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African Scholarly Journals: Sustainable Electronic Publishing and Indexing of African Journals Through International Cooperation   printer-friendly-version
Program: Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access
Award Number: P337A990013
Grant Period: 10/01/1999 - 09/30/2004
World Area: Africa
1999:  $100,000
2000:  $100,000
2001:  $135,000
Total:  $335,000
Institution: Michigan State University
Project Director: David Wiley
100 International Center
East Lansing, Michigan 48824
Tel: 5173531700
Fax: 5174321209
Email: wiley@pilot.msu.edu
In collaboration with the African Studies Association (ASA), the Michigan State University (MSU) African Studies Center, MSU Libraries, the MSU Press, and MSU MATRIX (with H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Online) propose a major project of collaboration between U.S. and African scholars and librarians to publish journals online from Africa. With the co-sponsorship of the African Studies Association and guided by an International Advisory Committee drawn from the scholarly and library communities in Africa and the U.S., the project will increase broad academic, policy-maker, and other user access to African scholarly journals and the research they contain that now are not widely available in the U.S., across the globe, and even in Africa.

The project is inviting co-sponsorship by the Association of African Universities (AAU), the African Academy of Science (AAS), and the Council for the Development of Economic and Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA).

The project aims to design an economically sustainable cost-recovery system that provides fair recompense to African publishers and access to U.S. scholars.

This project will undertake the following major activities:

Electronic publication of African journals

On a pilot basis, the project will provide global access to 10 African scholarly journals (adding additional titles to a total of 20 if the budget allows). The journals will be selected initially from the social sciences, humanities, and international development fields. They will be published in full-text on the worldwide web and in CD-ROM format, to be disseminated under the imprimatur of the invited participating collaborators - the African Studies Association, the Association of African Universities, CODESRIA, the African Academy of Science - and by the Michigan State University Press;

The project will negotiate copyright regimes and a reasonable cost recovery system that is shared between the original African publishers and the project web publishers so as to create an economically sustainable and continuing electronic distribution system;

Expanding bibliographical indexing of African journal articles

The project will work to insert this African scholarship into the relevant international bibliographical databases;

The team will develop a plan for accessing of the corpus of African journal scholarship by assessing their availability in the U.S. and developing a proposal for a national plan for distributed acquisition of that African journal literature that is not now widely available in the U.S., specifying what electronic publishing is needed for widened access.

This project will implement five goals of the new Title VI Program for Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access, namely to:

(1) facilitate access to or preserve foreign information resources in print or electronic forms;
(2) develop new means of immediate, full-text document delivery for information and scholarship from abroad;
(3) support collaborative projects of indexing, cataloging, and other means of bibliographic access for scholars to important research materials published or distributed outside the United States;
(4) promote collaborative technology-based projects in foreign languages, area studies, and international studies among grant recipients under this title; and,
(5) develop new means of shared electronic access to international data;

This program will implement recommendations of the national report of the Association of Research Libraries and the Association of American Universities for increased access by U.S. universities and libraries to library and research materials abroad, including from Africa.

There are many and diverse U.S. audiences with an interest in obtaining access to this journal literature from Africa, including government researchers and development specialists, classical area studies specialists, scholars studying comparative global issues, teachers seeking data and analysis on particular countries and issues, and a surprisingly burgeoning body of U.S. citizens interested in Africa. An electronic publishing project to meet the needs of these important U.S. constituencies will succeed only if it is sensitive to the concerns and interests of African publishers and scholars.

A recent effort to increase U.S. scholarly and library access to African theses and dissertations revealed the suspicions and resistance that many African librarians and administrators have concerning freely releasing materials not available in libraries in the North. Africans often have viewed as self-serving the call for open access to the products of African research by scholars from North America and Europe who already have favored access to published journals, research funding, and publishing outlets for their research findings. In a period when the African universities and libraries are under severe financial constraint and some institutions are in crisis, Africans understandably consider very seriously the possibility of cost-recovery from wealthy users in the North.

Therefore, we believe that this project of providing Internet access to African journals will require a foundation of trust between the African publishers and the U.S. web-publishers and a serious effort of careful consultation with African libraries and universities with fair negotiation on the issues of copyright and economic rights. A fair cost-recovery system will be required to make web publishing of African journals sustainable. We will seek to identify the common ground between the interests of African publishers and of U.S. users to obtain access to these scholarly works at a reasonable and fair price.

Through this plan, the African journal scholarship can be more efficiently distributed within the scholarly community, priced differentially to provide a benefit for African users, and develop a more sustainable system by producing a revenue stream from electronic journal publication that makes continued publication possible in Africa and through the electronic outlets.

In undertaking this effort, we will benefit from the many models being tried and tested in the young and fast-developing field of e- publishing, particularly by those that are undertaking publication of scholarly journals from the South. These organizations include the Journal Storage Project (JSTOR) funded by the Mellon Foundation, the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications, and the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, among others described in the proposal.

The faculty of the MSU African Studies Center have a long history of cooperation with African universities and with the scholarly organizations that we invite to co-sponsor this project. The leadership of this project at Michigan State University combines five co-directors with broad experience in scholarly publishing, libraries and their technologies, electronic networks, and scholarship concerning Africa.

The project is designed to develop a self-financing mechanism that will allow for non-profit sustainable online publishing of Africana journals that will become available to U.S. users and also worldwide. MSU is committed to continuing this project beyond the three-year limit of federal funding under this program by exceeding the 33% match required by the statute, and the actual match, including personnel and facilities not costed for this grant but required by the project.
Discipline: Subjects:
Technology management