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Seeking Impact and Visibility: Scholarly Communication in Southern Africa

African scholarly research is relatively invisible globally because even though research production on the continent is growing in absolute terms, it is falling in comparative terms. In addition, traditional metrics of visibility, such as the Impact Factor, fail to make legible all African scholarly production. Many African universities also do not take a strategic approach to scholarly communication to broaden the reach of their scholars’ work.

To address this challenge, the Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme (SCAP) was established to help raise the visibility of African scholarship by mapping current research and communication practices in Southern African universities and by recommending and piloting technical and administrative innovations based on open access dissemination principles. To do this, SCAP conducted extensive research in four faculties at the Universities of Botswana, Cape Town, Mauritius and Namibia. SCAP found that scholars:

o carry heavy teaching and administrative loads which hinder their research productivity• remain unconvinced by open access dissemination

o find it easier to collaborate with scholars in the global North than in the rest of Africa

o rarely communicate their research with government

o engage in small, locally-based research projects that are either unfunded or funded by their universities

o produce outputs that are often interpretive, derivative or applied due, in part, to institutional rewards structures and funding challenges

o do not utilise social media technologies to disseminate their work or seek new collaborative opportunities.

All of these factors impact Africa’s research in/visibility at a time when scholarly communication is going through dramatic technical,legal, social and ethical changes.

Seeking Impact and Visibility shares the results of SCAP’s research and advocacy efforts. It not only analyses these four universities’ scholarly communication ecosystems, but illuminates the opportunities available for raising the visibility of their scholarship. It concludes with a series of recommendations that would enhance the communicative and developmental potential of African research.

This study will be of interest for scholars of African higher education,academically-linked civil society organisations, educationally affiliated government personnel and university researchers and managers.

Driving Change: The Story of the South Africa Norway Tertiary Education Development Programme

Driving Change tells a story that exemplifies a basic law of physics, known to all – the application of a relatively small lever can shift weight, create movement and initiate change far in excess of its own size.

 

It tells a story about a particular instance of development co-operation, relatively modest in scope and aim that has nonetheless achieved remarkable things and has been held up as an exemplar of its kind.

 

It does not tell a story of flawless execution and perfectly achieved outcomes: it is instead a narrative that gives some insight into the structural and organisational arrangements, the institutional and individual commitments, and above all, the work, intelligence and passion of its participants, which made the South Africa Norway Tertiary Education Development (SANTED) Programme a noteworthy success.

Trading Places: Accessing Land in African Cities

The problem is not with markets per se, but in the unequal ways in which market access is structured. -- Trading Places

Wildland Fire Management Handbook for Sub-Sahara Africa

Fire has been used as a land-use tool for controlling the environment since the early evolution of humanity. Fire continues to be used as such by people living in different ecosystems across sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, the rich biodiversity of tropical and subtropical savannas, grasslands and fire ecosystems is attributed to the regular occurrence and influence of fire. However, wildfires have been harmful to ecosystems, economies and human security. This is due to increasing population pressure as well as increased vulnerability of agricultural and residential lands.

The Wildland Fire Management Handbook provides scientific guidelines for maintaining and stabilising ecosystems and for state-of-the art fire prevention and control. The handbook features contributors from diverse backgrounds in wildland fire science and fire management. It deals with topics ranging from fire behaviour and controlled burning to fire ecology and the effects of burning on Cape fynbos. In addition the Wildland Fire Management Handbook includes fire regimes and fire history in West Africa. Thus, the handbook is groundbreaking in its furthering of sub-Saharan Africa’s capacity for fire management and consequent preservation of the environment. The Wildland Fire Management Handbook is an important resource for strategic sustainable land-use planning, disaster management and land security. The handbook is well suited to the needs of wildland fire management practitioners, scientists, academics, and students of universities and technical schools. Thus, environmental consultants, conservationists, ecologists and those dealing with wildland fire disaster prevention, preparedness and mitigation will be interested in the book.

Reflections on Identity in Four African Cities

Identity has become the watchword of our times. In sub-Saharan Africa, this certainly appears to be true and for particular reasons. Africa is urbanising rapidly, cross-border migration streams are swelling and globalising influences sweep across the continent. Africa is also facing up to the challenge of nurturing emergent democracies in which citizens often feel torn between older traditional and newer national loyalties. Accordingly, collective identities are deeply coloured by recent urban as well as international experience and are squarely located within identity politics where reconciliation is required between state nation-building strategies and sub-national affiliations. They are also fundamentally shaped by the growing inequality and the poverty found on this continent. These themes are explored by an international set of scholars in two South African and two Francophone cities. The relative importance to urban residents of race, class and ethnicity but also of work, space and language are compared in these cities.

Hijab: Unveiling Queer Muslim Lives

Hijab: Unveiling Queer Muslim Lives is the first known collection of South African Muslim stories relating to Islam and sexual diversity. This anthology shares reallife stories of people that have struggled, or may still be struggling, to reconcile their spirituality and their sexuality. These are stories that illustrate the oneness of being and reflect on how some interpretations of the scriptures may alienate others. Although the collection focuses predominantly on Muslim stories, it is universal in its approach in dealing with spirituality rather than religion.

The stories are all biographies, or autobiographies, and the writing process was a therapeutic one for the authors of these powerful stories. Hopefully they will provide strength and courage to others in similar situations, not so much through a deeper understanding of those who share their stories in this collection, but rather through a process of identification with the circumstances related by these courageous story-tellers.