• Table of contents

    • [+]Preliminaries (3)
    • [+]Introduction (4)
    • [+]Latin America (13)
    • [—]Sub-Saharan Africa (9)
    • [+]Arab World (11)
    • [+]Russia (11)
    • [+]India (11)
    • [+]China (9)
    • [+]Conclusions (6)
    • [+]Appendix (1)

Sub-Saharan Africa

Digital repositories

In addition to the commercial platforms, there are numerous digitization initiatives and open access publications to be found across the entire continent. Below we will present two noteworthy cases.

The publishing company Human Sciences Research Council Press disseminates material on social science research in electronic format – downloadable free of charge – and printed format – at very low cost. The company is run by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and deals with topics related to social development, poverty reduction, and public policy and planning, among others. According to its website, Human Sciences Research Council Press represents the first open access publications portal in South Africa.[1] Garry Rosenberg, the company’s publishing director from 2002 to 2009, underlines the importance of this modality:

There is ample evidence that open access titles get to more people, more quickly, than print-only publications. For example the HSRC Press distributes books in three regions comprising 11 countries, but has online readers in 184 countries. HRSC press titles are, on average, visited online 22.5 times more than the number of copies bought (…). Its spirit of being open is not merely an academic notion – it is part of a larger movement to create a public space that can carry forward the life and legacy of “print culture”. It is bent on increasing the democratic circulation of knowledge.[2]

African Journals Online (AJOL), for its part, brings together works by African researchers with the aim of ensuring their worldwide diffusion. A non-profit organization based in Grahamstown, South Africa, it has been disseminating the content of around 400 academic journals from 29 African countries since 1998, with the sponsorship of the Ford Foundation. All the digital tools used by AJOL are open source. As stated on the institution’s portal:

At the same time as academic resources from the developed global North are made available to Africa, there needs to be corresponding online availability of information from Africa. Important areas of research in Africa are not necessarily covered by publications from the developed world. African countries need to collectively play a greater role in the global online scholarly environment. African researchers also need access to their own continent’s scholarly publications. Mainly due to difficulties accessing them, African-produced research papers have been under-utilized, under-valued and under-cited in the international and African research arenas. The Internet is a good way to change this, but many hundreds of worthy, peer-reviewed scholarly journals publishing from Africa cannot host their content online in isolation because of resource limitations and the digital divide. Valuable information has not reached the people who need it. AJOL is working to change this.

  1. Cf. “FAQ”, HSRC Press.
  2. Cf. Rosenberg, Garry: “Broadening the exchange of knowledge”, Mail & Guardian Online, 13th June, 2008.

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