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Featured Country: Nigeria Featured Journal: Journal of Librarianship and Information Science in Africa
PROMOTING ACCESS TO AFRICAN RESEARCH

About AJOL

African Journals OnLine (AJOL) is an online service to provide access to African-published research, and increase worldwide knowledge of indigenous scholarship.

AJOL is a Non Profit Organisation based in South Africa.

Why is AJOL needed?

At the same time as online academic resources from the developed Global North are made available to Africa (such as HINARI, AGORA and OARE), there needs to be corresponding online availability of information from Africa. Important areas of research in Africa are not necessarily covered by publications from the developed world. African countries need to collectively play a greater role in the global online scholarly environment. African researchers also need access to their own continent's scholarly publications.

Mainly due to difficulties accessing them, African-published research papers have been under-utilised, under-valued and under-cited in the international and African research arenas. The internet is a good way to change this, but many hundreds of worthy, peer-reviewed scholarly journals publishing from Africa cannot host their content online in isolation because of resource limitations and the digital divide.

Valuable information has not reached the people who need it.

AJOL is working to change this.

What is AJOL?

  • AJOL is the world's largest online collection of African-published, peer-reviewed scholarly journals.
  • AJOL's Vision is for African learning to be translated into African development.
  • AJOL's Mission: to increase online visibility, access and use of African-published research output in support of quality African research and higher education.
  • AJOL provides free hosting for over 400 peer-reviewed journals from 30 African countries, using the internet and open source software. AJOL's partner journals cover the full range of academic disciplines with particularly strong sections on health and agriculture.
  • Journals are selected for inclusion on AJOL using the following criteria: 
    1. The journal must be scholarly in content, and contain original research (in addition to other content)
    2. The content is peer-reviewed and quality controlled
    3. The journal has an established publishing track record (i.e. Volume 1, Issue 1 not accepted)
    4. The journal has an actively functioning Editorial Board (institutional affiliations and contact details required)
    5. The journal has a registered ISSN and eISSN
    6. The journal will provide all content for inclusion on AJOL (tables of contents, abstracts, and full text) in electronic format and in a timely manner. Partner journals are responsible for ensuring their content on AJOL is up to date.
    7. The journal guarantees all requisite permissions are granted to allow AJOL to operate an article download service
    8. The journal is published within the African continent (i.e. management of publishing strategy, business development and production operation are all run from an African country)
  • The AJOL website has a Google PageRank of 8, and receives over 150 000 visits per month from 190 countries around the world; an indication of the need and widespread use of the AJOL initiative. AJOL allows for free access to thousands of article abstracts, and offers a progressively charged article download service for researchers and librarians to access full text of individual articles.

History of AJOL

  • African Journals OnLine (AJOL) was initiated in May 1998 as a pilot project managed by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publication (INASP). It aimed to promote the awareness and use of African­ published journals in the sciences by providing access to tables of contents (TOCs) on the Internet. The project was evaluated at the end of 1999, and it was recommended that AJOL be continued and expanded to include more journals in more subject areas, as well as abstracts of articles.
  • At its re-launch in August 2000, AJOL featured 50 English language African ­published journals in agricultural sciences, science and technology, health and social sciences. It also provided abstracts where available, and introduced a key word search service and photocopy document delivery service for all titles.
  • In 2001/2002 titles from South Africa and Francophone Africa were added, as well as many more from the rest of Africa.
  • By the end of 2003, the service provided TOCs and abstracts for over 175 journals, from 21 African countries, including some Francophone journals, and many with French abstracts.
  • In March 2004, AJOL was re-launched again with a more sophisticated database system. This was undertaken to increase the functionality of the site, and to ensure that AJOL is compatible with other research services offered on the web. As a result, journal content listed with AJOL is now being indexed through Open Archives Initiative (OAI) search engines dedicated to research, which harvest the metadata for each journal article, making this work readily available to a global audience, and giving the journals greater visibility among the worldwide research community.
  • In 2005, AJOL moved to African management and is now a not-for-profit company in its own right, based in South Africa.
  • Five years later, in 2010, AJOL has grown to host the content of over 400 African-published, peer-reviewed journals from 30 countries. The AJOL website is visited each month by an average of 150,000 researchers from all over the world.
  • On the 1st of May 2009, AJOL launched new functionality on its website, that will allow near instant download of full text articles from its partner journals. This will make African-published research even more accessible, and is a great step forward in AJOL accomplishing its aims of increasing scholarly communication within the African continent and from us to the rest of the world.

AJOL's Software

AJOL's system is entirely based on Open Source software programmes and technologies:

OJS Open Journal Systems developed by the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) in Canada
PHP Scripting Language
MySQL Database Management System
Apache Web Server
Linux Operating System


AJOL's system consists of a bibliographic database as well as digitized full text, with a user front-end (where users can browse and search the contents of the database online) and an administration front-end (where AJOL staff or journal publishers or editors can log in and manage their journals on the database by performing tasks, such as adding new issues).