Live-blogging the 2009 Vancouver PKP Conference

Visibility, Quality and Empowerment: the Journals Online Project at INASP: The Session Blog

Presenter: Sioux Cumming, Session Abstract

July 9, 2009 at 4:00 p.m.


Sioux Cumming, originally from Zimbabwe, works with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP). Sioux works on the INASP Journals Online project (JOLs) where there are now five JOLs (BanglaJOL in Bangladesh, NepJOL in Nepal, PhilJOL in Philippine, SLJOL in Sri Lanka and VJOL in Vietnam). Sioux identifies new journals to be included, works with the editors of the journals to load new issues and keeps the websites up to date. She records the statistics relating to the usage of the sites and produces newsletters for each of them. Sioux is also involved in training editors in the publishing workshops and she assists in the AuthorAID project.

Session Overview

INASP isn’t well known in the Western world. INASP’s mission is to increase worldwide access to academic information. PERii is INASP’s main programme. INASP negotiates deeply discounted licenses with journal publishers for developing countries. Less well known is INASP’s work to make local research well known to the rest of the world. So INASP is both trying to make western journals accessible to developing countries and getting developing countries journals accessible to the whole world. INASP is funded by Department for International Development (UK) and Swedish Cedar.

Africa Journals Online (AJOL) was established in 1998 and the experiences with that have led to improvements and led to the subsequent migration to Open Journal Systems (OJS). AJOL has now been transferred to a local host and managed by them, as INASP’s mandate is to always to pass on to local resources.

AJOL was a continent wide site with 26 countries represented (now with 350 journals), but in Asia, each country wanted its own site, so Nepal and Vietnam JOLs were followed by Bangladesh JOL and PhilJol and lastly SLJOL in 2008. So 5 country based JOLs have been created in the last couple years, to finally be followed by a continent wide journal – AsiaJOL.

Workshops are the primary tool for launching a journal online (JOL). Online tutorials, CDs or remote training are just not effective. Many of these editors have little prior experience with a website, so a series of 3-4 day workshops are needed. So first they bring editors together and discuss online issues (open access movement, being online, the need for a strategic plan), then another after we’ve established a JOL (more strategic issues, improving quality of the JOL, increasing visibility of the JOL and how to load content) and then a 3rd workshop is editorial (working with editors, working with reviews, how roles related and how to use peer review system online).

A lot of monitoring of JOLs is done. In summary, across the 5 Asian JOLs there are 133 journals of which 76% of the articles are full text (open access full text). This is different from AJOL, there is more buy-in to open access in these Asian countries. There are 6500 articles all together and there have been 1.3 million views of all these articles and 800000 visits since these 5 Asian JOLs started. These figures are small, but these are journals, which had not previously had wide circulation. More encouraging is that data is showing that people are coming from the US and UK to look at these JOLs, from 200 countries in total to view these journals.

INASP encourages editors to monitor their own views i.e. which articles are viewed most, which least and then to determine what course of action to take with this data. Testimonials are also collected and are important to funders.

INASP has provided a web presence to journals which had none before or were buried deep in university web sites. Now if you search for any of these journals on Google Scholar, they come up. This is a cheap and simple program for getting journals accessible. INASP pays the hosting charges. All journals become part of a community as editors and teams meet other from other disciplines in workshops. This develops a network of production teams. The workshops have been very successful, face to face contact is important. JOL newsletters are produced every 6 months and subscribing to them is an easy way to understand what is happening with a JOL.

Session Questions

Question: We need to collect research about the work of these journals, to see how increase in submissions is related to viewing and how this relates to numbers of reviewers. All this builds a research culture and community. We need to start showing the growth of this community.  How big is the submission plus review community, when you start to add these together we start to measure a research network, a research network enabled by this open access journal.
Answer: Yes, I agree. We do need to do this.

Question: Where did additional submissions come from?
Answer: Some journals are not yet accepting online submissions. For those that are, they are getting a lot from Nigeria, Turkey, Iran and India. Bangladesh journal of Botany has a lot of submissions from Turkey. So a lot of south – south communication is occurring.

References and Related Links



International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP)

Journals OnLine (JOL) Projects (INASP)

Bangladesh Journals Online (BanglaJOL)

Nepal Journals Online (NepJOL)


Philippine Journals Online (PhilJOL)

Sri Lanka Journals Online (SLJOL)

Vietnam Journals Online (VJOL)