The purpose of this paper is to explore issues around access and use of subscription electronic journals by African researchers and seeks to bring to the fore the issues…
The purpose of this paper is to explore issues around access and use of subscription electronic journals by African researchers and seeks to bring to the fore the issues academics and researchers face in accessing electronic databases.
Donor-funded electronic resources have greatly improved access to essential scientific scholarly information by researchers in developing countries. Yet in Sub-Saharan Africa, researchers and libraries still complain about lack of access to scientific information, and libraries are reported to be struggling to maintain up-to-date scientific information resources. An online survey of academics at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe was carried out.
Results indicated that academics rely on approaches other than library facilities to locate electronic information. Google was the most common approach used in locating subscription electronic journals. Furthermore, there was a need for increased awareness of subscription and donated resources. Programmes such as Research4Life, journal schemes by Education Information for Libraries and the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications have made an impact on academics’ access to electronic journals. The study established that there was no direct link between access to electronic journals and increased publications.
Work of this kind has not been done in Africa before. The exploration of the complexities inherent in providing access to electronic journals in a developing country presents an opportunity for both librarians and developmental partners to reflect on the challenges as well as the opportunities that exist in current electronic journal access schemes.