It has been noted that openly sharing university explicit knowledge achieves the objectives of why research should be conducted in the first place since it made available, accessible and visible to the public. Furthermore, the purpose of research is to solve, inter alia, societal problems and advance the well-being of mankind. In the past, society had limited access to the production and consumption of information; however, this has shifted to the availability of an abundance of information and knowledge.
The university benefits from the open access through the spreading of research output to other researchers, to the university community and also to the members of the public. The scholarly communication librarians need to work with students, librarians and academic staff to raise awareness about institutional repositories as a route to open access. The faculties and academic departments need to understand and appreciate open access as a means to advance research and enhance the visibility of what the university itself produces. However, advocating for open access has been taken as a challenge in the university community, especially due to among other things slow acceptance of open access by the academic staff and also lack of awareness of open access resources resulting in this being a barrier to advance knowledge in the institution. It has been noticed at the University of Johannesburg that without buy-in from the Executive Deans and Vice-Dean Research, there would be no such support whatsoever in sharing the university’s knowledge. The academic staff reflected that submitting research outputs to the library is an extra administration to them, while in realityit only takes 2-3 minutes to submit one paper systematically.
Scholarly communication has been changing due to factors such as the expensive subscription costs of information resource databases, regulations from the funding agencies to make research publicly and freely available; and also the impact of Internet capability to easily disseminate knowledge. This led to the development of open access scholarly communication, which enables publications to be freely available in an electronic formant without copyright and license restrictions. Open access has been revealed as a benefit to the universities and research institutions through increasing their rankings, global visibility, research impact factors and citations. It has made it easy to create and disseminate scholarly knowledge to the people to be able to solve societal problems and to easily conduct further research (Czerniewicz & Goodier, 2014:2). The use of an Institutional Repository is an innovative way to preserve institutional research output collectively and helps to easily access and disseminate scholarly publications (Zhong & Jiang, 2016:739).