African Journals Online - wonderful, but I want access

November 10, 2008, [MD]

Through Willinsky’s book “The Access Principle“, I came across the site African Journals Online, which is trying to make African journals more visible, and alleviate the problem that many of them are not being indexed in commercial indexing systems like SSCI, and have low visibility both to Western researchers, but also to researchers in other African countries.

The site publishes the abstract of 330 scholarly journals published in Africa, from Global Journal of Social Sciences based in Nigeria, via Shakespeare in Southern Africa published in South Africa, to Agronomie Africaine published in Cote D’Ivoir. Browsing through the latest issues, I found a number of articles that interest me, such as:

However, I want to actually read these articles… This is in no way denigrating a great project, but a cry out for more. When I present the ideas behind open access, and open educational resources, there is always someone who likens it to Western cultural imperialism, and how we will flood the rest of the world with our knowledge. Although not an argument to be taken lightly, I would argue that this is already happening, but that it is the developing countries themselves that can benefit the most from Open Access, also in terms of having their own knowledge spread! I really want to cite more authors from the countries that I do research in, but if I cannot access their writings, that is difficult - and sadly, even University of Toronto will not have subscriptions to many of these.

The Indian publisher MedKnow is a great example of how Open Access can benefit journals published in developing countries. With over 65 open access journals, that don’t charge subscription fees, it might be the biggest open access publisher in the world. Through distribution online, not only has print subscriptions increased significantly, international submissions have gone up, and together with income from paper subscriptions, Google ads on the online site helps turn a small profit. (See this article about open access in India for more information).


Stian Håklev November 10, 2008 Toronto, Canada
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