International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

Newsletter
No. 12 May 1999

In this issue:

Newsletter Editors: Ard Jongsma Neil Pakenham-Walsh (INASP-Health section)

Contributors to this issue: Yahia Bakelli, Birgitta Bergdahl, Ana María Cetto, Andrew Chetley, Christopher Coyer, Janet Hussein, Musila Musembi, Erik Nordberg, Diana Rosenberg, Liz Woolley, Hans Zell.

Editorial address:
INASP

Scientific Communication and Publishing in the Information Age

From 10 to 12 May, INASP, together with the British Council, organised a workshop on scientific communication and publishing in the information age. The workshop, which brought together professionals from around the globe, provided a forum for the discussion of new models of scientific publishing and communication in the age of digital data processing. It aimed, amongst other things, at sharing of experiences with mechanisms that promote the more equitable flow of scientific knowledge and finding ways to achieve this through partnerships, sponsorships and investment.

This issue of the Newsletter builds on the same topic. Included are summaries of two articles based on papers presented at the workshop, one from Zimbabwe and one from Algeria.

The INASP activities covered include a new programme which is to help African university library staff acquire Internet skills and an introduction to the Links & Resources pages on the INASP website.

One of the articles on the INASP-Health pages covers the new CD-ROMs which have recently appeared in the Wellcome Foundations Topics in International Health series.

Specific information on the INASP/British Council workshop can be found on the part of INASP's website which covers publishing support initiatives: http://www.inasp.info/psi/

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About INASP

INASP is a co-operative network of partners aiming to improve world-wide access to science information. It has three immediate objectives:

-- to map, support and strengthen existing activities promoting access to and dissemination of scientific and scholarly information;

- to identify, encourage and support new initiatives that will increase local publication and general access to high quality scientific and scholarly materials;

- to promote in-country capacity building in information production, organization, access and dissemination.

INASP is a programme of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

Chairman: K-I. Hillerud
Director: Carol Priestley

Address:

INASP

Email:

Oxford office:
27 Park End Street
Oxford OX1 1HU UK

Travelling training

University-based workshops throughout Africa for librarians on 'Using the Internet'

Within a relatively short period of time, the Internet has grown to the point where it is now possible to access information resources on almost every conceivable subject. Many organisations are making increased use of it as a primary means of disseminating information. Electronic journal publishing is expanding. The Internet forms a 'library' in electronic format. For Africa, it offers an opportunity to save time and money in information acquisition. It also offers a means to promote local information to a wider audience.

However, finding good and relevant information on the Internet is not easy. The World-wide Web contains a vast amount of information, but this is neither categorised nor scrutinised. Many academics do not have the time or expertise to sift the Internet for those sources that could support their work.

There is a need for university librarians to extend their traditional role as 'information gatekeeper' to the Internet but in order to do this effectively they must be aware of the potential and limitations of the Internet as an information source. They must be able to judge when an electronic source is more relevant and cost-effective than a printed source. They need to be able to assist library users to discover high quality information through the Internet in a quick and effective way.

The need for training …

Unfortunately the introduction of the Internet in Africa has not generally been accompanied with any in-depth training on its use. Unless librarians receive this training, there is a danger that the potential of the Internet for information transfer will remain insufficiently exploited and that it will not become integrated with more traditional print-based library services.

The need for training in Internet usage has been repeatedly highlighted by African librarians. It was raised at the Conference on the Electronic Library, held in Lund (Sweden) in June 1998 and subsequently by those attending the Standing Conference of National and University Librarians in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (SCANUL-ECS) in July in Kenya.

… in-country training

Continuing education for African university librarians has, in the past, usually been carried out through regional conferences, seminars or workshops, to which one or two librarians from each university library in the region had been invited. One drawback of this methodology is that it has appeared to be very difficult for the knowledge and skills gained to be implemented. In Lund, it was concluded that those attending such workshops or seminars are usually senior librarians, who are not necessarily trainers and who are often over-burdened with other responsibilities, giving them little time to share their experiences.

... local facilitators

Participants agreed unanimously that in-country workshops, predominantly attended by librarians from one university, would stand a better chance of ensuring implementation of the knowledge and skills gained. Many librarians within one library or system would receive training and this, coupled with a sharing of experiences both during and in the months after the workshop, would be conducive to implementation.

At the same time, it was accepted that running individual in-country workshops of a very similar content in a number of African university libraries, each with their own expert facilitator, would entail needless duplication and expense. Librarians therefore favoured the idea of a 'travelling' workshop; an external expert would design and teach the first workshop together with a local librarian counterpart and afterwards would prepare a set of course materials. Also attending the first workshop would be a training counterpart from the university library which had agreed to host the next workshop. This would then be run jointly by the training officer from the first university and the training officer of the next host university, using the original course materials. This process would then be repeated until all university libraries wanting to host a workshop had been covered.

Elements of the workshop programme

Following up on the above recommendations, INASP now prepares to hold workshops at eight of the main universities in anglophone Africa which have recently gained access to the Internet. The first workshop will be at the University of Dar es Salaam Library in summer 1999. The last one should be completed in 2001. The first workshop and course materials will be prepared in close collaboration with the Institute of Learning and Research Technology of the University of Bristol. Local counterpart facilitators will be recruited >from within a host library. These will attend the previous workshop as a participant, co-teach the workshop taking place in their own library, and act as lead facilitator in the next workshop in the series. One responsibility of the local counterpart will be to ensure that the training takes into account local information needs and the limitations of the local IT infrastructure.

Provisions have been made within the budget for the recruitment of another external consultant during the workshop programme, just in case one of those identified to become a lead facilitator is unable to undertake the assignment.

Major Internet topics will be covered, but emphasis will be on finding and using the information resources offered via the networks, in particular the World Wide Web (WWW), and integrating these with traditional library services. Workshops will follow an interactive approach, engaging participants in the learning process through practical exercises, demonstrations and group work. If possible workshops should produce a concrete end product which can then be developed within the library. Example of this could be a training course for library users or an information gateway on the host university's country.

Publication

After the first workshop, a set of course materials will be published for use at future workshops. These are intended to be given to each participant and to support and guide the instruction given by facilitators. The course materials will be maintained in electronic format, so that changes can be made in the course of the workshop programme.

The workshop programme will be managed by INASP, as part of its support programme to university libraries in Africa.

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Science Journals In Zimbabwe

Will electronic publishing improve their long-term viability?

At the INASP/ICSU/British Council Workshop on scientific communication, held in Oxford in May this year, Janet Hussein, Senior Editor of Zimbabwe Science News and Secretary of the Zimbabwe Scientific Association (ZSA) presented a paper outlining the ways in which ZSA is combating the problems faced by African science publishers. Electronic media now play a central role in the ZSA's development strategy. This article focuses on the part of Ms Hussein's paper which relates to electronic publishing.

As in many developing countries, scientific publishers in Zimbabwe are facing increasing problems producing their journals. Dwindling financial backing from government and corporate sponsors, rocketing printing and distribution costs and increasing competition from new journals make it increasingly hard to make ends meet. The ZSA is using various strategies to tackle these problems, including use of advertisements, sponsored theme issues, reduction of printing costs, tight control on subscriptions and the use of electronic dissemination.

Electronic publishing allows for greatly reduced production and distribution costs and fast output of journals. The ZSA first ventured into electronic publishing about 3 years ago following advice from Prof Ekwamu, editor of the African Crop Science Journal. ZSA approached the Electronic Publishing Trust for development (EPT) who helped make the two journals available online through the Bioline system. A 1997 grant from Southern African Book Development Trust offered the possibility of purchasing a scanner, which allowed ZSA to start electro-nically storing and transmitting graphics.

There are many advantages to being online, the most obvious of which are:

­ Electronic media hold a promise of lower production costs compared to those of printing and distributing hard copies of journals. ­ The production/distribution time span can be greatly reduced with electronic publishing, which allows for the journals to be accessed immediately upon publication. ­ The Internet offers increased visibility. Bioline's wide user-base, for example, is clearly beneficial to our two journals. Better exposure obviously means increased scrutiny, but also more submissions from authors. ­ Internet users can buy reprints of journal papers through Bioline. This offers a possible source of income (in hard currency!) ­ Hypertext links add immense value to published papers. ­ We have found that authors are more willing to write papers and publish in our journals as they feel they are getting better exposure.

Internet connectivity

However, many Zimbabweans interested in science cannot afford access to the Internet or live in rural areas that do not have Internet facilities. Currently, purchasing a modem costs US $40 - 120 while initial link up with an ISP costs around US $25. However, the main costs probably come through day to day access to the various ISPs. To allow some comparison to local salaries, a Zimbabwean university lecturer takes home about US $250 per month. Subscribing to a 25 hour Internet service, would cost about ten per cent of his income ! In addition the user would be paying local phone call rates with 25 hours a month adding up to about US $6.

The future

Given the relatively high costs of access to the Internet and its current limited availability in Zimbabwe, our journals will, for the time being, continue to be distributed both in hard copy and electronically. As Internet facilities become more widely available, and possibly cheaper through competition, more use could perhaps be made of electronic publishing. Internet access should be encouraged through institutions (such as libraries and schools) where the high costs could be shared by larger numbers of users rather than by private subscribers. Further ahead, we would like to see a situation where sales of electronic material could help to subsidise more hard copies, which we could then send to readers/institutions that are unable to afford subscriptions. Alternatively, we would like to make electronic access free to certain deserving but poorly funded institutions.

Our editorial team needs to improve its electronic publishing skills through proper training in the production of HTML files, graphic files, web pages and in electronic marketing of our journals. We also need to think about future electronic storage and archiving of our journals. It is still unclear how long the 'shelf life' of floppy and hard-disks, and CD-ROMS is. Is any new software we use going to be fully compatible with old software? How do we best store our content lists and databases?

In the long term, electronic publishing should increase the viability of our journals, not only financially but also through improved visibility and quality. However, more effort needs to be put into increasing the availability of electronic publications to Zimbabweans, primarily through multi-user access at libraries, colleges, universities and schools. Efforts should be made to encourage national and regional collaboration in electronic publishing, such as the African Journals OnLine (AJOL) programme.

Janet Hussein can be contacted at the ZSA: P O Box CY 124 Causeway, Harare Zimbabwe Email:


Preservation in Africa

Many organisations are working hard at improving the availability of scientific publications. But what if the publications are not preserved or housed under the right conditions ? Will they then be available, ask Birgitta Bergdahl and Musila Musembi.

Conservation is an area which is often neglected by organisations and individuals involved in promoting availability and access to library and archival materials, including scientific documents. For this reason, the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), ICA and UNESCO have, in the past few years, intensified their efforts to preserve publications and documents worldwide. Readers of this article will know that climatic conditions in large parts of Africa are not conducive to long term preservation of books and other paper documents. There has, therefore, been an urgent need to mobilise resources to enable librarians and archivists to deal with this problem.

Together, IFLA, ICA and UNESCO organised a landmark Pan African Conference on Preservation and Conservation of Library and Archival Materials in Nairobi, Kenya in 1993. The Conference was largely funded by the Advancement of Librarianship in the Third World (ALP), but also received financial support from other international organisations such as UNESCO, BIEF, the World Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, etc. Representatives from 24 African countries participated in the conference.

Three of the most important resolutions from that Conference were:

- that IFLA's African Regional Standing Committee should co-opt, in co-operation with ICA's African regional branches, a standing committee to monitor and co-ordinate the implementation of the resolutions of the Conference; - that, recognising the immense benefits which can be obtained through a co-operative approach to preservation and conservation issues, the Conference recommended African librarians and archivists to join hands and work together at national and regional levels; and; - that, aware of the need for preservation policies for library and archival materials, the Conference strongly recommended the establishment in each country of a committee to develop a national preservation policy for implementation by its government.

To a large extent, the implementation of the resolutions of the Conference, including the three mentioned above, depended on the establishment of a secretariat as a first step. The main objective of the secretariat was to co-ordinate preservation activities in Africa. But without sufficient funding for such a secretariat, it would have been impossible to proceed. It was therefore a great relief to IFLA and ICA when Danida, through ALP, provided the necessary funds for the Joint IFLA/ICA Committee on Preservation in Africa (JICPA) Committee to establish an office in Nairobi.

JICPA

JICPA was inaugurated in Dakar, Senegal in February 1996. Soon after its formation, JICPA embarked on a major publicity campaign to inform about its objectives and urged library and archival institutions in Africa to launch awareness-raising activities in their respective countries. As a result of JICPA efforts, National Preservation Committees are now at various levels of formation and operation in the following twelve countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Seychelles, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Mali, Zimbabwe, Chad and Malawi. The Committees are obviously to develop into effective institutions and not just remain paper bodies.

Workshops on Preservation and Conservation

JICPA plans to investigate the training needs for preservation personnel in African libraries and archives. Some general surveys have already been carried out by UNESCO, IFLA and ICA. Dr. Bunmi Alegbeleye from Nigeria has been appointed to perform this task, with Abberrazaq Alli from Morocco helping to analyse the situation in the francophone countries. A training programme was developed and initiated to meet this need. This is a relatively slow and expensive exercise. JICPA has received money from BIEF for a Workshop for francophone African countries, which was held in Dakar, Senegal in April 1997. The BIEF-funded Workshop was attended by ten French-speaking archivists and librarians. Delegates received practical and general training, taking into account the specific climatic and economic needs of their regions. The training was based on concrete exercises and included much practical advice. Antoine Tendeng from EBAD (School for librarians, archivists, information scientists in Dakar) and Bunmi Alegbeleye (from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria) were responsible for the teaching. The main problem was that the five days were considered too short by participants.

The next workshop took place in Durban, South Africa, in April 1998 and was aimed at the anglophone countries. The participants were divided into three groups, with five participants in each group, and one teacher for each group . Also this workshop was considered much too short by the participants. They also requested even more practical training.

At the end of May a workshop took place in Kairouan, for Arabic speaking participants. There were eight participants from Mauretania in the West to Egypt in the East. It was very practically oriented and lasted for ten days.

The plan now is to add another workshop for anglophone countries because of the large number of countries involved. UNESCO has promised to fund one of these. The next one will take place in Zimbabwe, in October 1998, at the National Archives in Harare. The last one will target the lusophone countries. It will take place in Praia, Cap Verde, later in 1999 and will also be funded by UNESCO. It is important to note that participants at these workshops are expected to go back to their countries and pass on their newly acquired knowledge.

JICPA aims to make relevant and current literature on the subject of conservation available to libraries and archival institutions in Africa. A survey of available literature on the subject is under preparation and an exercise to make these available will follow. Equally significantly, attempts will be made to assess the existing preservation and conservation facilities and compile a register of experts in Africa.

Expert Meeting of Educators

Ideally, trained librarians and archivists should be fully knowledgeable in matters related to preservation by the time they take their degrees. It is for this reason that an expert meeting of educators in library and archives schools was held in Nairobi, Kenya in March, 1998. A model curriculum has already been printed in French and English, and will be translated into Arabic and Portuguese too. ALP receives money from Danida for printed publications and translations.

JICPA wishes to take this opportunity to appeal to African librarians and archivists to support this important initiative and demonstrate, in practical terms, their support to this cause. We are therefore appealing to all African librarians and archivists to strongly support the formation and sustenance of National Preservation Committees in their countries and in this way play their part in safeguarding the African component of the 'Memory of the World'. If African librarians themselves fail to show commitment to this cause, who will do so on their behalf?

Birgitta Bergdahl is IFLA/ALP Core Programme Director Email: birgitta.bergdahl@ub.uu.se

Musila Musembi is Secretary of JICPA

 

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Information for frontline healthcare workers

Building a self-learning culture is essential, says Erik Nordberg of the African Medical and Research Foundation.

Primary healthcare providers in rural Africa may have the most demanding healthcare job anywhere. The range and severity of the challenges are extreme, the basic training of most staff is inadequate, refresher training is hard to get, and resources are scarce. Up-to-date books and journals are hardly ever seen - they are expensive and unaffordable to most government-owned health facilities, as well as many NGOs. And that much-lauded CD-ROM-equipped computer may be available in the capital city, but is rarely seen at district level.

One effect of the resource constraints is a reorientation of the training methods, for example in the area of continuing training. There is a need for more self-study with the help of borrowed or owned health learning materials (HLM), more use of libraries, and more distance learning with locally and regionally produced HLM. There is relatively less need for formal courses, workshops and conferences.

What are the main problems?

The challenges can be described as follows:

* Lack of commitment to self-learning among healthcare workers. This is associated with poorly developed reading habits and lack of pressure from supervisors and clients to remain up-to-date; * Slow uptake of new policies, methods and techniques; * Poor communication to and from frontline staff; * Very limited resources at all facilities for acquisition of HLM; * Lack of access to information about materials available from publishers globally; * Less support than during the 1970s and 1980s from donors for improving regional and local production and dissemination of knowledge.

What can we do?

Remuneration and evaluation systems can be modified to stimulate good job performance, thereby encouraging self-study and increasing demand for quality information and training.

It is also possible, through technical supervision, to stimulate use of different information sources. Training institutions can initiate literature reviews, manual searches, journal clubs, problem-based presentations and case studies in an effort to change students' practices. Some of these activities will lead, in due course, to publication of case studies, survey findings and project evaluations.

Communication with field staff in remote areas can be improved, despite resource constraints, with more use of low-cost public transport and development of electronic means of communication such as two-way radio, satellite telephone and e-mail. Computer use is expanding at national level and in the private sector while progress is slow in districts and subdistricts. This will change (though probably only slowly) the way resources are distributed.

Procurement of HLM such as books and subscribed journals is rare both at government and NGO facilities, and at training schools. The purchasing power of mid-level and low-level staff is poor, and they prioritise more immediate needs. Even where resources exist, libraries have difficulties to select relevant materials in the absence of publishers' catalogues and websites, journals or newsletters with book reviews, or well-informed advisors. Possible options include: send letters of request to selected publishers in Europe and America; obtain photocopies of relevant book reviews; check newsletters for information; travel to main libraries; and correspond with contacts in the North. Unfortunately, in many parts of Africa, many of these options are not practicable.

Resources for local publishing and dissemination are scarce. Books run out of print, revisions cannot be made as often as they should, and short print runs make the cost per printed copy high. So, we have to cut costs, improve promotion and dissemination at low cost and seek external assistance until things become sustainable with resources within the region. Building a self-learning and reading culture is an important first step, and performance review systems rewarding self-improvement efforts are important.

AMREF and its role

AMREF publishes a wide range of health learning materials for frontline staff in sub-Saharan Africa, such as clinical officers, nurses, public health officers, lab technicians and others working at district hospitals, health centres, dispensaries and mission clinics. Our intention is to continue this work and to update and disseminate more effectively than in the past.

HLM development, production and distribution is a high priority for AMREF. Our products have a good reputation for relevance, quality and price, but promotion of the products needs to be improved. We intend to maintain the capability to produce relevant HLM for mid-level staff in the region. We welcome collaboration with other organisations that have similar goals.

Conclusions

Relevant and up-to-date health information must be made available at modest cost to training facilities and to frontline health workers in sub-Saharan Africa. This should be sustained with local resources, but there is a development and early maintenance phase which is undermined by the current economic stagnation in the region. This would benefit from temporary external support.

Such support would be best directed to:

(1) support regional and local dissemination of health-related information to frontline health workers;

(2) expand IT applications at libraries and other resource centres at national and district levels;

(3) support local and regional low-cost HLM publishing.


Erik Nordberg Medical Director AMREF P.O. Box 30125, Nairobi Kenya E-mail: nordberg@AfricaOnline.co.ke


More Topics in International Health

Provide accurate and accessible information to support health programmes worldwide, say Christopher Coyer and Liz Woolley.

Many readers of the INASP Newsletter will already be aware of the Topics in International Health (TIH) series of CD-ROMs, which were published last year by the Wellcome Trust. The first four disks were launched at the Trust in April 1998 (malaria, STDs, trachoma and sickle cell disease) and were followed by four more titles in December. The series has proved to be a major success, reaching some 1500 users in 69 countries around the world in just nine months. The most recently published disks cover leprosy, tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases and schistosomiasis. The disks are aimed at healthcare professionals and students in both the developed and developing world, but it is distribution into the poorer regions that is of most importance to the Wellcome Trust. In this way, we are able to provide accurate and accessible health information to support coordinated health improvement programmes.

The Wellcome Trust chose CAB International (CABI) to be their publishing partner and distributor for the TIH series. CABI is a not-for-profit intergovernmental organisation which is owned and governed by its 40 member countries, the majority of which are in the developing world. It is both a scientific research organisation and a scientific publisher and, like the Wellcome Trust, has a mission to spread scientific knowledge in developing countries. CABI has a special Information for Development (IFD) programme whose aim is to make health and agricultural information more readily accessible to users in the South, for example by obtaining sponsorship from a variety of donors to supply information resources, computer hardware, and training. Since the launch of the TIH series, staff from CABI's IFD programme have been actively making contact with a broad range of donor and partner organisations worldwide, in order to expand the use of the disks in developing countries. Potential partners include NGOs, professional associations, universities and teaching hospitals, research institutes and government agencies. Potential sponsors are bilateral and multilateral donors, government departments, foundations and the private sector.

Recent success stories include the adoption of the trachoma disk as a programme resource by the International Trachoma Initiative, which is jointly funded by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and Pfizer Inc. In addition, a total of 125 copies of the leprosy and tuberculosis disks have been bought by Netherlands Leprosy Relief for distribution to their project managers in the field. An initial 50 CDs (malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and diarrhoeal diseases) have been procured by the JHPIEGO Corporation, a non-profit training organisation affiliated with Johns Hopkins University and funded by USAID. These are for use by their Learning Centres in Nepal, Bolivia, Indonesia and Haiti, along with JHPIEGO's own reproductive health training materials. The Topics in International Health series continues to be developed, with three more titles in preparation for publication in November 1999. These new disks will cover HIV/AIDS, nutrition and leishmaniasis.

The Wellcome Trust and CABI are keen to expand the sponsored distribution of the TIH series in developing countries and any readers with views or ideas on this subject are asked to contact the authors:

Christopher Coyer Head: Tropical Medicine Resource The


Liz Woolley, CAB International E-mail:

About INASP-Health INASP-Health is a co-operative network created by health information providers, for health information providers (HIPs). Its goal is to facilitate co-operation across the health information community towards universal access to reliable information for healthcare workers in developing and transitional countries.

The network currently involves more than 500 participants, North and South, representing non-governmental organisations, international agencies, library services, publishers (print and electronic), and others. Visit our web-site at: www.inasp.info/ for further information about our range of services and activities.

We welcome all those who are willing to share their experience and expertise with others to improve access to reliable information. Participation is free of charge and without obligation. Please write to:

WWW: www.inasp.info/

We are grateful to the following organisations for their support:
British Medical Association, Danida (Denmark), Department for International Development (UK), ICSU-Press and the Reuter Foundation.
INASP-Health Update

Advisory and liaison service

We now have links with more than 600 organisations and individuals, North and South, on our database. If you are interested in finding out more about organisations that support book and library development in the health field, or would like to seek collaboration with others working to improve access to health information in developing countries, please get in contact with the Programme Manager, INASP-Health.

Health Information Forum

Just over a year ago, INASP-Health launched the Health Information Forum, a series of workshops aiming to bring together the expertise of health information workers in the UK and internationally (see INASP Newsletter, May 1998).

Reports of the following workshops are now available on the INASP web site (e-mail and print versions are available to those without web access):

*
Workshop 1: Meeting the information needs of the isolated healthcare worker.

*
Workshop 2: Meeting information needs for professional education.

*
Workshop 3: The role of local resources and local publishing.

*
Workshop 4: Where is the political and financial commitment to health information provision in developing and transitional countries?

*
Workshop 5: 'Open Forum'. We are grateful to the British Medical Association for providing a small grant to help get the Forum off the ground, and are now making plans for 1999-2000 and beyond. In particular, we hope to develop and expand the international reach and activities of the Forum.

If you would like to participate in the Forum, please contact INASP-Health.

INASP-Health Directory 1999

The
INASP-Health Directory is now available. It describes the range of international programmes working to increase the availability of appropriate, reliable, low-cost information in developing countries and countries in transition. Intended for use as a reference and networking tool for all those with an interest in health information provision, the Directory includes sections on:

* organisations that support book and library development; * providers of free or low-cost information; * professional associations and institutions; * distribution programmes; * funding agencies.

The Directory is available for £25 (plus £3.50 postage and packing) to institutions and organisations in the North. This contribution helps us to supply complimentary copies on request to health libraries in the developing world.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh Programme Manager INASP-Health

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Academic publishing in Algeria

Initiatives to improve accessibility

At the INASP workshop on journal publishing, held in Oxford in May 1999, Yahia Bakelli presented a paper on science publishing in Algeria. The below is an extract of his introductory overview. It describes problems that will sound familiar to academics from many developing countries. However, Bakelli makes it clear that he does not question the Algerian potential and this drives his search for solutions which may contain encouragement for colleagues elsewhere in the world.

In Algeria there are 56 higher education institutions and 18 research centres connected to the MESRS (Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research). Statistics from the 1995/96 academic year showed that there were 14,427 full-time teachers who taught and performed research in university laboratories. Additionally there were about 1,272 part-time teachers. This is the population that constitutes a national potential of scientific authors.

When speaking of Algerian academic publishing, one must distinguish the public and private sector. Until 1997, the public sector was composed of ENAL (Entreprise Nationale du Livre) and OPU (Office des Publications Universitaires). However, in 1997 ENAL, the largest of the two, was dissolved and wound up. The private sector is composed of more than 100 publishers in different fields. The majority of these are concentrated in the capital Algiers. Some 39 scholarly and learned societies must also be mentioned here.

These categories of publishers produce the majority of the national scientific and academic publications. Until 1997, all university journals were published by OPU but now, with the advance of free market principles, it seems that many universities prefer to publish with private publishers.

Little is known about the output of private publishers. The only data we possess concern OPU publishing production. From OPU's establishment in 1975 until 30 April 1993, 2,588 titles were published. 1,639 of these were books, 733 were educational manuals and 216 were scientific journals. 1,168 titles were written in Arabic, while 1,420 were written in foreign languages, usually in French.

There are no national statistics of dissertations and academic works but there are those of the individual institutions. Let us take the example of Algiers University, the oldest university in Algeria and now made up of 13 institutes. Between 1962 and 1993, 772 theses were defended, of which 142 were at PhD (Doctorate) and 630 at Masters level. Of these, 496 were in Arabic, while 276 were in other languages.

A main conclusion of studies and surveys carried out to date is that the scientific and technical information cycle does not work in a coherent way. There is no systematic link between the publication and the dissemination processes.

Several problems can be identified:

1. More often than not, authors and publishers do not conform to standard presentation instructions such as ISO215, ISO8, etc. This negatively affects the quality and accessibility of often relevant contents of Algerian publications.

2. Figures from the latest survey on national grey literature suggest that in the research centres many kinds of materials were published and that young researchers publish more than their. Unfortunately they do little or nothing to promote their papers. Their research results and published papers are neither widely distributed or marketed even nationally, nor recorded by the university libraries. A large amount of scholarly knowledge is lost, forgotten or confined to researchers' desks, laboratories or university library shelves.

3. The existing surveys have shown that, at Algerian universities, journals are started easily but appear irregularly and vanish quickly. A problem characterising Algerian scholarly journals is the patchwork nature of their contents. One can quite easily find a paper about biology published together with another one about mathematics, or even a scholarly paper side by side with a popular work, all in the same issue.

4. For the higher education levels, local production is far lower than the demand, much of the literature used for graduate courses is imported from Egypt, Syria and of course France.

What are the reasons behind this situation?

All these matters can be explained by the fact that national publishers are short of professionalism and publishing know-how. Book promotion, pricing and marketing notions are an underdeveloped aspect of our publishing culture. Although it seems that during the last few years scientific publishers increasingly try to pay attention to these aspects, their efforts need to be continued for a few more years before results will be visible. There is insufficient marketing of local authors, or simply no good communication between publishers and their potential customers. Time and budget constraints do not encourage our teachers, scientists and scholars to publish in national journals. Indeed, successful local academics are more and more drawn towards European and American journals (for STM fields) or the Arabian Gulf publishers.

The cost of book production has a strong and negative influence and complicates the publishing process. Local publishers and printers have serious difficulties importing paper, film, ink and other essential materials, not only because of their high costs but also because of complicated importing procedures. They are unable to compete with foreign publishers on the quality of the product.

Other players influencing this situation are the libraries. Two notions are of major importance here. Firstly, proper channels of distribution of literature do not exist and there are no national depositories. Each university has its own depository procedures. This incoherent practice complicates the circulation of scientific literature at national level. Secondly, there is no information system for national scientific publications, for their processing, marketing and dissemination. Finally, there are factors relating to readers and the reading environment. The reading culture has a weak foundation in Algeria, even within the academic community. The oral tradition is still more prevalent than the written one. Add to this the fact that, in parallel to the decreasing spending power of the scientific reader in Algeria, the prices of books are increasing rapidly, thus putting them out of reach for most buyers. In the past, the government has subsidised the book price (for local or imported books), but because of the economic crisis, the government decided to stop this initiative.

Are there solutions to this problematical situation?

Attempting to break the vicious circle, CERIST (the Research Centre on Scientific and Technical Information) concentrates its activities in support of academic publishing on three integrated actions:

­ Promotion of the use of international standards for publication formats (such as ISO215 and ISO8). ­ Promotion of a bibliographic (as opposed to an administrative) orientation to the legal deposit system. ­ Development of a bibliographic system that systematically records each and every publication.

The strategic aim behind this integrated process is to rehabilitate the national scientific and technical information cycle and thus counter the imbalance between local scientific literature and foreign sources. This is the major challenge for the Algerian scholarly community because the over-dependency on foreign literature sources obstructs the development and progress of indigenous and local research activity. CERIST is now promoting these solutions in the academic world through an awareness-raising campaign focusing on book and journal promotion in order to increase visibility for national research results and publications. In parallel, CERIST is trying to implement the Algerian Scientific Abstracts (ASA) production chain, but many financial problems are hampering the project:

- An exhaustive acquisition of scientific literature presupposes sufficient funds to subscribe to most national scientific journals. - Even if they participate in the ASA system, certain national producers require return of their original document, just after its recording. ASA workshops must therefore be equipped with digitising or microfilming stations in order to be able to provide copies of documents to end-users. - A database file must be updated and edited in print and CD-ROM formats. This has financial implications. - The cost of sufficient qualified staff for acquiring, recording, indexing, abstracting and disseminating the ASA documents is high.

Communication problems also thwart smooth implementation of the project. Although scientists may be convinced about the benefit of CERIST's integrated process, they have difficulty submitting their papers directly to CERIST. They must transmit them via their librarians who are usually overloaded by their own work.

CERIST is now directing its attention to electronic publishing technology, its opportunities and feasibility in the Algerian academic context. It is now a question of finding an appropriate model of best publishing practices.

Yahia Bakelli CERIST (The Research Centre on Scientific and Technical Information) 03 Rue des frères Aissiou Ben Aknoun Algiers Algeria

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INASP on the Web

Links and resources for the science information community

The advance of the World-wide Web as one the world's major information tools has not left INASP untouched. INASP's own web-site has been under development for well over two years now and includes, apart from news about INASP, sections on publishing support initiatives, the African Journals On-line project, INASP-Health, the South-South Rural Development Network as well as electronic versions of the INASP Newsletter. The Links and Resources section, however, deserves particular attention.

The INASP Links and Resources section provides a quick-access guide to selected Web sites and Internet resources of special interest to the library and information science communities, and to scientists and publishers in developing countries. It is the only one of its kind around and an ever-growing resource. In the past three months alone, forty new links were added.

In particular, it is designed to assist organisations involved in electronic networks for development, and those who are thinking of moving to an electronic environment for scholarly communication. The links page is not just an ordinary links page expanding the jungle of the Worldwide Web with yet another set of roots and shoots: a short descriptive annotation is provided for each Web site.

The first two sections provide links to Web sites and resources on information and communication development, and electronic networks and ICT in developing countries. This includes links to organisations, professional associations and NGOs active in this area who share INASP's objectives of improving access to information and strengthening book and journals publishing in the countries of the South. A separate section provides links to resources dealing with electronic publishing and computer-based scholarly communication.

In addition we include links to other agencies and networks involved in promoting sustainable development, together with links to organisations supporting book and library development and book professional and other associations and learned societies.

There are also a number of links relating to two INASP subject-specific programmes: INASP-Health and the South-South Rural Development Network.

A resources section provides access to some of the best and richest Internet sites on development studies and the major gateway sites for African, Asian, and Latin American studies, as well as offering links to some other useful Web sites and resources, including databases, bibliographies, newsletters, and more. Additionally, we provide links to, and short descriptions of, a small number of recommended Web guides, directories, and general gateway sites, as well as some recommended Internet tools, Internet training courses and tutorials, and guides to evaluating Internet resources.

The INASP Links and Resources section will be regularly updated, and we would be pleased to receive suggestions for additional links that would be appropriate for inclusion in this section, particularly Web sites in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The INASP Links and Resources pages can be found on:
http://www.inasp.info/links

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Book Marketing and Promotion: A Handbook of Good Practice

Following the success of the Handbook of Good Practice in Journals Publishing, and its related systematic training programme, INASP is now responding to requests to prepare a volume devoted to book marketing and promotion.

This handbook will provide a compendium of practical advice on all aspects of marketing and promotion for book publishers and booksellers, especially those in the developing world. It will aim to assist not only publishers, especially small publishers, but it is hoped that it will also prove to be valuable for use by NGOs and other organisations and networks with publishing programmes.

Part 1 of the book will provide an overview of current practice in book marketing and will include chapters on planning and costing a marketing plan, describe the different types of promotional material and formats, and provide practical tips and techniques for successful copywriting. Other sections will be devoted to promoting books to libraries, bookshops and the retail trade, and to the academic and educational markets; selling by direct mail and building up mailing lists; attending book fairs and exhibitions; reaching review media and publicity outlets, and entering titles in the major bibliographic services and databases. It will also include separate chapters on (i) export marketing - with an assessment of the market for African books in the countries of the North and an evaluation of the current sales prospects in these markets - and (ii) marketing on the Internet.

Part 2 will deal with distribution, order fulfilment for export markets, arranging distribution and representation, and appointing agents and distributors overseas. Additionally, it will also include a chapter on buying and selling rights, licensing, and co-publishing. Both parts 1 and 2 will also include a small number of reprints of articles (or extracts thereof) which have previously appeared elsewhere but which are felt to be particularly relevant for re-publication in the handbook.

Part 3 of the book will consist of a series of case studies devoted to current practice and procedures in book marketing in Africa: three commissioned chapters reflecting the experience in East, West, and Southern Africa; and, for comparison, case studies from India and South Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America. The case studies will be contributed by leading book professionals >from these regions.

Part 4 of the handbook will consist of listings of a variety of resource materials, including directories and other reference tools of the trade; a comprehensive listing of the major review and publicity outlets for African books and those from other developing countries; a directory of useful organizations; and a list of major book prizes and awards.

A Glossary will provide details of about 200 of the most frequently used terms in book marketing and distribution, as well as including some of the high-profile terms relating to the new information and communication technology and the Internet.

An Annotated Bibliography will give information about a range of books and manuals which are recommended for further reading.

An Index will complete the volume.

Compiled by Hans Zell ca. 360 pp. 297x210mm ISBN 0-9522989-9-6 Planned publication: August 1999
Contact INASP for further details.

http://www.inasp.info/psi/


Scientific Journals in Latin America
a new publication

In recent years important changes have taken place that affect scientific journal publishing on the Latin American continent. At the international level, the first signs of the impact of information and communication technologies are evident, and although it it is difficult to foresee to what extent these new technologies will revolutionise the concept of scientific journals on the one hand, and the very concept of publishing on the other.

Although perhaps less spectacular and rather uneven among the different countries, at the regional level there has been a significant evolution in other aspects of journal publishing, National programmes of journal evaluation, the institutional assessment of the academic performance of researchers based on their publications, the increasing relevance of bibliographic information services and secondary publications, and severe cuts in the budgets allocated to science all call for collective reflection on the future of our scientific journals and for concerted action. Against this background, a Second Workshop on Scientific Publications in Latin America took place in November 1997 - three years after the first Workshop (see INASP Newsletter, May 1995) and again within the framework of the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico. On this occasion, the discussions were particularly oriented towards ways of strengthening the scientific periodicals on the basis of the relevance of their specific contribution, the improvement of their quality, and the increase of their circulation and visibility.

Fifty specialists from different countries, representing the diversity of >fields relevant to the agenda of the meeting, were invited to prepare written contributions in advance. At the end of two and a half days of fruitful debate among science editors, publishers, scientists, librarians and other information professionals, a comprehensive list of conclusions and recommendations of the meeting was presented in a plenary (and public) session. The materials of this Workshop, duly revised and edited, are contained in a volume published in 1999 by Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico, under the title: Scientific Journals in Latin America. This is a follow-up to the volume Scientific Publications in Latin America, issued by the same publisher in 1995. On this occasion, the book contains 34 contributions organised into four chapters:

I. Electronic publishing vis-à-vis print-on paper, II. Sustainability of serial scientific publications, III. Presence and visibility of the publications, IV. Standardisation and criteria for evaluation of scientific publications.

Following the inaugural messages, an introductory chapter has been added to guide the reader through this rich and complex material and to offer him or her an initial reflection on the issues debated. A comparison with the materials contained in the first volume confirms that these three years have not elapsed in silence for our scientific journals.

In accordance with one of the recommendations of the Workshop, the texts are published in their original language (Spanish or English), always preceded by an abstract in both languages. Publication of this volume was possible thanks to partial financing from ICSU Press, Conacyt (Mexico) and UNAM (Mexico).

Ana María Cetto

Scientific Journals in Latin America Ana María Cetto and Octavio Alonso, editors Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico, 1999 ISBN 968-16-5851-5 Available from: Fondo de Cultura Económica Carretera Picacho-Ajusco 227 14200 Mexico, D.F

International orders: Sales price: US $22.12


Electronic Journal Publishing: a Reader

Following the journal publishing workshops on which we reported in earlier issues of the Newsletter, INASP received a number of requests for advice with regard to electronic publishing. As few of the resources available are directly targeted at developing countries, INASP decided to try to bring together a number of key articles and papers to provide basic information on the main issues.

Sally Morris, Secretary-General of the Association of Learned Society and Scholarly Publishers, was commissioned to prepare an introductory essay under the title: 'Getting Started in Electronic Publishing'. In her article, Sally Morris gives an overview of the main implications of starting or shifting to electronic publication. Topics such as costs, logistical arrangements, and licensing considerations are all covered in a language that doesn't require expert-level computer literacy to comprehend. References for further reading are given throughout the essay, thus helping beginners on their way in this new area.

The core of a pilot edition, which was prepared in April, includes more specialist articles covering the publishers' perspectives and the economics of electronic publishing, and a separate chapter on electronic publishing and developing countries. Authors include experts in this field such as Gary VandenBos, Pieter Bolman, and the organisers of the ICSU Press Workshop on electronic publishing in Oxford in spring 1998: Dennis Shaw and Sir Roger Elliot.

The pilot version of the reader was reviewed at the ICSU Press/INASP/British Council Workshop on Scientific Communication and Publishing in the Information Age in Oxford this spring. Feedback from the workshop participants will be used to prepare a first edition for publication later this year. More information on this will be published in our next Newsletter.

http://www.inasp.info/psi/

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Notice Board

The INASP Newsletter Notice Board is a public forum for organisations and institutions wishing to advertise their projects, activities, offers or requests.

Short contributions can be sent to the editor at INASP.

African Health Anthology

(External review by Andrew Chetley Information and Communications Manager, Healthlink Worldwide, formerly AHRTAG.)

A new CD-ROM and on-line bibliographic database provides unique access to almost half a million references focusing on African health issues. The collection - the African Health Anthology (AHA) - is produced by the National Information Services Corporation (NISC South Africa).

An easy to use search facility enables rapid searching of the entire collection or any combination of the collected databases. Most records contain abstracts.

The databases used by AHA include those from the Medicines Information Centre at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Healthlink Worldwide, the AIDS Consortium (South Africa), 100,000 latest records from AIDSLINE, African Index Medicus, Community Health Information Database (CHID) from the University of the Free State (South Africa), SAMED from the South African Medical Research Council, and the subsets dealing with African health from WATERLIT, CAB Health, MedLine, and the Index to South African Periodicals.

The CD-ROM (or on-line access) has two drawbacks - its strong bias towards South African information sources and experience and its price. A year's standard subscription costs US$ 895 (reduced prices for bulk purchases). Both drawbacks may be overcome in time with increased use of the resource.

Further information is available on from the NISC website at:
http://www.nisc.com


International Course on Management of Agricultural Information Services

>From 13 to 24 September 1999, the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Amsterdam and the International Agricultural Centre (IAC), Wageningen, both in the Netherlands, will offer a course in design, implementation and evaluation of agricultural information services.

Components will include:

Information services design and strategy development (analysis of customer requirements, positioning in the market, and information technology developments); Management of information services (financial, technical and human resources; quality control and performance measurement; marketing and promotion); Focus (synthesis of course information for purposes of producing proposals addressing individual participants' own situations).

For further information (including fees) and an application form, please contact:
International Agricultural Centre P O Box 88 6700 AB Wageningen The Netherlands
E-mail:
Fax: +31 317 418 552 http://www.iac-agro.nl

The next INASP Newsletter will be published in November 1999. If you would like to contribute to its contents, please write to the editorial address above. Contributions must be received by 1 October 1999.
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