AJIC Issue 10, 2009/2010

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This edition of The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC) addresses an aspect of 'information society' discourse that has taken shape in the world of universities, research, publishing and creative works. Given the potential offered by the Internet to leapfrog the divides that currently inhibit the reach and impact of African research, this thematic edition explores an African perspective on scholarly communications in the 21st century. In a continent increasingly linked through the Internet and through telecommunications infrastructure, the flow of information and knowledge across national boundaries presents an opportunity to universities, academics, students and researchers to increase the volume, quality and relevance of their knowledge outputs. However, this opportunity may remain 'theoretical' and beyond the reach of many universities in the region, based on a range of challenges in a number of spheres. These challenges include using Internet-based journal publishing platforms and publishing under Open Access licences such as Creative Commons.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 10
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    Book Reviews Compilation: Open Access Books on Open Scholarly Communications
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2010-02-15) Rens, Andrew; Hodgkinson-Williams, Cheryl; Williams, Kevin; Gray, Eve
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    Legislative Review: Review of IPR Act and Regulations: Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act, No 51 of 2008, Republic of South Africa
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2010-02-15) Chetty, Prialoshni
    South Africa’s Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act, Act No 51 of 2008 (the IPR Act) was passed on 22 December 2008. The Act’s main object is to ‘make provision that intellectual property emanating from publicly financed research and development is identified, protected, utilised and commercialised for the benefit of the people of the Republic’ (IPR Act, 2008: s. 2(1)). The Minister of Science and Technology published corresponding draft regulations (the IPR Regulations) for comment on 9 April 2009 (DST, 2009b).1 To date, the legislation and its attendant draft regulations have been dogged by criticism from lawyers, academics and commentators, who have, inter alia, labelled the IPR Act ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘unworkable’ (Rens, 2009) and queried whether the IPR Regulations are a ‘death knell for open science in South Africa’ (Gray, 2009). This review explores critical issues that recipients of public finance for research and development, including academics, researchers and universities, are confronted with, arising from the IPR Act. The issue is raised regarding the compatibility of the IPR Act and draft regulations with South Africa’s position as a developing country. The review argues that, while the Act has many flaws and may require review, there is an opportunity for the regulations to address some of the identified weaknesses.
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    Case Notes: Open Access Advocacy Workshop: Maximising Research Quality and Impact
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2010-02-15) Kuchma, Iryna; Wella, Kondwani
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    Institutional Review: Open Access and Open Knowledge Production Processes: Lessons from CODESRIA
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2010-02-15) Nyamnjoh, Francis
    It is common in discussions of open access to limit the issue to publications and dissemination. This conflates accessibility with recognition and representation, and supposes that competing and conflicting knowledge systems and ideas would be equally available and affordable if room were created for multiple channels of accessibility. Such enthusiasm and euphoria, while understandable, do not adequately account for the prevalent power relations that structure knowledge production into interconnecting hierarchies at local and global levels. CODESRIA has some lessons to draw on from its experience of the past 37 years – lessons about the need to privilege and prioritise recognition and representation of the perspectives, epistemologies, and contextual and methodological diversity that inform knowledge production globally and locally; and lessons about the need to widen our understanding and discussion of ‘open access’ to go beyond just enabling access to knowledge and research results through a multiplicity of dissemination possibilities. It is important to discuss opening access up to different races, places, spaces, cultures, classes, generations, disciplines and fields of study. This review presents CODESRIA, and its ever-evolving publications and dissemination policy, as a possible model to inform and inspire institutions interested in a comprehensive idea of open access in an interconnected world of local and global hierarchies, where producing and consuming difference is part and parcel of everyday life.
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    'Dazzling Technologies': Addressing the Digital Divide in the Southern African Universities
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2010-02-15) Kotecha, Piyushi
    The ‘digital divide’ is both an infrastructural reality and a metaphor for Africa’s position in the global economy. We live in an era that defines itself by the extent to which it interacts, creates and shares knowledge globally, using the network of advanced telecommunications, the Internet. Southern African countries, their universities and research communities, are recognising that focusing purely on basic network infrastructure is inadequate to the needs of scholarly research and higher education in the 21st century. Southern African universities must acquire the means to participate effectively in global knowledge production. In particular, they must adopt and use advanced telecommunications infrastructure in the form of National Research and Education Networks or NRENs and a regional REN to connect students and researchers across national borders. Yet the means to share knowledge is not sufficient to bring about a healthy knowledge economy. A paradigm shift has to be made from a purely technological view of the issues, to a full recognition of the interplay between technological infrastructure and the developmental and knowledge purposes to which it is put. This article provides an overview of the emerging NREN landscape, noting developments under way that are intended to promote and facilitate excellence in scientific networking in the region. It discusses the constraints and enabling conditions for overcoming the digital divide in the Southern African higher education context. Finally, it proposes a rudimentary performance indicator framework for assessing progress.
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    Copyright and Education in Africa: Lessons on African Copyright and Access to Knowledge
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2010-02-15) Schonwetter, Tobias; De Beer, Jeremy; Kawooya, Dick; Prabhala, Achal
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    Editors' Comment
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2010-02-15) Abrahams, Lucienne; Gray, Eve
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    Research Productivity-Visibility-Accessibility and Scholarly Communication in Southern African Universities
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2010-02-15) Abrahams, Lucienne; Burke, Mark; Mouton, Johann
    The project for the revitalisation of Southern Africa’s higher education sector is dependent on, among other things, the capacity of the region’s universities to produce research, to communicate that research to a broad public audience and to use the research output in the process of educating future generations of graduates. Given this context, research output in the great majority of Southern African universities is barely visible. While the introduction of new digital media may offer greater accessibility and expanded opportunities for the visibility of scholarly communication, this may be insufficient to meet the needs of the many scholars and other actors who seek to build on existing bodies of knowledge, whether to advance society or in order to create knowledge for its own sake. This article reports the findings of two 2008 studies – The state of public science in the SADC region and Opening access to knowledge in Southern African universities. Working within a frame which understands knowledge produced in universities as a public good, this article examines the issues at play in terms of the productivity-visibilityaccessibility of scholarly communications in regional higher education. The conclusion discusses a possible approach to improve such productivity-visibility-accessibility, through the adoption of a strategic vision of open access to knowledge and through consideration of two breakthroughs pertinent to achieving a vision of revitalised higher education in the region.
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    Access to Africa’s Knowledge: Publishing Development Research and Measuring Value
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2010-02-15) Gray, Eve
    This paper reviews, critically, the discourse of research publication policy and the directives of the regional and global organisations that advise African countries with respect to their relevance to African scholarly communication. What emerges is a readiness to use the concepts and language of the public good, making claims for the power of technology to resolve issues of African development. However, when it comes to implementing scholarly publication policies, this vision of technological power and development-focused scientific output is undermined by a reversion to a conservative research culture that relies on competitive systems for valuing and accrediting scholarship, predicated upon the systems and values managed by powerful global commercial publishing consortia. The result is that the policies put in place to advance African research effectively act as an impediment to ambitions for a revival of a form of scholarship that could drive continental growth. While open access publishing models offer solutions to the marginalisation of African research, the paper argues that what is also needed is a re-evaluation of the values that underpin the recognition of scholarly publishing, to better align with the continent’s articulated research goals.