Academic journals are a major medium through which research findings are published. Through publication in such journals, researchers communicate their methodologies and findings. The modern process of scholarly communication relies heavily on books, monographs, and conference proceedings, but most commonly on academic journals (Oluronsola 2001). The journal is fundamental to scholarly communication. In addition, the status conferred by publication in highly-rated journals is essential to the career of academics. Journals have remained essentially unchanged in form and function since their beginning. Science as we know it is scarcely imaginable without the scholarly journal. It is of immense important to note that, through journal, researchers and academics access important information about recent developments in their field. Studies by Olurunsola and Opaleke (1997) reveal the importance of publishing in scholarly journals for promotion and tenure. The primary function of academic journal is to report on original research, making it available to the rest of the scholars within the discipline, many are published by professional associations or universities.
The Concept and History of Academic Journals
Koepf (2001) describes journals as having a "serious look." Articles are written by scholars within specific disciplines, the language used is specific to the discipline covered. It assumes some knowledge on the part of the reader. Kronick (1976) maintains that a journal is usually addressed more limited audience than a newspaper does and is not as firmly bound to events of the day. Milne (1999) defines scholarly communication as "the social phenomenon whereby intellectual and creative activity is passed from one scholar to another." This can be formal or informal. Formal communication usually involves journal articles. According to Yahaya (1993), a journal refers to those periodicals created by any of the following:
* A constituted body: an educational institution, ministry, board, bureau, council, commission, library, center, academy, division, or department.
* A specialized group: scientists, historians, educators, economists, archaeologists, linguists, folklorists, medical doctors
* An interest group: student associations, religious group, trade union.
Abba (2004) describes journals as periodicals issued by academic communities for a particular purpose or audience. This paper considers academic and scholarly journal to be the same: publications dealing with matters of current interest to groups such as faculty members. The history of academic journals can be traced to the 16th century AD. Wells (1999) reports that until the late seventeenth century, communication between scholars depended on personal contact and meetings arranged by learned societies (e.g. the Royal Society of London). As the membership of these society increased, it was harder to attend the meetings, and proceedings circulated as a record of the meeting. The proceedings became a place to publish papers that had not been presented at the meeting. Thus, the beginning of what we now recognize as scholarly journals.
Ornstein (1963) states that, "on January 5, 1665, Denis de Sallo published the first western scholarly journal, titled Journal des scavans ." MacDonell (1999) argues that the Journal des scavans was not regarded as publication of academic community until 1903 when it came under the auspices of Academic inscriptions et Belles-lettres of the Institute de France. According to Ornstein (1963) the major objectives of the Journal were:
* Publish current events in academia
* Provide obituaries of famous men.
* Catalogue and short description of books
* Publish experiments in physics and chemistry, observations of astrological phenomenon.
* Print decisions of tribunals and Universities.
MacDonell (1999) notes how learned societies in other countries created journals on the model of the Journal de scanvans. In Africa, the history of academic journals is quite remarkable. A considerable number of journals exist in Africa; for example, the Journal of Negro History , a quarterly publication founded in 1916 by Carter G. Woodson to correct through scholarship white racist views of African American history and culture (Myers 1999). From its inception, the publication has discussed the full range of black experiences from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries. Contributors highlighted the struggle and achievements of African Americans under slavery, as well as reviewing books and compiling bibliographies of material from Africa and America. One of the most important contributions of the journal to the body of scholarship on African Americans was its publication of primary source material, which many white scholars believed did not exist. This journal revealed the existence of these sources and facilitated...