Awareness and use of scholarly electronic journals by members of academic staff: a case study of Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE).

Author:Msagati, Nelson


Since the seventieth century the printed journal has been the backbone of scholarly communication. Nevertheless, with the emergence of internet and World Wide Web in the 1990s, the form of journals has been transformed into digital version that saves physical storage, enhance different searching capabilities and speed both access and delivery of articles to readers This event marked the paradigm shift in scholarly communication, from printed journals as the principle medium of communication to electronic journals. As a result of potential benefits offered by electronic journals, many academic libraries have embraced electronic journals and cancelled subscription to printed journals (Moyo, 2002; Mutula, 2007 and Thanuskodi, 2011).

Today, the use of electronic journals is becoming important among researchers and academic staff worldwide vis a vis printed journals. For example, in higher education, scholarly electronic journals have become essential tools for learning and research as they provide access to timely, high quality and relevant scientific information to scholars and researchers with a view to keep them abreast with new discoveries and developments. Moreover, members of academic staff use electronic journals to update their lecture notes as well as avoiding duplication of efforts. On the other hand, electronic journals have added enormous resources to the collection and improved services of the library, enhanced access to journal literature and decreased demand for photocopy services as well as document delivery (Madhusudhan and Chirra, 2009 and Madhusudhan, 2010).

However, in recent decades, the majority of researchers and academicians particularly in the developing countries have been deprived of access to the key research literature that is found mainly in expensive journals published in developing countries. This situation is due to reduced library budget which could not cope with the enormous journal subscription cost and inadequate distribution mechanism (Rosenberg and Raseroka, 2000; Rao, 2001; Moahi, 2002; Lwoga et al., 2007).

Nevertheless, enormous progress has been done in the last few years to ensure that scholars and researchers in Africa can access the growing quantities of information now produced in electronic format. Support has been provided in setting up the necessary network infrastructure and providing the requisite hardware and software. Also, negotiation with publishers have resulted in electronic journals and databases being made free or at heavily discounted prices through programmes like Access Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA), HINARI Access to Research Initiatives, The Essential Electronic Agriculture Library (TEEAL) and Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI), Online Access to Research on Environment (OARE) and a lot of training has taken place (Rosenberg, 2006).

Introduction of Electronic Journal in Tanzania

The historical background of the introduction of scholarly electronic journals and databases to scholars in academic institutions in Tanzania is divided into two phases. The first phase took place in the early 1990's when the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) introduced the use of CD-ROM facilities to its users. This phase was heralded as the first innovative programme toward the adoption of electronic library resources (Manda, 2005). The second phase took place in the late 1990's and it was mainly facilitated by the advent of the internet and WWW in most academic institutions in Tanzania. The introduction of internet and WWW was a significant leap toward access to full-text electronic journals among researchers and scholars in Tanzania.

In 2001, International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) through its (PERI), which is also a multi-disciplinary initiative, became the first far-reaching attempt to introduce the use of full-text electronic journals and databases in research and academic institutions in Tanzania. This initiative was later complemented by other subject-specific initiatives such as AGORA, OARE, HINARI, and TEEAL (Manda, 2005; Oduwole and Sowele, 2006). These programmes have led to increased access to scholarships among researchers and scholars in Tanzania (Wema, 2002; Lwoga et al., 2007).

The PERI initiative was specifically created to help strengthen research capacity in developing and emerging countries by delivering research and scholarly information, disseminating national research, enhancing ICT skills, and strengthening local publishing (Rosenberg, 2008). This programme is funded by Sida/ SAREC and coordinated by the INASP and the University of Dar es Salaam. Through PERI, online access is provided for full-text electronic journals, databases and back-up support for document delivery. Access has been country-wide for most databases and for others access is limited to some academic and research libraries in Tanzania (Manda, 2005). Today, DUCE as a constituent college of the University of Dar es Salaam continues to enjoy subscriptions to PERI resources under the umbrella of the Consortium of Tanzania Universities and Research Libraries.

Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE)

Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE) was established as a constituent college of the UDSM to address the acute shortage of graduate teachers and experts in the education sector in Tanzania as a result of the expansion of primary education enrolment through the Primary Education Development Programme and the creation of the new secondary schools through the Secondary Education Development Programme. (University of Dar es Salaam Undergraduate Prospectus, 2013/2014). DUCE Library was established to support core activities of the University namely teaching, consultancy, research and learning.

The Library offers diverse information services including scholarly electronic journals to its user community as well as end user training in order to adopt flexible learning.

Today, the community enjoys access to electronic journals from programmes such as PERI, HINARI, and AGORA initiatives. Currently, PERI makes available over 29,300 online journal titles to researchers, academic staff, and students in the higher learning institutions in developing countries including DUCE (Rosenberg, 2008).

The use of online databases at DUCE has been facilitated by establishment of high technological infrastructure. The University uses 11Mbps Wireless link with its Local Area Network (LAN) spanning three faculties and the university library. Back-up generators are available to ensure continuity of service in case of power outage. Members of academic staff and students can access full-text electronic journals from their offices, the library computer laboratory, faculty computer laboratories, or even from their laptops connected to the internet (LAN) without having to pay for the services (Carnegie Proposal Funding 2008/2009).

Several studies have shown that scholarly electronic journals are becoming increasingly important to scholars and researchers. Nicholas and Huntington (2006) observed that there was a growing reliance on electronic resources by scholars and a high occurrence of non-traditional types of resources. This was supported by Dillon and Hahn (2002) who observed that more members of academic staff at the University of Maryland used electronic journals daily or weekly than they used print journals.

However, in the developing countries and Tanzania in particular, studies show that there was under-utilization of scholarly electronic journals in higher learning institutions (Dule et al., 2004; Kiondo, 2004; Kinengyere, 2007). In their studies, Kiondo (2004); Kinengyere, (2007); Manda (2005); Manda (2005); Manda and Nawe, (2008); Nyika, (2004); Nyika, (2006), and Lwoga et al. (2007) argued that low patronage of scholarly electronic journals in the library was largely attributed to lack of information literacy skills among library users, limited access points, low bandwidth and recurrent power outages. Manda and Mukangara (2007) and Bablhavaeji and Anaraki (2013) observed low usage of scholarly electronic journals and other electronic resources compared with search engines such as Google and Yahoo, which were reported to be frequently consulted.

Asemi and Riyahiniya (2007) concluded that awareness of the existing library electronic resources is crucial in influencing usage of the resources and maintained that when a user is aware of resources it would usually lead to greater use of those resources.

It is against this background that this study attempted to investigate the awareness and use of scholarly electronic journals at the Dar es Salaam University Collage of Education (DUCE) by members of academic staff. Specifically, the study investigated their level of awareness on the available scholarly electronic journals; to know their level of use of electronic resources and to recommend the way forward.

Literature Review

Many studies have been carried out on awareness and use of electronic journals. In the 1990s when electronic journals were introduced...

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