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Insight into Research Publication Output of Academic Librarians in Southern African Public Universities from 2002 to 2011

D Ocholla
L Ocholla
B O Onyancha


This article reports on the research and publication patterns of librarians working in university libraries in Southern Africa. Lists of countries and names of public universities in the region were obtained from the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA) website, while names of the librarians were obtained from the 60 university websites and the Europa World of Learning. The study confined its scope to publications produced within the last 10 years (2002-2011). Informetrics through content analysis was used as the primary research method. The documents sourced for content analysis were mostly obtained from the Library and Information Science and Technology Abstracts (LISTA) database, which is the largest abstract database in library and information science, while impact was measured through citations obtained from Google Scholar. The results revealed that: a minimal number of items have been published over the last ten years; many universities do not place staff lists of librarians on their websites; not all senior university librarians’ (e.g. university librarians/directors/executive directors, etc.) publications appeared in the databases; most academic librarians preferred publishing individually; and the most published type of document was journal articles, predominantly short articles, followed by conference proceedings. Further in-depth analyses and comparisons with a related study conducted in Eastern Africa are provided and discussed to unravel hidden publication patterns and trends that influence research visibility. We suggest the need for debate on tying the promotion of university librarians to scholarly research output and argue why such linkage is necessary. We strongly recommend that full lists of all library staff, their titles, and qualifications (where possible) should be made available on university library websites for the benefit of improved library information services and research.