(UNESCO / Japan Young Researchers' fellowships programme)

The role of open access journal systems in research capacity development: case of Kenya

Summary of research carried out: 
The role of open access journal systems in research capacity development: case of Kenya

The research focused on exploring possibilities of using new publishing technologies to enhance research capacity development through publishing and sharing of information related to research findings in the public sector, and in particular the university and research institutes. It attempted to determine the prospects for greater participation in the international network for the creation and distribution of knowledge by exploring the prospects and processes, issues and hopes involved in launching an online scholarly journal.

In particular, the research concerned itself with investigating the role of online journal publishing in research capacity development in African universities, with particular reference to Kenya. Specifically, the research project investigated whether the OJS, an open access publishing and management journal system developed by the University of British Columbia, Canada, could be used to boost research capacity through sharing of knowledge/information, local and international.

The study was guided by the following specific objectives : To establish from the perspective of the scholarly community - teaching staff, students, librarians and policymakersthe potential for electronic journals to contribute to both information exchange and research capacity development. To explore the technical and economic feasibility of supporting electronic journals that can contribute to knowledge circulation / sharing among scholars and other stakeholders. To find out whether such an electronic journal can facilitate local knowledge creation within a global exchange of knowledge, as well as foster networking among peers.

The hypothesis behind the research was that from a technical, economic, social, and intellectual perspective, new publishing technologies could provide a means of improving Kenya’s research capacity by contributing to local knowledge development, as well as a larger global exchange of knowledge. The expected outcome of the research project was : An informed analysis of the challenges, possibilities and obstacles to overcome in pursuing online scholarly publishing in African universities as a means of improving the universities’ research capacities and providing greater participation in global knowledge systems. This analysis would serve as a guide for establishing new online journals in different fields, as well as for building better publishing software. An informed and active body of scholarly researchers, actively participating in knowledge creation, sharing and dissemination, and professional debates / discussions in the relevant fields of knowledge. Improved networking among faculty, professionals and policymakers with a focus on scholarly and local works in education. Greater global visibility for African scholarly publishing, and particularly Kenyan knowledge products and scholarly contributions. It is hoped that the e-journal would give the stakeholders the means and voice to be heard.