For researchers, the journal article is at the heart of the scientific enterprise; they share their findings through articles, which can help them find collaborators and raise their profile so they can build on their work. Researchers solve pressing problems, in large part, via the medium of the scientific article.
But publishing an article in a scientific journal is a daunting task. The journey from outlining an experiment, to obtaining a result, to writing and submitting an article can take years. And at the end of this process, there’s no guarantee that a researcher’s article will cross the final hurdle —finding publication in a reputable scientific journal.
This journey can be especially challenging for researchers in Africa, whose contributions to the scientific conversation have often been overlooked and whose development has been hampered by a scientific publishing ecosystem that hasn’t always addressed their needs. Together, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) and Elsevier are bringing state-of-the-art technology and processes to bear on this challenge, creating a modern open access megajournal to accelerate capacity-building efforts across Africa.
“Through our experience working with the AIMS Centres, we learned that our students faced significant problems in communicating their research,” said Thierry Zomahoun, Founding Executive Director of NEF and President and CEO of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). “They had exciting results to share, but they were facing structural difficulties in bringing these results to the attention of their colleagues both on the continent and around the world. They were frustrated, and we believed this communication gap was significantly hindering scientific progress across Africa. We wanted to find a way for NEF to help address this problem.”
Without the ability to easily share their latest research findings and to access the research their colleagues have produced, young African researchers have had difficulty participating in the virtuous circle of scientific publishing — the back and forth of publishing, reviewing and revision that enables scientific progress.
Scientific African — a pan-African, flagship scientific journal for African researchers — will address these issues, providing its authors a highly-visible platform that welcomes submissions from all scientific disciplines. Publishing all of its articles open access, the journal will be free to read, making the research it publishes easily discoverable and powering collaboration between researchers, institutions and countries.
One of the innovative elements of Scientific African will be its use of Elsevier’s publishing infrastructure, which Elsevier will be providing to NEF at cost. Elsevier will also lend its data sharing, marketing, editorial management, and data analytics expertise to the Scientific African team.
“Elsevier has long been committed to supporting African researchers through the Elsevier Foundation and programs like Research4Life,” said Elsevier CEO Ron Mobed. “And we’ve spent years building systems and processes that enable researchers to efficiently and effectively communicate. Our business is finding ways to support and build the research ecosystem of tomorrow. But researchers have varying needs, and we try to put Elsevier’s expertise at the service of researchers wherever they are, and in the way that best suits them. I think Scientific African illustrates that fact perfectly.”
NEF has been a key player in developing excellence in scientific training for Africans and advancing the cause of scientific, educational and economic self-sufficiency on the continent. At meetings held at the inaugural NEF Global Gathering in 2016 in Dakar, Sénégal, NEF and Elsevier opened a dialogue on finding ways to solve some of the structural problems African scientists face.
Two years later, Scientific African was announced at the 2018 NEF Global Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda. A unique partnership between NEF and Elsevier, Scientific African is a scientific publishing platform dedicated to expanding access to African research, increasing intra-African scientific collaboration, and building scientific capacity in Africa.
NEF and Elsevier have created a modern, accessible publishing outlet for African researchers, staffed by NEF, headed by fellows from NEF’s Community of Scientists, and welcoming collaboration from institutes and scientists across Africa and beyond.
"Developing scientific capacity in Africa is a huge task that no single entity can accomplish alone,” said Dr. Benjamin Apraku Gyampoh, Editor-in-Chief of Scientific African and Lecturer in the Department of Fisheries and Watershed Management at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. “All hands are needed on deck, and every effort that can be marshalled should be channeled to raising the scientific profile of Africa. I believe Scientific African will play a key role, and in strong partnership with other initiatives, Africa will benefit overall."