December 12 - 13, 2007
The last in a series of eight workshops planned for universities across sub-Saharan Africa towards the development of local scholarly publishing and review capacities that will build a strong research base of published work by African researchers and scholars, took place at the University of Ghana, Accra the capital city of Ghana, on December 12 to 13 2007. A total of 49 participants attended the two-day workshop. The participants represented a cross section of librarians, researchers, academics, potential editors, editors and information technology (IT) administrators from academic and research institutions in Ghana. Samuel Smith Esseh facilitated the workshop with the assistance of Paiki Muswazi.
The following are some of the highlights of the workshop:
- African scholarly works are poorly distributed, barely marketed and hardly accessed.
- The capacity to research and produce scholarship in Africa is concentrated in a few countries: Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.
- The African scientists do not have access to all the scientific literature they need to enable science to progress as efficiently and effectively as possible.
- In 2002, Africa, the second largest continent, had only 60 000 full time researchers/scientists.
- In most African Universities, students shun the library due to lack of resources. However electronic resources in the libraries is beginning to attract many students.
- Online publishing has the potential to reduce production costs. Open access electronic publishing holds great potential for Africa. Most university libraries in Africa are now equipped with servers and therefore stand in a good position to engage in or support online publishing.
- Concerns were raised on copyright laws in relation to the practice of online publishing. How are the rules for online publishing and print publishing different?
- Is Open Access publishing sustainable in Africa? If yes what are the appropriate economic models for OA in Africa.
- African print journals are not sustainable because of high production cost.
- National policies do not favor local print journal publishing.
- There are no policies providing enabling environment for online publishing.
- Research and publication in Africa is affected by lack of funding.
- Project initiated from the North comes with hidden agenda. Are there no hidden costs that come with the OJS open source software including all upgrades?
- Notwithstanding the support currently given by the funding agencies, implementation should take account of the long-term sustainability of OJS.
- Although Online Publishing holds many potential for Africa research and scholarship, there are still enormous challenges – bandwidth, unreliable power supply system and lack of hardware and skills – that need to be surmounted.
A large number of participants found the workshop highly informative and expressed interest in a follow up hands-on training session. One participant commented that “Knowledge gained will help in the management and editing of our institutional journal”. However, there was concern that the initiative may be affected by low bandwidth, unreliable power supply system and lack of hardware and skills and long term sustainability in Ghana. It was recommended that the Government of Ghana should develop and implement a policy on online publishing, including the allocation of required resources, and that closer collaboration with AJOL should be considered. A DVD on how to install OJS was handed out to participants to help kick start online publishing.
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