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Adoption of institutional repositories for electronic theses and dissertations projects in Zimbabwe’s public academic libraries Abstract Theses and dissertations (TDs) are an invaluable scholarly literature output of universities’ graduates contributing to the fulfilment of universities’ mandates to impact national development through research. Public universities in Zimbabwe have adopted Open access institutional repositories (IR) to run electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) programs. This study sought to determine the development levels of the ETD collections, establish the software platforms being used and, find out challenges being faced in developing ETD collections in the repositories. The Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology was adoptedEnd Match while a mixed methods approach was employed. From eight universities, data were collected from Library Directors, assistant/IR librarians, IRs, policy documents and OpenDoar through questionnaires, interviews and bibliometric analysis. Qualitative data was analysed thematically while SPSS was adopted to analyse quantitative data. Findings showed slow development of the ETD collections while DSpace is the software of choice across the universities. Faculty cooperation in depositing electronic theses and dissertations is negligent, thus affecting progress of the initiative. Mandating deposit of electronic copies of theses and dissertations would propagate population of the repositories and increase visibility of the research. Keywords: Electronic theses and dissertations, Institutional Repositories, Digital Repositories, Zimbabwe Introduction and background Universities play a significant role in research and development, but their value can only be felt when the research generated by their institutions’ academics, researchers and postgraduate students is easily findable and accessible for the public good. A gap was observed in the accessibility and availability of knowledge from universities in the Southern African region (Abrahams et al., 2008). Using the WoS, Robert Tijssen and Jos Winnink from Leiden University in the Netherlands, plotted Africa’s research output between 2007 and 2017 by counting papers with at least one Africa-domiciled author and found that in 2007 the output was 1.9 percent which increased to 3.1 percent in 2017 (Nordling, 2018). South Africa has a reasonably degree of visibility (Abrahams et al., 2010:24) as it has attracted many students from countries across the region (Trotter et al., 2014:37), hence its success and supremacy in research productivity. Out of the 1,546 doctorates produced in the region in 2010, South Africa accounted for 89%, while 125 were produced by the other countries (Kotecha, Walwyn and Pinto, 2011:12). The Begin Match to source 2 in source list: Mass Tapfuma, Ruth Hoskins. World Bank/Elsevier report (2014),End Match puts Begin Match to source 2 in source list: Mass Tapfuma, Ruth Hoskins. Sub- Saharan Africa’s share of global researchEnd Match output at less than 1%, which places Begin Match to source 2 in source list: Mass Tapfuma, Ruth Hoskins. Africa’s research performanceEnd Match at a Begin Match to source 2 in source list: Mass Tapfuma, Ruth Hoskins. much lowerEnd Match level Begin Match to source 2 in source list: Mass Tapfuma, Ruth Hoskins. than expected if the potential contribution of researchers in the continent is to be realized for theEnd Match public good (Adams, King and Hooks, 2010). It was on the backdrop of this record and realization that theses and dissertations were inaccessible that the Begin Match to source 3 in source list: of African universities (AAU) initiated andEnd Match “supported efforts towards putting Africa’s research output onto the mainstream of world knowledge” resulting in Begin Match to source 3 in source list: Match birth Begin Match to source 3 in source list: Match the Database of Begin Match to source 3 in source list: Theses and DissertationsEnd Match – Research Begin Match to source 3 in source list: Match R) Begin Match to source 3 in source list: 2000.End Match This came on Begin Match to source 3 in source list: Match heels Begin Match to source 3 in source list: aEnd MatchBegin Match to source 3 in source list: project to index, abstract and distribute theses andEnd Match dissertation from Begin Match to source 3 in source list: universitiesEnd Match (AAU, 2019). Theses and dissertations are the most underutilized resource in Africa as they are left to gather dust in library shelves or other inaccessible places before publications can be extracted from them. Where printed TDs were deposited in the library, access to them had been restricted to use on campus or within the library. The DATAD project successfully launched its online database of abstracts in April 2003 where only four countries have participated, namely, Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Evidently there is very little progress in making Africa’s research output increasingly visible and accessible on the public domain. Despite this gloomy picture of the AAU efforts, hope is not lost as universities moved to establish institutional repositories Begin Match to source 1 in source list: capture, store, archive and widely disseminateEnd Match research produced by Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Match students and scholars. Theses and dissertations constitute the biggest portion of IR content. A study by Xia & Opperman (2010) found that almost 50% of contributions to IRs were from students in the form of theses and student journals (project papers). Accessibility and visibility of ETDs on the internet is central to (re)generation of new knowledge and sustainable development and, assists in averting duplication of research. Using the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) this study explored the utilization of IRs in Zimbabwe’s public universities to increase visibility of students’ scholarship. Statement of the problem and objectives Studies (Abrahams et al., 2008; Mouton et al., 2008) revealed that research productivity in Southern African universities, in comparison to performance of other regions across the globe, was low and that avenues of dissemination of the available grey literature were limited. Theses and dissertations (TDs) form the base of the pyramid of knowledge production from which publications are drawn (Abrahams et al., 2008). Therefore, recommendations were, made for the universities to adopt Open Access (OA) platforms to increase availability, access and visibility of their research output. IRs were set up in Zimbabwe’s public universities for this purpose, but studies have shown that most universities struggle to make their IRs active and vibrant with most of them being 85% empty (Harnad, 2011; Bankier and Perciali, 2008). To ascertain the achievement of the open access agenda to increase availability and visibility of local scholarship for the public good, this study explored the level of development of the ETD collections in the repositories and established challenges being experienced by the libraries in their development. Objectives of the study The specific objectives were to: 1. Determine the level of development of theses and dissertations collections in institutional repositories of public universities in Zimbabwe. 2. Establish the preferred software platforms for ETDs. 3. Find out the challenges faced by the university libraries in developing the repositories. Unified theory of acceptance and use of technology The UTAUT model developed by Venkatesh et al (2003) is an amalgam of eight technology acceptance theories concerned about individuals’ decision making behaviour regarding acceptance and adoption Begin Match to source 1 in source list: technology (Oye, A.iahad & Ab Rahim, 2012).End Match Through Begin Match to source 1 in source list: model,End Match implementers of a new technology are able to understand factors contributing to its acceptance and use so that they can timeously plan interventions for increased adoption and usage of the system by stakeholders, that is, librarians, academics and students. The UTAUT model has four key determinants of usage intention and behaviour, which Begin Match to source 1 in source list:, performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence and facilitating conditions. These determinants of technology usage behaviour areEnd Match mediated Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Match variables of Begin Match to source 1 in source list:, gender, experience and voluntarinessEnd Match of use. However, these mediating variables were not considered in the study. The strongest predictor of behaviour intention in both voluntary and mandatory settings is the ‘performance expectancy’ variable; it is concerned with the user’s level of belief that by using the system they will attain gains in job performance. The variable ‘effort expectancy’ refers to the level of ease of use of the system. The model assumes that despite the variable being significant in both mandatory and voluntary situations, it is only significant in the early stages (post training) and slows down over time. Social influence refers to the extent to which a person perceives that peers (consortium members, workmates or academic community) expects them to Begin Match to source 4 in source list: Shan Wang, Norman Archer, Wuping Zheng. use the new system. Facilitating conditions refer to theEnd Match extent Begin Match to source 4 in source list: Shan Wang, Norman Archer, Wuping Zheng. to whichEnd Match a person Begin Match to source 4 in source list: Shan Wang, Norman Archer, Wuping Zheng. believes that anEnd Match organisational Begin Match to source 4 in source list: Shan Wang, Norman Archer, Wuping Zheng. and technical infrastructure exists to support use of the system. The modelEnd Match assumes that ‘facilitating conditions’ will not significantly influence behavioural intention (Venkatesh et al. 2003). The UTAUT model is applicable in both voluntary and mandatory usage participants. This study assumed that some universities have policies that make usage of ETDs and IRs mandatory while others do not. Literature Review Technological developments in the twenty first century have seen a significant change occurring in the storage, preservation and dissemination of theses and dissertations from the traditional bound format to the electronic format known as electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). This has improved findability and distribution of student generated research findings and enabled knowledge sharing beyond geographical boundaries. Submission of bound TDs to the library limited access as it obliged prospective users to visit the library to retrieve printed copies which in some cases were kept under closed access for consultation within the library. In the establishment of institutional repositories (IR), many universities incorporated ETD programs in the open access IR platforms. This strategy is supported by Lynch (2017:128) who proffers that an IR “can be instrumental in advancing the electronic theses and dissertations movement”. Theses and dissertations are a cherished academic literature genre (Yioti, 2007), produced by postgraduate students at Master’s and PhD levels. Postgraduate programmes offered in most disciplines across the globe require their students to do research as a condition for them to complete a programme. Perrin, Winkler and Yang (2015) in concurrence with McCutcheon (2011) say that ETDs have become the best way of distributing student scholarship as they increase findability and dissemination. According to McCutcheon, a study in 2000 at Virginia Tech University established that circulation of a print theses in a year occurred twice while that of a dissertation happened three times per year in the first fours year of availability in the library. Contrary to this, a single ETD had 650 downloads on average with an observed interest coming from external international audiences. Because of their nature, TDs have been classified as grey literature which is described as: …manifold document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats that are protected by intellectual property rights, of sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by library holdings or institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers i.e., where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body. (Schöpfel, 2010). Submission of theses and dissertations to a university school or faculty is mandatory though deposit to the library in some institutions remains voluntary. Universities with ETD programmes require students to submit an electronic version of the theses or dissertation to facilitate upload of full-text. This means that for ETD programmes to succeed, “a variety of collaborative, managerial and preservation skillsets” is required as ETDs transform the traditional practice of publishing TDs (Perrin, Winkler and Yang, 2015; Early and Taber 2010; Book and Kunda, 2009; Yiotis 2008); the library has to increasingly work together with the graduate or research office, the faculties and scholars. The graduate office is responsible for policy formulation regarding collection and deposit of ETDs to the library; it works closely with faculties and supervisors of theses and dissertations in ensuring that submission procedures are observed. The library’s product offering, and collection development practice is also transformed by inclusion of ETDs, some of which have an embargo period, could be 6 months to a year, before full text can be published. Library staff would require new skillsets in copyright clearance, consultation with supervisors and students whose TDs’ embargo period would have expired to find out whether to lift the embargo or keep it for a bit longer because the innovation is awaiting to be patented or they would want to publish articles before the theses or dissertation is published. UNESCO (2001: 2.1 section) proffers that TDs reflect the quality of intellectual output of a university’s graduates and its ability to guide and support original research by students. Schopfel and Rasuli (2018:212) determine that several factors contribute to the quality of a PhD theses, such as, the quality of supervision, the university’s reputation and excellence, and the student’s research and writing skills. The bottom line is that TDs are an essential information resource in the scholarly communication ecosystem as they contribute to academic discourse and the continuous cycle of information (re)generation for the development of local solutions to local problems and contributing to the achievement of sustainable development goals. Electronic theses and dissertations repositories have several advantages for the institution, the student and scholars. They improve graduate education, preserve and promote knowledge sharing (Yiotis, 2007; Suleman and Fox, 2003). Students stand to benefit more from ETDs as they are exposed to emerging formats and types of TDs resulting in reconceptualisation of academic writing (Yiotis 2007; Fox, 2001; Moxley, 2001). Visibility and exposure of students’ work is also increased as ETDs showcase a university’s intellectual output to a global audience. Moxley (2001) discerns that ETDs attract potential funding opportunities for students and their faculty due to increased visibility of their works while gaining recognition in their profession. In addition, storage space is saved in the library while providing immediate delivery of research to both local and distantly located users. Access barriers are removed and borderless access and discovery at low or no cost to the remote user is enabled. The fact that a remote user no longer spends money and time travelling to the library makes ETDs one of the most favoured avenue of TD delivery and distribution by the scholarly community (Perrin, Winkler and Yang, 2015; Fox, MacMillan and Srinivasan, 2012). However, Schopfel and Rasuli (2018) say that creation of ETD repositories does not guarantee accessibility and availability of TDs. Depending on the supervisor, student, faculty or discipline many ETDs remain embargoed or in some cases access is limited to on-campus users (Schopfel and Rasuli, 2018; Schopfel and Prost, 2014). Institutional repositories conform to an internationally accepted set of technical metadata standards, that is, Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH)End Match in Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Match the bibliographic details (author’s name, institutional affiliation, title of article, abstract, keywords and so forth) of a record are captured. This facilitates indexing of the repository’s contents by web search engines like Google, thereby enabling freely available global research through online OA databases (Swan n.d). It is important to note that institutional repositories have a long-term preservation objective (Lynch, 2003) seeking to address future storage of information (Perrin, Winker and Yang, 2015; Early and Taber, 2010). Some libraries have instituted policies mandating deposit of both printed copies and electronic copies of TDs; others, for instance, the Vanderbilt University, during its pilot project required electronic submissions from participating departments; the University of Kenturky offers an option to submit either print or electronic versions, while others have simply done away with print copies and only accept electronic copies (Yiotis 2007; Smith 2002). Yiotis (2007) reports that the Sheridan Libraries of the Johns Hopkins University in 2006 put on its website a notice that as they were piloting the various ETD management systems students who were willing to participate in the project were not exempt from submitting printed versions of their theses or dissertations. The choice of electronic publishing systems or software where ETDs can be hosted is also of interest for institutions wishing to establish ETD repositories. Studies show that DSpace is the most preferred software for repositories because of its flexibility for customization, followed by Bepress' Digital Commons, Eprints and Greenstone (Xia and Opperman 2010; Rieh et al., 2007; Witten et al., 2005). The DSpace platform was developed for “long-term digital content storage and preservation [and]… as a service of the Libraries” Chudnov, (2001:284). The software is ideal for use in large institutions” (Ravikumar and Ramanan 2014). A study by Ifeanyi, Ezema and Ugwu (2013) on the status, challenges and strategies of ETDs in Nigerian universities found a few universities with a sizeable number of TDs and 62.5% of the universities did not have ETD projects and some of the challenges experienced by the universities included irregular power supply, absence of funding, poor ICT infrastructures, and the lack of ETD policy in the universities. The authors recommended that government should provide adequate funding to facilitate implementation of ETD projects and development of ETD policies by the universities. Methodology The mixed methods approach was employed to obtain a holistic picture of IR development in the public universities by mixing the qualitative and quantitative approaches (Creswell, 2006). Interviews were conducted with eight Directors of Research and eight Library Directors while semi-structured questionnaires were distributed to 40 assistant/faculty librarians. Twenty- five assistant/faculty librarians completed the questionnaires, giving a 62.5% response rate. Directors of Research were included since they are policy makers in the institutions while librarians are responsible for the development of the IRs. Five universities’ OA/IR policies were availed for analysis and two universities were still in the process of drafting their policies. Websites of the universities including OpenDoar, ROAR and DATAD-R databases were also analysed. The units of analysis comprised Begin Match to source 1 in source list: public universities, namely Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), Great Zimbabwe University (GZU), Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), Lupane State University (LSU), Midlands State University (MSU), National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU). The University of Zimbabwe (UZ), refused to participate, whileEnd Match three universities, Begin Match to source 1 in source list: State University (GSU), Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences and Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology were excluded because they were under the tutelage of NUST, MSU and UZ respectively.End Match For confidentiality, Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Match identity of the institutions was not revealed in data analysis. Due to the relatively small size of the population a census was done. as it would help to eliminate sampling error and a desirable level of precision would be achieved (Israel, 1992). Findings Development of the ETD programmes in the repositories Results in Table 1 show that all the universities had IRs which have been operational for between nine to 13 years. Seven (87.5%) universities run two sets of repositories, that is, six (75%) universities keep Begin Match to source 1 in source list: for use by theEnd Match internal Begin Match to source 1 in source list: communityEnd Match and the other Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Match is on the public domain. One (25%) of these, university 7 has both repositories on the public domain but only one hosts ETDs. One (12.5%) institution maintains one OA repository in which ETDs are excluded for intellectual property reasons. The university collects printed versions of TDs. The intranet repositories in the universities house examination papers and largely undergraduate dissertations. Begin Match to source 1 in source list: (75%) universitiesEnd Match include Begin Match to source 1 in source list: class undergraduate dissertations and postgraduateEnd Match ETDs Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Match IRs that are Begin Match to source 1 in source list: the public domainEnd Match while Begin Match to source 1 in source list: (12.5%) university’End Match s repository includes PhD theses only. The reason for keeping an intranet repository was, according to one Library Director, that they did not want to jeopardise their institutions’ image by showcasing substandard works. All the universities’ repositories are multi-discipline oriented and the contents are organized by discipline in communities which have further sub-divisions for specific subjects. The Begin Match to source 1 in source list:, schools, institutes or centres within a university constitute the communities,End Match then Begin Match to source 1 in source list: or sections form the sub-groups called sub-units on the DSpace platform.End Match Two (25%) universities’ repositories have ETD programs listed as communities while the other five (62.5%) lump their ETDs together with other items in the subject or departmental communities. Table 1: Begin Match to source 1 in source list: repositories ofEnd Match Zimbabwe’s Begin Match to source 1 in source list: universitiesEnd Match University Begin Match to source 1 in source list: RegistryEnd Match No. Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Match No. of ETDs Content format Established listing records 1 2010 ROAR 2162 1667 Fulltext (Masters) Abstract (undergrad) 2 2011 64 25 Abstract 3 2012 4 2011 5 6 2012 2009 7 2007 2010 8 2012 ROAR ROAR ROAR, DATAD -R - 134 1503 Unknown 374 401 304 - 121 450 175 - 62 Fulltext No ETDs (IP issues) Abstract unknown Abstract No ETDs unknown Software Internet availability DSpace Searchable DSpace Searchable DSpace Blocked DSpace Unsearchable DSpace DSpace Searchable Blocked Greenstone Unsearchable DSpace Searchable DSpace Blocked The results in Table 1 show that university 1 has 1667 (the highest figure) ETDs at both the undergraduate and Masters levels, followed by university 5 with 304 ETDs, university 3 has 134 and the other two have 62 and 25 ETDs respectively. It should be noted that the number of records in IRs of two (25%) universities (6 and 7) could not be determined. A search in institution 5’s repository revealed duplicated records with one item having two to three entries. Therefore, the number of items in the repository is not a true reflection of the size of the ETD collection. Table 1 shows that only two (25%) repositories provide full-text ETDs while the rest avail abstracts and metadata only. The study also sought to establish if the repositories were registered with OpenDOAR, the ROAR or any other open source platform. Interviews revealed that five (62 Begin Match to source 1 in source list: universities had registered their repositories with OpenDoar and of theseEnd Match five, two (40%) were also registered with ROAR. However, analysis of the OpenDoar, ROAR and DATAD-R revealed that all the repositories which were once listed in the OpenDoar are now excluded, four (50%) are listed in the ROAR and one (12.5%) is listed in the DATAD-R (see Table 1). Searches on the institutions’ websites and IRs revealed that five (62.5%) repositories are inaccessible and only two (25%) are searchable. Three (37.5%) institutions outrightly blocked access while institutions two (25%) were continually unsearchable. Begin Match to source 1 in source list: (25%) universities registered theirEnd Match OA Begin Match to source 1 in source list: policies withEnd Match the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandates and Policies (ROARMap) in 2014 but as of 2019 they had been delisted from the repository. Software adopted for the repositories Data gathered from interviews, OA/IR policies, revealed that seven (87.5%) universities use the DSpace open source software and one (12.5%) uses Greenstone for its ETD project. Four (50%) Library directors mentioned that they had started their repository programs with the Greenstone software and two (25%) of them discarded it along the way because of difficulties they encountered in its use. One interviewee said: Staff had challenges, then in terms of speed and ease of use we had reservations again. So, we decided to move to Dspace... [because it] seems to be more popular than Greenstone…when we face problems it's easier to get assistance from others. Two universities continue to use Greenstone for their examinations and undergraduate dissertations repositories. Challenges faced in developing the ETD repositories Four (50%) universities took about six months to one year to have functional repositories, one (12.5%) of the of the institutions did not face any difficulties because the senior management were aware of the importance of IRs. Three (37.5%) universities faced stakeholder resistance leading to delays in starting the IR project. One of the interviewees said: People were not interested; they thought that we were creating an opportunity for those people who want to plagiarise, if works were to be exposed on the internet… So, we had to continue working on those perceptions. The universities had a challenge getting skilled IT personnel to deal Begin Match to source 1 in source list: the technical challengesEnd Match experienced Begin Match to source 1 in source list: the Greenstone software.End Match University 1 conceived the idea in the early days of the DATAD project; because of this challenge the project’s kick-off phase was laid back. In addition, the institutions could not recruit additional staff to maintain the repositories due to a job freeze imposed by the government. While the universities’ research policies mandate deposit of theses and dissertations, only two institutions specifically mandate deposit of ETDs. Clause 5.1 of university 3’s IR policy stipulates that TDs must be submitted to the library within 14 days after publication of the official results. Respondents indicated that their institutions do not require students to submit electronic copies of TDs and to get the printed copies they repeatedly implore departments to submit the TDs to the library. Discussion The UTAUT social influence variable influenced the universities decision to run internal repositories for on-campus consumption as they were conscientious of the quality of ETDS to include in the OA repository. The finding confirms UNESCO’s (2001) assertion that TDs expose the quality of intellectual output of a university’s graduates and its ability to guide and support original research by students. The finding that most of the universities mandate deposit of paper copies of the TDs and do not specifically require deposit of ETDs is detrimental to acceptance and adoption of the ETD concept by academics and students. However, some of the universities have ETDs while others do not. Facilitating conditions for the adoption of ETDs are largely absent and the universities’ policies are not in sync. This result resonates with findings of Yiotis (2007) and Smith’s (2002) studies which established that a mixed bag of policies existed in universities. Continual inaccessibility of most of the repositories defeats the objective of making the students’ work visible to a wide audience internationally and puts plugs on exposure of the institution, its scholars (their research interests or areas of expertise) and attraction of collaborative research initiatives. Such conditions do not facilitate sharing and dissemination of student research to a global audience. The OpenDoar has excluded the universities’ repositories because the registry now only collects and provides information for “sites that wholly embrace the concept of open access to full text resources that are of use to academic researchers [and excludes] sites where any form of access control prevents immediate access… sites that consist of metadata records only,” and also excludes sites that are continuously inaccessible (OpenDoar, n.d). It is evident from the results that the development of the ETD projects in the public academic libraries is quite slow. However, this state of development of ETD projects is not unique to Zimbabwe. A study by Ifeanyi, Ezema and Ugwu (2013) found that despite universities in Nigeria having huge collections of TDs only three institutions were running ETD projects. Seven universities use the DSpace open source software to host their ETD projects due to the popularity of use of software’s by universities in the country, thus rendering it easy to use. The decision to adopt the software by the majority of the libraries was influenced by the ‘effort expectancy’ variable of the UTAUT. Studies (Masrek and Hakimjavadi, 2012; Xia and Opperman, 2010; Rieh et al., 2007; Begin Match to source 1 in source list: et al., 2005)End Match also found Begin Match to source 1 in source list: the DSpace platform isEnd Match preferred by many universities due to its flexibility for customization. Amongst challenges faced by libraries in developing ETD projects and IRs is poor stakeholder buy-in due to the long-held concerns and fears of putting grey literature in the public domain by some pockets of the scholarly community. This indicates that sensitisation of stakeholders on the benefits of depositing grey literature and ETDs in the repositories requires to be addressed by the libraries an allay scholars’ fears if the innovations are to be successful. A study by Ramirez et al. (2013) revealed that journal editors and university presses do not regard ETDs as prior publications, therefore manuscripts drawn from these can be submitted for possible publication. The authors recommended that scholars and students be made aware of this. However, they also found that smaller presses were not keen to publish works derived from ETDs as they considered them a threat to their business. Thus, the performance expectancy variable influences acceptance and usage of the ETD and IR innovations in the public academic institutions. However, it would not be just to ignore the economic environment in which universities in Zimbabwe were operating under from the start of the repository initiative. The environment is characterized by inflation and is economically constrained. “Setting up a repository is a major undertaking for an institution” Begin Match to source 1 in source list: & Chawner, 2011:462) requiring financial and human resources for establishing and maintaining the repository.End Match Careful thought had to be put into the issue before the universities plunged into an IR project which Begin Match to source 1 in source list: would not be able to sustain in the long run.End Match The constrained financial situation of the universities explains the job freeze which crippled efforts to recruit additional skilled staff specifically for the management and maintenance of the repositories. Conclusion and Recommendations It is evident that development of ETD programmes in Zimbabwe’s public universities is very slow amid challenges of stakeholder buy-in to IRs and ETD initiatives and, lack of management support for successful implementation. The following recommendations are made: 1. The institutions should mandate deposit of electronic copies of theses and dissertations to propagate population of the repositories so that they increase findability of student research output. 2. The universities should endeavour to provide full-text of ETDs so that they contribute meaningfully to scholarly debate and knowledge sharing. 3. Promotion of awareness of the repositories and benefits accruing to stakeholders needs to be expedited through workshops so that concerns and fears of researchers and students are cleared for the good of the institution, its research community and the country at large.