“Journals vary widely in terms of their size and status within their respective disciplines; Prestigious, high impact ones tend to receive higher levels of citation from academics across the world, while others have smaller readerships and have lower impact factors.They can be accessed via commercial or non-commercial journal-hosting sites, with some combining both methods. Large platforms, who index and provide search abilities for journals and the work published in them, tend to be commercial sites. Based within the Global North, these include well-known brands such as Elsevierand SAGE that charge expensive subscription fees to universities in order for their staff and students to access these journals. This is in contrast to non-commercial sites such as AJOL in South Africa, which is a fully ‘open source’ platform that publishes scientific research without using a paywall.
However, the persistence of digital divides mean that not all Higher Education Institutions, nor their staff or students, can access these journals. Many have limited financial resources and technical infrastructures (such as computers or an internet connection), while others may not have English (the main language of these journals) as their language of instruction.
This results in the production and distribution of academic knowledge being dominated by the Global North. Those without access are often left behind, exacerbating existing digital divides in the educational sector.
Although academics from poorer countries cannot always access this information, they still have important contributions to make to their respective disciplines. Consequently, academia itself has joined the calls for greater ‘open access’ to research in order to address this divide.
The concept of bibliodiversity hails from Latin America and refers to the need for a culturally diverse and balanced range of published materials for generating knowledge. It is said to be threatened when there is an undue focus (or ‘overproduction’) on a limited number of publications, which are often commercial interests. With journals being increasingly accessed online, advocates suggest that publishing platforms should work collaboratively, increasing access to knowledge. Hence, open source platforms like AJOL have been launched with the intention of promoting these open forms of knowledge, albeit that many have a limited budget….”