TITLE PAGE                                                                                i

APPROVAL PAGE                                                                                         ii

CERTIFICATION PAGE                                                                                  iii

DEDICATION PAGE                                                                                       iv

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                                                                                 v

TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                  vii

LIST OF THE TABLES                                                                                    x

LIST OF FIGURES                                                                                          xi

ABSTRACT                                                                                                 xii

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION                                                                               

Background of the Study                                                                                    1

Statement of the Problem                                                                                    13

Purpose of the Study                                                                                            14

Research Questions                                                                                        15

Hypotheses                                                                                                        16

Significance of the Study                                                                                        17

Scope of the Study                                                                                         19

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW                                                                 

Conceptual Framework

Concept of Open Access Resources                                                             21

Concept of Awareness                                                                             26

Concept of Utilization                                                                       31

Concept of Postgraduate Students                                             36

Concept of University Library                                                               40

Concept of Private University                                                                         44

Emergence of Open Access Resources                                                                 49

The Role of the Library/Librarian in Open Access to Knowledge               51

Challenges of Open Access to Knowledge                                                         54

Theoretical Framework

Ranganathan’s Laws of 1931                                                                 59

Wilson’s 1981 Model of Information Seeking Behavior                             64

Review of Eempirical Studies 67

Summary of Literature Review 79


Design of the Study                                                                                         82

Area of the Study                                                                                                 83

Population of the Study                                                                                       83

Sample and Sampling Technique                                                                       84

Instruments for Data Collection                                                                         85

Validation of the Instrument                                                                         87

Reliability of the Instrument                                                                              87

Method of Data Collection                                                                                     88

Method of Data Analysis                                                                                    88


Research Question 1                                                                                             90

Research Question 2                                                                                            93

Research Question 3                                                                                              95

Research Question 4                                                                                           96

Research Question 5                                                                                          98

Research Question 6                                                                                           100

Research Question 7                                                                                             102

Research Question 8                                                                                          104

Research Question 9                                                                                              106

Hypothesis 1                                                                                                      108

Hypothesis 2                                                                                                     109

Summary of Major Findings                                                                110


Discussion of the Results                                                                     113

Implications of the Study                                                                 125

Recommendations                                                                                           127

Limitations of the Study                                                                                       129

Suggestions for Further Research                                                  129

Conclusion                                                                                                  130

REFERENCES                                                                                                        132


I: List of Open Access Publishers                                                     141

 II: The Distribution of Postgraduate Students in Licensed Private Universities in Nigeria   173

III:The Distribution of the Population and Sample Size                     174

IV: Questionnaire                                                                           175

 V: Observation Checklist                                                              184

 VI: Validators’ Comments                                                               186

VII: Reliability Test                                      188


1:  Percentage Distribution of Respondents on Availability of Open Access Sources                                                                               90

2: Mean Rating of Medium Employed in Creating Awareness of Open

Access Resources                                                                                                      93

3: Mean Rating of Extent of Awareness of Open Access Resources in the Library                                                                                                                  95

4: Mean Rating of Extent of Utilization of Open Access Resources in the Library                                                                                                                  96

5: Mean Rating on the Influence of Awareness Creation on the Utilization of Open Access Resources                                                                      98

6: Mean Rating of the Challenges Associated with Awareness of Open Access Resources                                                                                          100

7: Mean Rating of the Challenges Associated with Utilization of Open Access Resources                                                                                          102

8: Mean Rating of the Strategies for Enhancing Awareness of Open Access Resources                                                                                           104

9: Mean Rating of the Strategies for Enhancing Utilization of Open Access Resources                                                                                          106

10: Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) on the Awareness of Open Access Resources in Libraries of Private Universities by Postgraduate Students 108

11:Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) on the Utilization of Open Access Resources in Libraries of Private Universities by Postgraduate Students  109


Schematic Diagram Showing Relationship between Variables of the Study                                        58

Wilson’s 1981 Modified Model of Information Seeking Behaviour  66


The purpose of this study was to determine the awareness and utilization of open access resources in libraries of private universities by postgraduate students in Nigeria. Nine research questions and two null hypotheses guided the study. A descriptive survey research design was used for the study. The population of the study (603) consisted of all postgraduate students in Nigerian private universities, irrespective of their courses of study. A total sample size of 120 respondents was selected using multi-stage sampling technique. The researcher developed a questionnaire titled “Awareness and Utilization of Open Access Resources Questionnaire” (AUOARQ) and an observation checklist, which were used to collect data for the study. These research instruments were trial-tested for reliability in a South-West Nigerian private university. The reliability of 0.97 was established using Cronbach Alpha procedure. A total of 120 copies of the questionnaire were distributed to respondents, out of which 113 copies were returned and found to be correctly filled. This gave a response rate of 94.2%.The questionnaire was administered and collected by the researcher and two research assistants who were librarians and who were adequately instructed to ensure effective administering and collection. The data collected were analyzed using Mean (X) and Standard Deviations to answer the research questions. Two null hypotheses guided the study and were tested at.05 level of significance. The major findings of the study were that the overall availability of open access sources in the libraries was poor. Also, the general awareness and utilization of open access resources amongst postgraduate students were also low. Some major challenges that led to the preceding were that libraries did not organize seminars and workshops to sensitize students on open access resources, little or no information materials on open access resources in the library, erratic power supply, slow Internet connectivity, lack of Internet searching skills, inability of library staff to assist users to access to open access resources easily online and most especially, lack of awareness of the existence of open access resources contributed to its poor utilization by users. However, there was no significant difference in the mean ratings of awareness and also in the mean ratings of utilization of open access resources in libraries of private universities by postgraduate students in Nigeria. Based on the findings, it was strongly recommended that the library should oftenorganize seminars and workshops on open access for both students and other library stakeholders, the library should acquire information materials that teach the basics of open access and how to utilize it maximally,provision of power inverters as backup for stable electricity andincreasing the Internet bandwidth in the library to avoid slow downloading or slow Internet connection when browsing the Internet. Also, library staff should be given in-house training and orientation on the general concept of open access and how to assist users access these resources easily online and making open access a compulsory course to be taught in class to create its awareness



Background to the Study

Accessing and dissemination of free scholarly publications should be a basic human right which should be advocated and explored because of its ability to close the gap between developed and developing countries.Free exchange and use of information especially research based information forms the basis for economic, cultural, social and scientific development, yet this has been compromised by restricted access model of publishers and the dependency of researchers on research works published in qualitative but restricted access journals (Canada, 2009). Canada further opined that Open Access is capable of fostering information and knowledge sharing within research, educational and scientific communities especially in traditionally or economically disadvantaged regions. Therefore,open access to knowledge has become essential for a country’s educational, socio-cultural, and scientific development.

Traditionally, scholarly publications have been sold on subscription to libraries and in the age of print on paper this was the only model available that enabled publishers to disseminate scholarly publications and recoup the cost. Unfortunately, this meant that only researchers in institutions that could afford to pay the subscription charges were able to read these scholarly articles. Even wealthy universities could only afford a proportion of the world’s research literatures and for institutions in poorer countries this proportion is tiny or even non-existent. However, the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002 was the first global Open Access initiative. Attending scholars were asked to sign an agreement to preferentially publish their findings in open access journals. This agreement can still be signed online today. In 2003, the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities was published after a Conference with that name. Open access basically emerged to address the issue of escalating cost of scholarly and scientific journals, which had restricted scholars free access to research works globally.

Since the emergence of Open Access initiative, the concept has been defined in different ways by numerous authors. The concept of Open Access was first defined globally by Budapest Open Access Initiative in Swan (2012:15) thus:

Free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the Internet itself.

In the same vein, Bethesda (2003) sees open access as, where the author and copyright holder grants all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use. Also, Suber (2010)sees Open Access (OA) as broad, and goes beyond scholarly publications. The writerdescribes openaccess literature asdigital, online, free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Suber further stressed that open access contents are not restricted only to peer-reviewed research articles.They can be in any format from texts and data to software, audio, video and multi-media. However, the Open Access movement focuses on peer-reviewed research articles and their preprints. Open Access can also apply to non-scholarly contents like music, movies and novels, even if these are not the principal focus of most Open Access activists. Therefore, from the foregoing definitions, the researcher simply define Open Access as a barrier-free access to online works and other resources which can be in any format from texts and data to software, audio, video and multi-media.

Consequently, like any other information resource, open access resources have their forms or characteristics for which they are known. However, Harnad (2008) has described the characteristics of Open Access as information, which is free, immediate, permanent, full-text, on-line and accessible. Harnad further suggested three main justifications of Open Access. These are, to maximize the uptake, usage, applications and impact of the research output of a university; to measure and reward the uptake, usage, applications and impact of the research output of a university (research metrics); and to collect, manage and showcase a permanent record of the research output and impact of a university. Therefore, from Harnad’s view and description of Open Access distinctiveness, it will not be wrong to say that Open Access has seven peculiarities:

  1. It is free availability of scholarly publication;
  2. It is free of copyright and licensing restrictions;
  3. Its materials are available online or on the Internet;
  4. Its materials are full text;
  5. Its materials can be accessed by anybody from anywhere without any discrimination;
  6. Its materials can be freely used by anyone;
  7. Open Access contents can be scholarly articles and their preprints in any format from texts and data to software, audio, video, andmulti-media.

Conversely, any form of scientific output (research work) can and should be made openly available by simply postingit onto a website. This can and does happen for journal articles, book chapters and whole books, data sets of all types including graphics, photographs, audio and video files and software. Wallis (2009) observed that academic libraries have come up with two major Open Access initiatives which are Institutional Repositories and Open Access Journal Systems. Institutional Repositories (IRs) are also known as Digital Repositories, Open Access Repositories or The Green Route to Open Access. Swan (2012)defined Open Access repository as that technology that houses collections of scientific papers and other research outputs and makes them available to all on the Web.Swan further opined thatOpen Access Repositories may be institutionally-based, enhancing the visibility and impact of the institution or they may be centralized, subject-based collections like the economic repository (research papers in economics). The researcher went further to explain institutional repositories as digital collections of the outputs created within a university or research institution.

Institutional Repositories (IRs) is seen as the hallmark of open access publishing.Grundmann (2009) opined that IRs are widely seen as the fastest route to open access to the widest range of scholarly and research literatures since they allow authors to publish in their choice of journals while providing the broadened access without pay barriers. Grundmann also observed that scholars retain their ability to publish in the most prestigious journals in their field while simultaneously breaking down barriers to the wide dissemination of their research. Reviewed literature further reveals that Open Access repositories (or archives) are digital collections that make their contents freely available over the Internet. These digital repositories collect the research output of the members of a university’s research community and support the archiving and long-term preservation of the institution’s intellectual output. Mostly, institutional repositories are hosted within academic libraries around the world to digitally collect and preserve academic papers and documents in order to make them freely accessible to the students, faculty and the public.

As for the second type of Open Access initiative which is Open Access Journals (OAJ) which is also known as ‘The Golden Route to Open Access publishing’, it is seen as another major initiative towards Open Access itself. According to Abukutsa-Onyango, (2010), Open Access can be achieved by launching Open Access Journals or converting existing journals to Open Access. Abukutsa-Onyango further stated that the best-known Open Access software is the Open Journal System. However, Suber (2006) went ahead to define Open access journals as scholarly journals that are available online to the readers without financial, legal or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.Hirwade and Rajyalakshmi (2006) further buttressed that Open access journals are peer reviewed journals made available, free of charge, to the public through the Internet.

Some Open Access journals charge a document management fee from authors. Open Access journals allow free access to read, download, copy, distribute and print articles and other informational material. They are peer-reviewed. Open access to research journals and literature accelerates research and enriches education and knowledge sharing between more developed countries and less developed countries. Stranack (2008) opined that, several libraries have launched Open Access journals. Stranack further gave examples which included the University of Toronto’s Journal Hosting Service, The Canadian Online Journal of Queer Studies in Education, Clinical & Investigative Medicine which is the official journal of the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation and, The University of Toronto Journal of Undergraduate Life Sciences (JULS).

Giarlo (2005) observed that even if scholars did not turn to Open Access in order to bypass unaffordable access fees, they would turn to it in order to take advantage of the Internet as a powerful new technology for sharing knowledge instantly, with a worldwide audience, at zero marginal cost, in a digital form amenable to unlimited processing.Giarlo further observed that open access can provide numerous benefits such as researchers having wider visibility and usage of their research findings, open accessresources give a significantly larger and more diverse audience, increased exposure to research also increases citation rate, open access also provides an avenue to connect with a global society more easily and researchers can publish without printing costs and readers around the globe can have barrier free access to the latest literature and research findings. In the same vein, Willinsky (2010) buttress that Open Access can give authors a worldwide audience larger than that of any subscription-based journal no matter how prestigious or popular and demonstrably increases the visibility and impact of their work. For journals and publishers, Open Access makes their articles more visible, discoverable, retrievable and useful because they are displayed on the World Wide Web. If a journal is Open Access, then it can use this superior visibility to attract submissions and advertisement, not to mention readers and citations. In addition, the benefit to libraries is that Open Access solves the high subscription price and permission crisis for scholarly journals. Open Access also serves library interests in other indirect ways especially where librarians want to help users find the information they need. Regardless of the budget-enforced limits on the library’s own collection, Open Access augments the limited library collection. Universities can also benefit from their researchers’ increased impact created by their publications in Open Access and the university’s visibility is also being increased as their researchers are cited and their publications referenced globally.

However, from the preceding facts on the concept of open access and its profits to library users, awareness is still a pre-requisite to subsequent use of open access publications unless an individual uses it unknowingly. According to Stevenson (2008:28), “awareness is having knowledge of something”. This could also mean having information about something or even being familiar with something. However, according to Dinev, Hart and Mullen (2008), awareness raises consciousness and knowledge about a certain technology and its personal and social benefits. Dinevet al further supported this view by establishing awareness as the central determinant of user attitude and behaviour towards technology. In the open access environment, awareness has also been acknowledged as an important factor determining the use of this mode of scholarly communication (Fullard, 2007). However, the awareness of open access resources entails; being conscious of its existence, its features, its benefits, and subsequently how to easily access them online. Although the awareness of open access cannot be over emphasized, the concept of open access is assumed not to be widely known among researchers from different geographical localities and research disciplines. Some related literature indicated that open access is an unknown concept to many researchers and academicians. Even so, the library must go into deliberate awareness creation and advocacy amongst its users for open access resources to be maximally utilized. The users especially postgraduate students who are the major users of scholarly publications for their research, thesis and dissertation would need to be sensitized by the library on the basics of open access resources and how best to access them easily online.

Nevertheless, in any given library, quite a number of resources (finance, human and material) are usually devoted towards achieving its target objectives. The efforts geared  towards making a variety of information resources available and accessible in a library will be a waste of time if such materials are not adequately utilized. It is through the use of available library materials that academic excellence can be achieved. Ashiru (2003) opined that libraries all over the world play vital roles in the intellectual development of students because such libraries are the nerve centres of all academic activities in any citadel of learning. Ashiru further opines that to achieve academic excellence, students should make significant use of library resources, open access resources inclusive.To Aguolu and Aguolu (2002), it is impossible for any nation or institution to develop without creative and imaginative utilization of accumulated information.Muthiah (2016) acknowledges that the Five Laws of Library Science formulated by Ranganathan revolve around the user or are user-centered, thus emphasizing the service nature of the profession. One of the laws, “books are for use” implies that information resources in a library system are for utilization. Therefore, utilization in this present study refers to the proper use of information in order to achieve a desired educational or scholarly result.Utilization of Information resources and services is usuallydetermined by the library statistical record, which shows the number of materials consulted and those actually borrowed for home reading but for open access resources utilized to be ascertained, the history of websites visited by users on the computer system will need to be visited and checked.However, it may be appropriate to deduce that the decision making of an individual, to a great extent, depends on the degree of his or her information resources patronage or use, especially utilization of open access resources. This is because it encompasses current and relevant research findings that are panacea to issues of life. Hence, the need for open access utilization by library users including postgraduate students who are potential researchers in the university learning environment cannot be over emphasized.

Presumably, university education has assumed a centre stage in the development of Nigeria. The rate universities are established and the immense population seeking admission in these universities in Nigeria shows that the quest for knowledge is increasing. This was supported by Ajadi (2010) who observed that it is the importance attached to university education for the development of high level manpower that has led to the proliferation of universities in Nigeria. In the same vein the writer also opined that the university among other institutions trains the country’s high level manpower and is invariably a potent driver of its economic, political and social development. In the present age, it is no gainsaying that no country can develop beyond the level of its educational institutions, especially universities. Ajadi further observed that Public Universities have a near monopoly in providing university education in Nigeria until 1999. However, the market-friendly reforms initiated under the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), the deregulation policies and the financial crisis of the states created an encouraging environment for the emergence of private universities in Nigeria.

According to Gabriel (2013), a private university is one established and run by entities other than a state or federal government which may include those run by faith-based organizations, individuals, community development associations, among others. Gabriel further stressed that in Nigeria, faith organizations, group of individuals and individuals largely constitute proprietorship of private universities. Ajadi in Belfied and Lerin (2003) defined private universities as non-public or independent universities which do not receive governmental funding and are usually administered by denominational or secular boards. Others are universities operated for profit. Ajadi further observed that, private universities can be said to function independently of any federal or state funding. They are privately owned and operated and maintain their faculty and campuses through private endowments. As privately operated institutions, they can set their own rules and regulations and can maintain exclusive attendance requirements. Private universities may be affiliated to certain religious groups or certain specific fields of study or they may be exclusive to women or men. Also, private universities are as varied as the students who attend them.

Besides the hike in school fees which is assumed to be the major internally generated revenue (IGR) for private universities, some positive peculiarities can be associated with them ranging from highly qualified teachers and fewer students in class when compared to public ones. This gives a more personal learning experience as opposed to being in a large lecture hall. Also, the issue of lecturers going on strike and disrupting the academic calendar is completely eradicated. However, private universities in Nigeria within the past decade have started running postgraduate education in many diverse fields of study at different levelsand to maintain and protect their global reputation, these universities besides providing physical structures, must willingly meet their supreme goal of producing qualified graduates that will steer the country’s educational, economic and socio-cultural sector forward. Thus, in attaining this, private universities via their libraries need to provide their students, especially postgraduate students with adequate, current and relevant information resources that will meet their information need.

Consequently, besides undergraduate students who are the major applicants to private universities, it is envisaged that Nigerian private universities will be teeming in the nearest future with postgraduate students since some of the private universities have started running postgraduate programmes. Postgraduate education, in the submission of Asogwa, Wombo and Ugwuoke (2014)involves learning and studying for degrees, professional or academic certificates or other qualifications for which a first or Bachelor’s degree generally is required and it is normally considered to be part of higher education.Pertinently, those involved in postgraduate education, as the name implies, should also be postgraduate students. Collins (2012) asserted that postgraduate students are learners who continued to study for an advanced degree after earning a bachelor’s degree or other first degree. Asogwa et al (2014) further buttress that postgraduate students are individuals who are studying for a degree beyond that of their bachelor’s degree to obtain postgraduate diploma, masters or doctorate degree.This was stressed by Ugwu, Ifeanyieze and Agbo (2015) when they said postgraduate students are individuals who are furthering their studies in universities after obtaining their bachelor degree. These students carry out research into a problem area in their different fields of study. They are students who have obtained degrees from a university or other tertiary institutions and are engaged in studies for a more advanced qualification. Therefore, in the context of this study, postgraduate students are individuals who have first degree and are studying for postgraduate diploma, masters or doctorate (Ph.D.) degree.

Postgraduate students are in two major groups, masters and PhD students although there are some students that are studying for postgraduate diploma in different areas of knowledge. In North America, this level is generally referred to as graduate school. The organization and structure of postgraduate education varies in different countries as well as in different institutions within countries. Though, there are two main types of qualificationstudied for at the postgraduate level: academic and professional degrees. Meanwhile, the term degree in this context means the moving from one stage or level to another. However, from the preceding, postgraduate students are obviously the future of the academic world. They are assumed to be users of research and scholarly information resources in most academic information centres especially in academic libraries because of the nature of their research orientated curriculum which is evident in the extensive nature of their project, thesis or dissertation work. In order for them to have an improved academic performance and quality research, these students will need to be provided with apt, current and relevant information resources that Open Access Initiative can provide for. Thus, there is the need to create awareness among library users, especially postgraduate students on the existence of open access resources and the numerous benefits that can be derived from them. 

Inspite of the stated numerous benefits which Open Access has to offer to academic libraries and their users in developing countries, inadequate advocacy and misconceptions of Open Access can bring a setback in developing countries. It is, however, assumed that there is the possibility of misconception of the existence and benefits of Open Access Publishing in some parts of developing countries. For instance, at the University of West Indies (UWI) in Trinidad, only 23% of the staff were aware of open access journals and 8% were aware of digital archives and repositories. As an example of misconceptions of open access sources, one lecturer’s publication in an open access journal was refused to be considered for his promotion by the University’s promotion committee, since he had paid money to publish in open access journals, which is the usual way to publish in an open access journal (Papin-Ramcharan and Dawe, 2006). Hence, from the preceding, the knowledge of open access institutional repositories is very low amongst some major stakeholders in some developing countries, butis this the case in West Africa, especially with Nigerian Private Universities? This is partly what this present study hopes to find out.