Usability of the Institutional Repository by Faculty and Postgraduate Students at the University of Swaziland.
Saulus, Nokophila Rene.
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This study investigated service quality and technology acceptance factors that promote or inhibit UNISWA faculty and postgraduate students from effectively using their IR. This is based on the premise that the IR has remained under-utilised by faculty and postgraduate students, majority of whom are involved in research. They have also not been keen to deposit their published work in the IR. The study sought to address the following research questions: What are the perceptions of faculty and postgraduate students towards service quality in the use of the UNISWA IR? What quality factors influence the usability of UNISWA’s institutional repository by faculty and postgraduate students at UNISWA? What is the level of usage of UNISWA’s institutional repository by faculty and postgraduate students? What are the challenges of service quality facing faculty and postgraduate students in the use of the UNISWA IR? What is the role of librarians in promoting service quality of the UNISWA IR? The study was underpinned by the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), and the Service Quality model (SERVQUAL). The study adopted a post positivist paradigm using the survey research design. A mixed methods approach was used, focusing on faculty, postgraduate students, and librarians. Data was collected using survey questionnaires and interview schedules. Quantitative Data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to produce descriptive statistics, and qualitative data was analysed thematically and presented through narration and tables. The findings revealed that the UNISWA IR did not satisfy users’ service quality needs. It was further revealed that faculty and postgraduate students’ intensions to use and adopt IR were influenced by UTAUT constructs including, effort expectancy, performance expectancy, and facilitating conditions. The findings also indicated that majority of faculty were aware of the existence of the IR, while many students were not. Even though awareness levels were high amongst faculty, many of these respondents did not use the IR, followed by those who infrequently used it. Reasons for the poor usage included lack of awareness, limited time, lack of knowledge, preference for other web sources, lack of skills, discouraged by slow internet, and preference for reputable journals among others. The findings indicated that while students were likely to be inhibited by lack of computer access from using the IR, this was not the case with faculty. Moreover, respondents were not likely to be inhibited by fears of violating copyright restrictions from using the IR. The results further revealed that librarians’ IR promotion efforts were not adequate. Respondents suggested IR promotion strategies that would include specialised departmental workshops, periodically emailing users, seminars and presentations, posters, brochures and leaflets, orienting new staff and students, library skills classes, using faculty board meetings, social media, media, and word of mouth. This study has implications for practice, policy, and theory. From the practical perspective, the study enhances awareness about the role of IRs in gathering, preserving and disseminating scholarly content. The study further provides information upon which relevant training programs for faculty and students can be based to enhance the IR service. From a policy perspective, the study provides a framework for the development of relevant policies to guide IR content recruitment procedures, and the overall functioning of the IR. Theoretically, the study validates the applicability of the UTAUT theory and SERVQUAL model in an online library setting, from a developing country context. The study recommends amongst other things the need for IR administrators to conduct regular service quality assessments and usability studies in order to understand users’ service and technology needs. The study further recommends the improvement of IR usage levels through raising awareness about the IR, frequently training users, and the formulation of policies to guide the overall functioning of the IR.