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a retrospective conversion of its catalogue. It also has a few computers connected to the Internet to which postgraduate students and staff have unlimited access.

Kenyatta University publishes the East African Journal of Science: An International Journal of Pure and Applied Science, Chemchemi: International Journal of the School of Humanities, and the Kiswahili Journal. The latter is published sporadically because journal publishing is seen as very demanding and less rewarding. As such, academic staff would rather engage in writing school textbooks that earn better money. Journal subscription has decreased since the 1980s due to reduced budgets among university libraries. The acquisition librarian said at times the budget could not purchase even five journals and felt that equipping the library to be the center of research capacity development was not given priority. However, it was noted that there is slight improvement in the 2003 financial year; budget allocation for journals has gone up to K Sh. 1.1 million (about US$14,000). Even with this improvement the library can only subscribe to core journals, at times only one per department. The limited budget requires the university to buy journals in single copies through an agent. Other journals are acquired through donations, though these have decreased over the years.

Online Resources. The university library’s focus is to expand its electronic resources. The library has Internet connectivity and allows postgraduate students and academic staff unlimited access. It has access to electronic and online journals (close to 8,000) and bibliographic databases with abstracts, including Dissertation, Psychlit (psychology), TEEAL (environment and agriculture), POPLINE (population), EBSCO, Humanities Index, Education Index, Medline, and Elite. Most of these databases are available on CD-ROM. The library offers online publications by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications’ (INASP) Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI), including EBSCO online, Blackwell Synergy, AJOL, and the IDEAL library. It also offers electronic books, primarily World Bank publications. INASP/PERI has been helping in paying for the licenses of the databases.

Another new project in Kenyatta University is eSAP, whose mandate is to train library staff, faculty members from various departments on Internet, publishing, and Web design. The project also aims at facilitating electronic publishing of resources from the university, starting with business and development studies. The project is still at the infancy stage and has no editorial board. Initially the software was to be installed at Kenyatta University, but due to infrastructural (communication mainly) problems, inadequate articles to publish in the targeted disciplines and editing and reviewing problems, they shifted the base to the Netherlands.

Donors funding the Kenyatta University’s electronic journal initiative include the World Bank, INASP/PERI, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Cornell University (host to the TEEAL databases).

Building research capacity through online publishing has encountered many challenges, including inadequate exposure to and training in computer applications, especially the Internet, even among the library and academic staff; inadequate infrastructure, including equipment (computers and their accessories are few), furniture, and communications (reliable telephone connections); lack of a technical support staff; and low morale of likely authors due to low salaries paid in an ever-rising cost-of-living environment. The dilemma for these potential authors is: devote time to research and writing or to looking for means of survival? The challenges related to editing and reviewing stem from the incentive structure related to these activities and the lack of financial resources. There is also a concern about the sustainability of the resources after the donor has left.


There is a need to create an awareness of the Online Journal Systems project and its long-term benefits. There is also a need for capacity building for would-be editors and reviewers, especially in scientific writing and research methodology, even at the university level, as well as for technical staff and library staff. Budgets must accommodate the purchase and maintenance of equipment, especially computers and communication gadgets. There is an urgent need to look for ways to motivate authors, editors, and reviewers, such as training, experience-sharing workshops, and networking opportunities.

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