Research Data Management Practices at the University of Namibia: Moving Towards Adoption


The management of research data in academic institutions is increasing across most disciplines. In Namibia, the requirement to manage research data, making it available for the purposes of sharing, preservation and to support research findings, has not yet been mandated. At the University of Namibia (UNAM) there is no institutional research data management (RDM) culture, yet RDM may nevertheless be practiced among its researchers. The extent to which these practices have been adopted is, however, not known. This study investigated the extent of RDM adoption by researchers at UNAM. It identifies current or potential challenges in managing research data, and proposes solutions to some of these challenges that could aid the university as it attempts to encourage the adoption of RDM practices. The investigation used Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) theory, with a focus on the innovation-decision process, as a means to establish where UNAM researchers are in the process of adopting RDM practices. The population under study were the UNAM faculty members who conduct research as part of their academic duties. Questionnaires were used to gather quantitative data. The study found that some researchers practice RDM to some extent out of their own free will, but there are many challenges that hinder these practices. Overall, though, there is a lack of interest in RDM as the knowledge of the concept among researchers is relatively low. The study found that most researchers were at the knowledge stage of the innovation-decision process and recommended, among other things, that the university puts effort into creating RDM awareness and encouraging data sharing, and that it moves forward with infrastructure and policy development so that RDM can be fully adopted by the researchers of the institution. 

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