Access, Use, and Attitudes of Academics toward Electronic Journals: A Case Study of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife

Article excerpt

Introduction

Studies show that journals are the most valued information communication channel for researchers. Their production dates back to the seventeenth century, and their importance has not diminished. With the advent of the Internet and electronic publishing, they have become more easily accessible. Print books may be around for a long time, but print journals are rapidly being supplanted by e-journals. It is important to study the use of electronic journals, scholars' attitudes, and future patterns of use, for library development, and because of the central role journals play in scientific communication (Kortelainen, 2004).

Academics in developing countries are fast adapting to the Internet as a source of information for teaching and research. Some research reveals use of the Internet for things like email (Ojedokun and Owolabi, 2003; Badu and Markwei 2005). Many studies have also been conducted to determine use of e-journals and other e-resources. Manda (2005) studied the use of electronic resources in Tanzania by academics. He found that use was low, due to inadequate end-user training, slow connectivity, limited access to PCs, poor search skills, and budget cuts. Smith (2007) looked at South Africa, finding that lack of bandwidth was a major problem, and the range of electronic journals in the respondents' field of interest fairly limited.

Ehikhamenon (2003) states even though 77.5 percent of Nigerian scientists rated electronic journals as "important" or "very important," their rating was based on expectation rather than actual use. Gbaje (2007), writing on Nigerian academic libraries, found that only 20 percent of those surveyed provide access to electronic resources. Azubogu and Madu (2007) observe that academic staff of the Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria, have resorted to the use of computer and Internet technologies to search for information because the university library lacks funds to subscribe to scholarly and research journals.

These constraints and more have hindered libraries in developing countries from fully enjoying the benefits of the Internet and electronic publishing. Many academics in Africa rely on their university and research institute libraries to satisfy their information needs. The libraries also rely on government funding, which has been dwindling. The situation could have been more serious, but for some interventions from non-governmental organizations and agencies. These interventions include the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) initiative, through the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI); African Journals Online (AJOL) initiative; AGORA, JSTOR, Journal Donation Project (JDP), HINARI, and others, which provide access to electronic journals by academics in developing countries. The scholarly Journal Archive (JSTOR) is a non-profit organization with a dual mission to create and maintain a trusted archive of important scholarly journals and to provide access to these journals as widely as possible. The archive spans many disciplines. Teaching staff in developing countries have access to these journals if their university libraries are beneficiaries. (Ejimofo and Ohaji, 2008). It is an online initiative.

The Journal Donation Project (JDP) is another initiative. It builds archives of scholarly journals in developing countries. It began in 1990, and Nigeria amongst other countries is a beneficiary. It offers subscriptions to more than 2,000 journals from 238 publishers. The project sends donated journals from publishers to libraries, purchases journals for libraries at a discount (usually 50 percent) using grant funds, or passes on the discounts to libraries that can purchase journals through JDP. This initiative deals with print journals.

Background Information

Obafemi Awolowo University was founded in 1960. It was connected to the Internet in 1995, and since then has created Internet connections for all departments. …