Previous research on scholarly communication in sub­Saharan Africa gener­

ally tackles challenges for authors, publishers and related organisations, and works out recommendations (for an overview, see Ngobeni 2010). This strand of research is based on working experiences, mainstream bibliomet­

rics, and on surveys and interviews with the parties involved. Esseh (2011) provided the most comprehensive study of this type, encompassing both quantitative and qualitative aspects, and outdating earlier empirical results.

Murray and Clobridge (2014) complement Esseh’s findings with a survey that represents about a third of all active African­based journals. According to Smart and Murray (2014), the African publishing market, still, awaits an extensive description.¹²⁴ The authors estimate that there are around 2,000

124 For history and literature studies, Ilieva and Chakava 2016 provide an extensive description; van Schalkwyk and Luescher 2017 study university presses comprehensively.

journal titles in sub­Saharan Africa.¹²⁵ Most journals are published by de­

partments and faculties. In Esseh’s survey (2011) of 80 African journal editors (86% males), only one journal was independent from a research institution, and scholarly societies are also minor players. However, this does not mean that the research institution provides funding for the journal.

Without fees paid by readers and/or authors, or help by external sponsors, many journals would have no budget whatsoever. Of all approximately one hundred non­South­African journals in Murray and Clobridge’s study (2014), 33% rely entirely on subscriptions for income, while two­thirds provide full texts for free online. The two groups are not necessarily com­

plementary, since most journals are available both online and in print. The publisher’s awareness for open­access licences is generally limited (ibid.).

According to Esseh (2011), ‘Global North’ publishers are not keen to enter the African market, because it is

so small, heterogeneous in nature, fragmented and unable to sustain their economic returns; moreover, their terms of operation, for example, assum­

ing complete ownership of the journal’s intellectual property, were unpop­

ular with many journal editors in Africa

The more recent survey of African journal publishers (Murray and Clo­

bridge 2014) indicates that more journals are now operated by commercial publishers (19%).

Massive overseas book donations strain local book publishers (Zell and Thierry 2015; van Schalkwyk and Luescher 2017), and widespread expect­

ations that university presses can make a profit were disappointed (Smart and Murray 2014; Ilieva and Chakava 2016). However, Addis Ababa Uni­

versity Press (est. 1967) and the University of Nairobi Press (est. 1990), both fully integrated into the universities’ governance, keep operating. While the latter is pressured to commercialise and internationalise, the former deliberately limits its distribution to 12 booksellers in Addis Ababa (van Schalkwyk and Luescher 2017). This corresponds to the WOS­based find­

ing that the substantial and growing research output of Ethiopia is ‘almost

125 ‘It is not clear how many journals […] circulate in Africa’, African Citation Index,, visited on 29 June 2020.

entirely domestic’ (Adams, Gurney et al. 2014). Further research is re­

quired in order to find out whether this strong domestic orientation is ap­

plicable to research in Ethiopia across all fields, and if a similar orientation can be found elsewhere in the world.

Major academic book publishers of Southeast Africa are few (Ilieva and Chakava 2016): East African Educational Publishers (Kenya, est. 1965 as imprint of Heinemannn, locally owned since 1992), Kenya Literature Bur­

eau (est. as a government agency in 1980, mostly for textbooks), Fountain Publishers (Uganda, est. 1988), and Mkuki na Nyota (Tanzania, est. 1991).

Beyond the region, especially South African presses provide their service to Southeast African authors; most notably for the SSH: the not­for­profit open­access publisher African Minds (est. 2012).

The African Books Collective bundles the programmes of Africa’s inde­

pendent publishers, offers print­on­demand, e­book and warehouse ser­

vices, and supplies libraries as well as the book trade worldwide. Ofori­

Mensah (2015) suggests that choosing a publisher involved with the col­

lective is a way out of the local­international dilemma for authors. Uk­

based Hogarth Representation also distributes books from Africa, and even offers approval plans and periodical subscription management to libraries.

To shift the focus on Africa’s journals again, according to Tijssen (2007), most of them are predominantly meant for local purposes. They tend to have relatively low circulation rates, and many are published irregularly.

In Esseh’s survey (2011), two­thirds of the journals paused publishing at some point.¹²⁶ Most often, this was due to financial constraints, e. g. lack of funds to cover the printing, but problems of sticking to the schedule with authors and reviewers also is a common problem. An interviewee in Esseh’s study explains that editors and reviewers ‘don’t feel they have legit­

imacy to work for the journals at the expense of their academic workload.’

Sometimes, there simply are not enough good submissions: the presenta­

tion style is weak, editorial criteria are not met, or methods are dubious, while theoretical frameworks usually meet the editors’ expectations (also

126 The survey participants in Murray and Clobridge 2014 report that only 20% of the journals experienced an interruption, a figure which seems far too low to me.

see Collyer 2018; Martín 2017; Omobowale 2010). At least for some jour­

nals sampled for the study at hand, discontinuity seems to co­occur with disruptive political events (see Schmidt 2016b).

The collection of African­published scholarly e­journals, AjOL, provides open access to 264 journals, and fee­based access to another 262 journals, 69% in the SSH,¹²⁷ of which 70% publish frequently (Smart and Murray 2014). Criteria for inclusion are elaborate.¹²⁸ First of all, the publishing entity must be based on the African continent, including at least half of the editorial board, and basically all operations must take place there as well, at least at the point of application. Furthermore, for instance, quality control (peer review) is required and the according processes must be described in the application. Everyone involved in the production of the journal must be listed with full contact details, and fees need to be transparent as well.

Sabinet African ePublications is another important collection, but focuses clearly on South Africa and the natural sciences. Although African e­jour­

nal collections are developing quickly, printed journals are still the key medium (also see Section 4.5.2). Esseh (2011, also see Canagarajah 1996, p. 441) rates print quality as usually low, but looking at the sample issues retrieved through inter­library loan in the context of the study at hand, I cannot confirm this: print quality is not premium, but looks generally pro­

fessional. It can happen that paper quality alters mid­issue, or the amount of ink varies across pages, but this is obviously due to the difficulties access­

ing material; printing becomes exceptionally expensive when everything needed has to be imported from overseas. Because of that, I assume, in­

ferior print quality, which regularly occurs with old printing presses, will not be a reason to discard the print, as each ‘Global North’ printer would most likely do.

Journals are distributed to other universities mostly via swap; currency fluctuations and/or bank charges for currency exchanges are a common barrier (Smart and Murray 2014). It is often easier for local scholars to gain

127 As of 24 April 2020. Since 2015 when my observations started, both open access and SSH journals are increasing, see African Journals Online,

128 African Journals Online, Resources for Journals,

ajol/resources­for­journals, visited on 29 June 2020.

access to literature published in the ‘Global North’ than to publications from neighbouring African countries (Kell and Czerniewicz 2016; Harle 2010; Smart and Murray 2014).

So far, it has not been analysed if successful African journals also tend to be taken over by the major publishers from Europe or the USA, as continues to happen in the ‘Global North’. A quick search reveals that African jour­

nals actually do go down that road: searching the AjOL website with Google for only three different strings, namely ‘Taylor & Francis’ (the most ‘suc­

cessful term’), ‘Springer’ (a difficult term, because many authors have that name), and ‘Journal is published by’, checking the first 50 results each, re­

veal eight journals that are now hosted by a major publisher. Half of them are open access, but only one stores the most recent issue on AjOL as well.

In one case, African Journal of Urology, the new publisher Springer, after ten months, does not even refer to the 18 volumes of backfiles that are access­

ible on AjOL, 11 of them exclusively. Similarly, the Journal of Psychology in Africa on Taylor & Francis’ website also does not refer to the two backfile volumes that are exclusively on AjOL, to not even mention the print­only backfiles of both journals. The latter journal is an example of African jour­

nals that partner with NISc (National Inquiry Services Centre), a South Africa­based provider for bibliographic information and a publisher that distributes its current three databases, most notably Africa­Wide Informa­

tion,¹²⁹ through EBScO, and collaborates with Taylor & Francis and Sabinet to disseminate its journals.

In conclusion, while AjOL increases the visibility of African journals, and facilitates their operation, these examples evoke the impression that the platform also improves the marketability of African journals, and thereby attracts major commercial ‘Global North’ publishers to acquire and control

129 This huge compilation database does not appear to be a standard database that Eu­

ropean academic libraries subscribe to. I checked five random European academic and national libraries (no national African studies centres; database subscription lists easily re­

trievable) from the list of Libraries with Major Africana Collections in Europe & Australia, Columbia University Libraries,­libr aries/african_studies/biblio_info/library_catalogs/eulibs.html, visited on 30 Oct. 2019.

None of them subscribes to it.

them. With collective global distribution and progressive not­for­profit models, current developments in academic book publishing seem to in­

crease the odds of remaining under local control.

I dokument The Privilege to Select Global Research System, European Academic Library Collections, and Decolonisation Schmidt, Nora (sidor 195-200)