
The Library provides scholarly communication support through training, outreach services and user guides. There is a dedicated team available to offer help and support on scholarly communication issues. Send an email to email@example.com to book for training or for more information about scholarly communication.
There is a diverse set of training programmes, targeting researchers at all stages of their career covering varied topics on scholarly communication and publishing. Training is provided through the following strategies:
- Individualised support and personal consultations
- online instruction
- Presentations and workshops for small or large groups and classes
- Online guidance and resources
- Bespoke training sessions tailored to the needs of specific groups
A training calendar of generic training sessions of what is on offer is maintained.
2. Outreach and research
The outreach and advocacy activities seek to strengthen interactions between the Library and research communities where there is an exchange of expertise and advice. There are also deliberate efforts to interact with institutions outside the University of Zimbabwe for knowledge sharing and advocacy in advancing the scholarly communication and publishing agenda. There are various outreach activities that are used by the Library to interact and connect with researchers. These include online platforms such as webinars, emails and news bulletins and physically through group and one-on-one sessions. The Unit also conducts surveys to ascertain the scholarly communication and publishing requirements of staff and students at the University of Zimbabwe.