African Language Material in Institutional Repositories: Visibility and Scholarly Impact

Keywords: African languages, institutional repositories, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, bibliometrics, altmetrics


Various international organisations such as the United Nations and the African Union recognise the value of language in development, peacebuilding and reconciliation. Language is also recognised in planning policies of countries such as South Africa where the National Development Plan of the country seeks to ensure that every citizen learns at least one African language by 2030. This paper sought to determine the availability, impact and visibility of African language material hosted by institutional repositories (IRs) at public universities in South Africa. Informetrics methods were applied using data obtained from DSpace, Google Scholar and ResearchGate to determine the impact and visibility. The most important findings were that 65.2 per cent of public university IRs had at least one African language document in their IRs. Overall, only 0.16 per cent of documents in public university IRs were in African languages. A total of 16 per cent of African language documents hosted by these IRs are in ResearchGate. This study appears to be the first to determine the visibility of African language documents hosted by IRs in South Africa in ResearchGate and their citation impact in Google. This study will add value to the literature on the role of academic libraries in preserving indigenous languages, knowledge, and culture.