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Nigerian Academia and Local and International Journal and Book Publication Developing a Nationally Based International Knowledge Ecosystem Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju Compcros Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems "Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos in Search of Knowledge" Donate to Compcros An independent research centre, exploring and publishing open access investigations on issues across a broad spectrum of human interests 1
Improving the Nigerian University System Through Increased Geographical Spread and Visibility of Publications by Its Scholars On Nigerian vs International Publication of Journal Articles and Books The Current Situation : Difficulty of Access by Continental Africans to Western Published Books and Journals Examples from the Achievements of African and Africanist Scholars in the West : Biodun Jeyifo, Toyin Falola and Abdul Karim Bangura Biodun Jeyifo Toyin Falola Abdul Karim Bangura Comparing Publication and Pricing Strategies : Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press Suggestions: Persisting In and Improving Nigerian Journal and Book Publication The Critical Necessity for Journal Creation and Management by Nigerians in Nigeria The Priceless Value of the Internet and its Unique Platforms in Academic Development on a Global Scale The Value of Online Social Media in Academic Development in Relation to Academic Journal Publication The Absolute Necessity for Book Publication and Distribution by Nigerians in Nigeria The Value of Online Social Media in Academic Development in Relation to Book Publication Aboyeji Iyonoluwa on Digital Learning Production and Distribution in Nigeria The Indispensable Necessity of Indigenous Knowledge Creation and the Scope of the African Academic Market
Improving the Nigerian University System Through Increased Geographical Spread and Visibility of Publications by Its Scholars In relation to the challenges facing the Nigerian university system, as highlighted by the ongoing strike action by the union of Nigerian university lecturers, ASUU, the university system is being critically examined by various parties and suggestions made for improving it. One of the challenges observed is presented in terms of the need for Nigerian academics to achieve significant global visibility and general credibility by publishing a good percentage of their academic works outside Nigeria. This essay of mine is inspired by a debate on the USAAfrica Dialogues Series Google group, debate which builds, for me, on related issues discussed at the Nigerian Biomedical and Life Scientists Yahoo group, where I made a contribution similar to what I state in this essay. On Nigerian vs International Publication of Journal Articles and Books Feyi Fawehinmi's position on his blog is representative of some critics of the Nigerian university system, describing Nigerian academics as being largely locally published alone. He presents a beautiful description of the value of international publication. An academic responding on Fawehinmi's blog who disagrees with his other comments on academic salaries agrees about the local publishing charge and gives reasons for that, indicating a very disturbing scenario for scholarship in Nigeria. While I acknowledge the value of publishing outside Nigeria, I think we might need to rethink the publishing paradigm implied by the concept of international publication. My ideas on this subject are still not definite but I would like to make some provocative statements followed by suggestions.
The Current Situation: Difficulty of Access by Continental Africans to Western Published Books and Journals Examples from the Achievements of African and Africanist Scholars in the West : Biodun Jeyifo, Toyin Falola and Abdul Karim Bangura Biodun Jeyifo You might publish a book a year, as the literary scholar Biodun Jeyifo is described as doing did when he left the University of Ife to teach in the US, climaxing in his monumental last book on Soyinka, at which point he moved to a Harvard professorship. Toyin Falola You might almost be a God of knowledge like the historian and wide ranging humanities and social sciences scholar, Toyin Falola and the multi-‐ disciplinary scholar Abdul Karim Bangura, scholars whose range of subject matter and volume of publication make them institutions in themselves, most likely inexhaustible fields of study, but even though Falola's work is staunchly rooted in Africa and Bangura is a die hard Afrocentrist, if I am using the right terminology with reference to Bangura, one needs to ask-‐ what communities of learning are being served by their universes of publications? To what degree are African scholars, students and universities able to buy their books? These books are academic publications, academic publications being consistently the best in non-‐fiction, in my experience, but, as published by Western publishers, which I expect they and other academics in the West are published by, they are consistently the most expensive. Toyin Falola's book publication list on his website indicates he has two relatively recent books published in Nigeria by Bookcraft. One of them, A Mouth Sweeter than Salt, seems to be a reprinting in 2012, of a title first published by the University of Michigan Press in 2005. The second one, Ibadan: Foundation, Growth and Change, 1830-‐1960, is described by Bookcraft on Amazon as the first edition in its 2012 publication It is being sold in hardback on Amazon at £40.45 and $65. The Nigerian prizes are N5, 000.00 for paperback and N7, 500 for hardback.
XE Currency Converter converts these Nigerian prizes to their £ and $ equivalents as £29.2342 and $46.8457, making the book much cheaper in Nigeria. Falola has been publishing at least two books a year since 1984 or 1983-‐his website seems to demonstrate some inconsistency on the years. I did not go through each book for every year, on account of the time I wanted to spend on the exercise, but having run through 2012, where I saw the Bookcraft publication and two or three years further down, I then went to the beginning of his book publishing record. I saw that the books in the earlier years are not linked to sites that give more information about them, perhaps due to limited resources in Nigeria in the years the books were published, being likely to be published while he was still in Nigeria after his PhD award of 1981 at the University of Ife. Further up those earlier years, though, I observed one linked publication which might have been published in Nigeria, by GIS it seems, after which I began to consistently encounter works published in the West, and the West alone. I assume, therefore, that most of Falola's works, particularly after he had left Nigeria, are published in the West, the US especially, and England next. One can conclude, therefore, that Falola eventually chose to publish again in Nigeria, and in the case of the book on Ibadan, the book is more affordable than its counterpart published in the West. Apologies for any misreading here, but I get the impression he has resumed publishing in Nigeria at a time when he can afford to publish again in Nigeria, since he does not need the legitimisation that continental Africans gain from publishing in the West or the challenges of legitimacy he might have had with publishing in Nigeria while climbing the academic ladder in the West. Abdul Karim Bangura I could not identify the locations of the publishers of some of the books I chose at random among Bangura's publications, and there seem to be significant prize variations among his books, but I doubt if my basic thesis is disturbed. Comparing Publication and Pricing Strategies : Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press The high end of expensive academic works might be represented by some academic publishers like Cambridge University Press, who publish the cream de la creme of uncompromisingly academic work, often without any concessions to
a non-‐academic audience, concessions the equally academically robust but perhaps more adventurous Oxford University Press achieves with its general range like the Very Short Introductions, a great idea, presenting the most up to date research on a subject in a succinct manner that still does not eschew disciplinary rigour. Cambridge UP, on the other hand, is characterised purely by high end works, to the best of my knowledge, encompassing the absolute academic rigour and specialist character of a good number of Oxford UP publications, but without Oxford UP's range of audience scope and pricing, Oxford UP interestingly, also publishing new children's fiction, suggesting their range, while Cambridge UP seems to me to represent absolute hard core academic work, and with prices to match, their only fiction seeming to be classics of Western literature. Their books, however, represent a concentration of some of the very best, the most ambitious, carefully conceived works, some rightly taking years to research and write. I will not bore you any further with reflections arising from my salivations in the Cambridge UP flagship bookshop on Trinity Street, Cambridge, but leave you with the observation of a bookseller that those books are not really meant for individuals but for institutions to buy. When you encounter their fantastic many volumed series on the history of science-‐they are very good at many volumed series-‐ the prices of individual volumes in that series ranging from £100 to about £140, then you might be compelled to assess yourself and see the point of that bookseller. They sell to individuals, though, and give a 20% discount to students and staff of Cambridge university and neighbouring academic institutions, along with recurrent discount sales. I have also been able buy some books there, even without the discount, recognising the place as a necessary destination. Patronising them is a necessity in certain contexts. There is quality, and there IS quality. In a world in which the most globally representative books and journals are published outside Africa, what should Africans do? To what degree can their communities read even the works of continental Africans published in those journals, in a world in which even Harvard, possibly the world's richest university, once announced it can no longer afford its scope of journal subscription, a world in which Timothy Gowers, Fields medal winner (described as the highest honour in mathematics), and Cambridge university professor of mathematics, led a successful boycott on
working with journals published by the prestigious academic publisher Elsevier, in protest at the publisher's pricing policies? Suggestions: Persisting In and Improving Nigerian Journal and Book Publication The Critical Necessity for Journal Creation and Management by Nigerians in Nigeria I suspect that those creating journals in Nigeria and publishing in them are doing the right thing in the long run for the interests of the cognitive ecosystem represented by the Nigerian educational system and its social context. I suspect the real challenge is how to do it as well as possible and keep doing it, developing and maintaining the highest standards productive to the well being of the journal and its contributing scholars, expanding the global membership of the editorial board, expanding the international demographic represented by those who write in the journal and the international range of its distribution. The Priceless Value of the Internet and its Unique Platforms in Academic Development on a Global Scale Web access would make a world of difference in all these cases. One could have Web only journals. The Value of Online Social Media in Academic Development in Relation to Academic Journal Publication One could use a blog as a journal template as is already being done. One could even use Facebook. Moyo Okediji is doing some wonderful work at the Facebook based University of African Art, particularly with his every Monday free conferences on African art, enabling so many who had been shut out of the world of sophisticated art discourse to take part in the development of discourse in the field by scholars and artists. The possibilities that initiative opens up are so many.
One could also use both Web and print options, as some journals do at present. The Absolute Necessity for Book Publication and Distribution by Nigerians in Nigeria I suspect that those writing and publishing books in Nigeria represent the foundations of an indigenous cognitive and educational ecosystem. I suspect the real challenge is how to do it as well as possible and keep doing it. Are Nigerians able to readily import academic books? If not, nothing prevents one from writing a good book and making money from it. The entire country would be a wide open market, and, to a lesser degree, even other African countries. I am not aware of the current situation in Nigeria, but I doubt if lecturers need to compel students to but their books as some have done. Textbooks are for general student use, and summations of the field,while others are directed at advancing the field and are addressed to specialists and those prepared to read at that more advanced level. The Value of Online Social Media in Academic Development in Relation to Book Publication Web access could also make a world of difference here. One can publish online, to address both a global market and even a local market accessing your work on mobile platforms such as phones and iPads, as well as publishing in print for the local market. Aboyeji Iyonoluwa on Digital Learning Production and Distribution in Nigeria Aboyeji Iyonoluwa argues, in his response to a blog post by Ikhide Ikheloa, that "I really believe, especially with the growth and establishment of MOOCs in the last year digital learning resources are the future of the Nigerian higher education market". [I expect he is referring to massive open online course (MOOC) " an online course aimed at large-‐scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a
community for the students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent development in distance education"-‐Wikipedia] Iyonoluwa describes his own strategy this way: "I actually moved back to Nigeria to help arrest some of this decay in our tertiary education system by setting up Fora – we publish and distribute digital learning resources (presentation slides, required texts, test banks, videos of lab demonstrations and lectures) bought from Universities in the United states and repackaged in Nigeria and we resell to the Nigerian University market. We currently mainly focus on the management sciences and engineering fields and we charge every student in a department one all encompassing annual subscription fee of between $50-‐$100 for the privilege." The Indispensable Necessity of Indigenous Knowledge Creation and the Scope of the African Market An impressive idea, particularly in terms of the platform of distribution, but, if one is to develop an indigenous learning system in which you groom people to generate knowledge, you must move from consumption to production. You must write your own books, create your own learning resources. Such home grown production should also be geared to bring down the cost of the product to the end user. It should be possible to equip a first class library, and later, laboratories and other work structures, and commission people to use these resources in writing books which are published in Nigeria. With time, those books that have relevance outside the country can also be sold externally. The market is huge, covering Nigeria and Africa.