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Title: Scholarly publishing in Africa : a case study of African university presses
Author: Darko-Ampem, Kwasi Otu
ISNI:       0000 0001 3404 6451
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2004
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University press publishing was introduced in sub-Sahara Africa around the mid 1950s as the new independent countries strived to accelerate the pace of education and training of their peoples with the sole purpose of the rapid socio-economic development of their countries. Just like their universities, African university presses were modeled after their American and European counterparts. Like all genres of publishing, scholarly publishing in Africa has not been cushioned from the challenges imposed by economic factors. In fact publishing in Africa enjoyed a short boom in the early 1970s, but due to the serious socio-economic downturns in most of these countries, starting from the early 1980s, these gains have been halted and in some cases reversed. This study examines the policies and practices of six sub-Saharan Africa university presses. It is a multi-site case study to establish how far the presses have adopted and/or adapted their policies to suit the environment and circumstances of Africa. The study investigates the extent to which constraints facing them affect their publishing efforts, their coping strategies, and the possible avenues of reducing the effect of these constraints. Several data collection methods were employed including on-site visits, interviews, and observations at three of the presses, and a mail survey of all six presses. There is a serious absence of competition and cooperation between the presses surveyed. There are no aggressive fund raising strategies, yet the survey showed financial constraint as the most crucial factor that impedes the development of their publishing activities. The presses do not have press publishing areas or press lists, which define the subject areas in which each of them concentrates its publishing. None of the presses has a formal written policy on manuscript acquisition. The study confirms that university presses publish mainly in the humanities and social sciences. Views on a unique African model of a university press are divided. The issue of author-publisher relationship is high on the presses agenda, especially as African scholars seek publishing avenues with African presses. Opinion on publishing non-scholarly materials was divided but swayed towards getting the needed profits to support non-profitable but essential publishing by the university press. For the majority of the presses, the most important publishing category is undergraduate textbook, and direct sales is the most popular means of marketing their works. The presses have succeeded at selling between 25-65% of their output. The study concludes that the coping strategies adopted by the presses in the face of harsh environmental conditions include the introduction of ICTs, changes in the treatment of authors, editorial policy on publishing non-scholarly materials, staff levels and use of outsourcing, and different approaches to sources of funding. It recommends a consortium of African university presses based at the micro level on Specialization, Cooperation, and the adoption of ICTs especially print-on-demand technologies. Each press must operate as a Trust in order to enjoy autonomy as a private company, but be registered as a non-profit organization. At the macro level funding must be vigorously sourced through donor agencies including The African Development Bank. Governments should prioritize book publishing, the development and stocking of libraries, encourage reading, set up regional university presses, and introduce book and publishing components into research project funds. The study recommends further research into the effect of technological developments on university press publishing in Africa, a follow up study in 10 years to see how university presses in Africa are surviving, and a detailed study of university press consortia and the implications for tertiary education in Africa.
Supervisor: McCall, James ; McGowan, I. D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: University presses Africa ; Publishers and publishing Africa ; Scholalry publishing-Africa ; Learning and scholarship ; University presses-Africa