|African Journals Distribution Programme: Evaluation of the Pilot Project (DFID, 1994, 20 p.)|
Research undertaken by the International African Institute (IAI) on the publication and distribution of scholarly journals in Africa found that:
· publishing outlets in Africa have dwindled. Compared to the 70s, there are now very few scholarly journals in Africa which have a record of regular publication
· there is a gross under representation of African scholarship in overseas publications
· journals that do still publish operate from a very insecure financial base
· very few African published journals are held by African university libraries. Such libraries no longer have budgets for the acquisition of periodicals. Donation programmes concentrate on western published journals
· there is a growing awareness of the importance of indigenous publication to African scholarship
The African Journals Distribution Programme (AJDP) was therefore developed as a scheme through which scholarly journals published in African countries could be made available to scholars and academics in other African countries. To do this the Programme purchases subscriptions on behalf of university libraries in Africa. Its objectives are to strengthen the African academic publishing sector and to enable the results of research undertaken in Africa to become more widely available. In the long term, it is hoped that this communication will contribute to the development and improvement of the quality of research in Africa.
The pilot project concerned journal subscriptions for 1994. It covered Anglophone Africa (outside of South Africa) and 18 journals were included. These were selected after receipt of a sample copy of the journal (to ensure that it contained well-researched and peer-reviewed articles) and after the return of a questionnaire, indicating that there was a publication schedule for 1994. The return of the questionnaire was also taken as evidence of a working postal system. The final list represented a variety of subject areas and a variety of countries of publication. No Nigerian or Malawian journals were included, because no replies were received.
University libraries in Anglophone countries were invited to participate. Again, their speedy response was taken as evidence that the country's postal service was working and that the libraries would manage the subscriptions well. No replies were received (in time) from Nigeria or Malawi. 15 libraries from 8 countries participated in the pilot project. Lists of journals (excluding titles published in their own countries or for which they already held subscriptions) were sent to each library and they were requested to select up to 12 titles. Full bibliographical details and an abstract of subject coverage were provided.
The requested number of subscriptions were then entered for each journal. The invoices were paid by IAI. The journals were sent directly to each library by airmail. (Appendices 1 & 2)
The total cost of the pilot project was around £11,500, out of which £7,300 paid for journal subscriptions. The funding came from ODA and DANIDA.
It is intended that AJDP will be handed over to African management within a time scale of three years. During the pilot project various bodies which might undertake this role were approached and one proposal was received.