Scholarly communication has been defined as the system through which research and other scholarly writings (new knowledge) are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community and preserved for future use (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2003). Shaughnessy (1989) defined it as a social phenomenon whereby intellectual and creative activity is passed from one scholar to another, while Parekh (2000) described it as a process through which scholars convey their knowledge to, and exchange ideas with each other and future generations. Case (2002) sees scholarly communication as the process by which scholars and scientists conduct their research and make the results of their work known. From the definitions scholarly communication can be defined as the process whereby knowledge is created, evaluated, disseminated and preserved to support the universities' research, teaching and service mission of the institution. This paper will deal more with knowledge generation and communication.
Traditionally knowledge is generated or created through research carried out in universities, research institutes, business and industrial establishments, or through experts' views and positions. Such a research is conducted in libraries, laboratories, workshops, and in the field. Higher education institutions accumulate, process, and preserve research results in their libraries and from such accumulation, the results are exploited (Thakur, 2003). Knowledge documented and accumulated is usually accessed by people who have the skills. Such skills are readily found in academics in institutions of higher learning such as universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, research institutes, business, and industrial establishments. Ali (2005) views knowledge as verifiable and useful information obtained through research, opinions, evidence, facts, and so on. Academics or researchers are generally expected to have acquired some degree of hands on specialist experience. An emerging fact that is often overlooked is the influence rank, years of experience, and gender have on the performance of academics.
In the present economic situation there has been inadequate funding for research, inadequate acquisition of scholarly materials in libraries, and lack of sponsorship to conferences, seminars, and workshops. To cope with this problem, academics have turned to ICT to generate and communicate knowledge. Gill (2000) defined ICT as the modern science of gathering, storing, manipulating, processing, and communicating desired types of information in a specific environment. ICT in all its forms has created opportunities for storing, organizing, accessing and disseminating knowledge (Oriaifo, 2005). The evolution of ICT has helped provide wider access to a vast volume of information and knowledge sources in a manner that is simple, easy, effective, efficient, and independent of time and subject discipline (University of Wisconsin-Madision Libraries, 1999). In spite of the numerous potentials of ICT and its provision in Nigerian universities, there is still evidence that not much knowledge is generated and communicated by academics. African Publishers' Network has revealed that Africa, including Nigeria, contributes less than 3 per cent to the books produced in the world. That means that Nigerian institutions of higher learning generate and communicate a very meagre percentage of the knowledge needed for societal transformation. This is a matter of great concern to educational administrators, educationists, and scholars in Nigerian tertiary institutions (Ochu and Egbule, 2005).
Studies have been carried out to determine the extent of ICT use by academics, the accessibility and level of ICT skills possessed by academics. The present study focuses on assessing the influence of rank, years of experience, and gender on ICT use for scholarly communication.
Rank in this study is categorized into senior (professors and associate professors), middle (senior lecturers and lecturer 1) and junior (lecturer 2 and assistant lecturer). In generating new knowledge, academics are expected to interact with their senior colleagues (professors and associate professors) by giving them research works to critique, discussing new knowledge created with them, and allowing the senior colleagues to measure their worth before making articles available to the broader community. All academics in institutions of higher learning aspire to become professors some day. To be promoted to the rank of professor, they must have outstanding records of scholarly achievement, must have achieved national leadership and in most cases international professional recognition in areas of research, education, and program development. In universities, senior lecturers generally...