African African Journals OnLine (AJOL) is a non-profit scholarly journal aggregator that focuses on the online visibility of and access to African-origin scholarly research. By using the internet as a gateway, AJOL aims to enhance conditions for African learning to translate into African development.
The African Journals OnLine (AJOL) project was initiated in 1997 by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), a charitable organization based in Oxford. AJOL made a partnership with the Public Knowledge Project and, in 2004, with Open Archive Initiatives. As of May 2008, AJOL hosts over 300 journals in social and natural sciences, technologies, agriculture, and health sciences, and holds indexes of more than 30,000 articles. Only the table of contents and abstracts are currently available, but AJOL anticipates full text availability in the near future.
AJOL and other scholarly resource sharing initiatives make the perspectives and research of African scholars visible and accessible to all scholars in the world. The success of AJOL has led to the development of similar initiatives in developing countries in South East Asia such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Nepal.
The African Journals OnLine (AJOL) project was initiated in 1997 by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), a charitable organisation based in Oxford, in the United Kingdom. The initial purpose was to "promote the awareness and use of African published journals in the sciences by providing access to tables of contents (TOCs) on the Internet." After a positive evaluation of the pilot in early 2000, AJOL was re-launched and expanded to include journals in other areas such as agriculture, social and natural sciences, technologies, and health sciences. Through INASP, AJOL formed a partnership with the Public Knowledge Project (PKP). AJOL included a Table of Contents and abstracts for over 175 journals from 21 African countries.
In 2004, AJOL developed its database to make it compatible with other online journal database protocol, particularly with Open Archives Initiative. Through the adaptation of the database to one with a compatible protocol, all journals of AJOL were indexed by Open Archive Initiative.
In 2005, AJOL worked with African Management and established a partnership with NISO (National Inquiry Services Centre) in South Africa. AJOL provides access to over 500 journals and more than 150,000 abstracts and over 100,000 full text articles. AJOL continues to enhance its presence in the world wide web, and thus in the global community, to contribute to the development of Africa.
The term digital divide refers to the gap between those people with effective access to digital and information technology and those without access to it. It includes the imbalances in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen. In other words, it’s the unequal access by some members of the society to information and communications technology, and the unequal acquisition of related skills. Groups often discussed in the context of a digital divide include socioeconomic (rich/poor), racial (majority/minority), generational (young/old) or geographical (urban/rural). The term global digital divide refers to differences in technology access between countries.
Of the 50 countries throughout the world classified as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) by the United Nations, 33 are in Africa. There is widespread awareness of the importance of education in addressing poverty in the long term; usually with an emphasis on primary and secondary education. A concurrent focus on higher education in the continent is also needed for African countries to sustainably develop their capacity and economies and lift the region out of under-development.
Primarily due to difficulties in accessing them, African research papers have been under-utilized, under-valued and under-cited in the international and African research arenas. In the past, the main information resources, published journals and journal articles available to and used by researchers, librarians and students in Africa are the same as those used in Europe and America. This is because information from the developed world is usually more readily available than that of developing countries. However, it does not adequately reflect the research output of Africa and is not always relevant or appropriate for higher education in Africa. Although access to global information resources is essential, access to the local research output from the continent is just as essential.
Despite the wide range of capacity and resources within and between African countries, strengthening research and research-publishing are crucial priorities for improving higher education in Africa. At the same time as information sources from the developed world are currently made available for free to Africa (such as HINARI, AGORA, OARE, JSTOR African Access Initiative and Aluka), there needs to be a corresponding focus on the online availability of information from Africa if increased local capacity in research and dissemination is to be attained. To this end, in a high-tech, information hungry and rapidly globalizing world, higher education in Africa needs technological tools to share and build on its own research output with neighboring countries and the rest of the world.
Scholarly journals remain a vital means of academic communication. In the information age, providing electronic access to journals is becoming the norm if that research is to reach the international audience who need to be aware of it. Many worthy peer-reviewed scholarly journals publishing from Africa lack the means to host their content online in isolation. Others do have sufficient resources but cannot attain the online visibility necessary to increase awareness of the valuable research contained within. There is a need to support the ongoing functioning and sustainability of journals publishing research from Africa.
The mission of African Journals OnLine (AJOL) is to support African research and counter the “North-South” and “West-East” inequality of information flow by facilitating awareness of and access to research published in Africa. Information from developed countries is not necessarily as relevant or appropriate for Africa as that from within the continent. AJOL provides an online system for the aggregation of African-published scholarly journals and offers global access to and visibility of the research output of the continent. As such, AJOL’s primary beneficiaries are scholarly, peer-reviewed, African-published journals, and secondary (also direct) beneficiaries are African and international members of the scholarly community needing to access African-published research.
AJOL hosts African-published, peer-reviewed scholarly journals for free and includes both open access and subscription-based journals. The meta-data of all participating journals is open access on the AJOL website. AJOL also provides an article download service for researchers to access full text of individual articles.
The AJOL website receives an average of 50,000 visits per month from over 250 countries around the world.
The International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) was established in 1992 by the International Council for Science (ICSU) to "improve access to information and knowledge through a commitment to capacity building in emerging and developing countries." Collaborating with a wide network of partners in sister organizations, development agencies and publishers, INASP has implemented programs in more than 40 countries world-wide. These programs are designed for stakeholders engaged in all stages of the research communication cycle, with activities targeted to the needs of researchers, editors, national publishers, and librarians as well as ICT professionals.
Following on from successfully initiating and establishing AJOL, INASP has established similar online journal projects in other regions, particularly in South and South East Asia. INASP also runs the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI), which provides support to researchers around the world through access to information and training and support for the use of information.
The Public Knowledge Project is a federally funded research initiative at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University on the west coast of Canada. It seeks to improve the scholarly and public quality of academic research through the development of innovative online environments. PKP has developed free, open source software for the management, publishing, and indexing of journals and conferences. Open Journal Systems and Open Conference Systems increase access to knowledge, improve management, and reduce publishing costs. The AJOL database was developed using the open-source journal management software called Open Journal Systems (OJS). Working collaboratively with this organisation, AJOL has been able to create a high quality website with greatly enhanced functionality.
NISC SA is an electronic publishing company specializing in bibliographic database products and African academic literature.
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