Open Access Repositories in Asia: from SAARC to Asian Tigers.

Author:Roy, Bijan Kumar


Open Access Repository (OAR) has become a hot topic in academic libraries in the past few years. All the continents are now maintaining OARs, but major share holders are in Europe and North America. Asia emerges as the third largest contributor. Few years ago, Institutional repository initiatives were initiated only in some developed countries. But now it has become an area of research in developing countries. Many developing countries have set up institutional repository through open source software like DSpace, EPrints etc.

Several studies have been conducted on the topic institutional repositories in order to provide current situation and state of the institutional repositories of that particular country. Many researcher and open access advocates have highlighted the development of institutional repositories initiatives under taken by different countries such as the USA (Lynch & Lippincott, 2005; Markey et al., 2007; van Westrienen & Lynch 2005; Rieh et al., 2007); UK (Pinfield, 2003; Markland, 2006); Canada (Shearer, 2006); Australia (Kennan & Kingsley, 2009); Greece (Chantavaridou, 2009); India (Ghosh & Das, 2007; Swan, 2008; Alexander & Gautam, 2006; Venkadesan, 2009; Nazima & Devib, 2008); Japan (Mukarami & Adachi, 2006); China (Zhong, 2009); Taiwan (Chen & Hsiang, 2008); Hongkong (Chan, 2009); Turkey (Tonta, 2008); and South African (Deventer & Pienaar, 2008).

In Europe, Institutional repository movement was started in 2001 and is gaining momentum and new initiatives are emerging around the country. The study (Van Westrienen & Lynch, 2005) reported the development of institutional repositories in ten European countries. Another study (Melero, et al, 2009) reported the current state of Spanish open-access institutional repositories and described their characteristics. The other researcher (Bravo & Diez, 2007) described role of science repositories in the development of e-Science in the same country. Another study (Henty, 2007) reported development of institutional repositories mainly in Australian universities.

Though Asia started relatively late but the situation is quite satisfactory. Many Asian countries are now in a good position in terms of number of repository developed in the country. Wani, Gul and Rah (2009) conducted a study on the growth and development of institutional repositories in Asia using the data from the OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repository) database. Another study (Kiran & Chia, 2009) reported that the adoption of institutional repositories in Malaysia. Another study (Matsuura, 2008) reported that Japan has been placed as the fourth biggest contributor by counts of institutional repositories in OpenDOAR and ROAR (Registry of Open Access Repository). Another study (Lee, 2008) showed the growth and development of institutional repository systems in Japan and Korean universities.

On the other hand, Fernandez (2006) pointed out that the lack of infrastructure is a major barrier to the growth of institutional repositories India. Another study (Prabhat & Gautam 2010) placed India as the second in the Asian region as a contributor to the world institutional repositories.


The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an organization of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasizing collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined the organization in 2005.

The knowledge management movement of the 1990's influenced the development of institutional digital repositories in a number of significant ways. Today there are near about two thousands interoperable Open Access Repositories (OAR) in the world (ROAR (Registry of Open Access Repository), 2011; DOAR (Directory of Open access Repository), 2011). But the growth rate of OARs per year of SAARC countries except India is not satisfactory in compare to other Asian Countries. Though the number of repositories is growing fast worldwide mainly in developed countries.

OAR in SAARC Countries

Though people in SAARC countries are somewhat similar in social, economic and political condition but all the SAARC countries (except India) are not in a position to compare with other Asian counties in terms of number of repositories. Over the last five years there is a significant amount of open access (OA) advocacy and awareness by way of workshops, seminars, conferences, etc in the western world. It needs to be geared up in SAARC countries. SAARC Documentation Centre (SDC) hosted presently by NISCAIR, New Delhi is working in full swing to spread open access movement in SAARC countries. The following table shows the number of repositories in SAARC countries.

Highest value have been considered and overlapping is avoided

It is clear from the table (Table 1) that the SAARC countries possess only 78 repositories whereas out of these repositories, India possesses 70 (89.74%) repositories (Table 1). Member countries of SAARC (excluding India) report (in ROAR and DOAR) a total of only eight (8) repositories (10.26%). It is clear from the study that India is the key player in this repository movement within SAARC Countries. So, the picture is not quite satisfactory and surely there is a scope for raising awareness about OA publishing and OA repository in order to achieve success in this open knowledge movement. The open access movement in this part of Asia started in 2003 and is in steady progress as many new institutes are contributing regularly in open access scholarly resource organization processes. In some member countries of SAARC, OAR movement is still in early stages, though countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are now familiar with the term and are trying to develop policy and institutional frameworks to cope with the open access initiatives.

Table 1: Number of OARs in SAARC Countries Country Number...

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