Decolonize University-Based Journals

The European Commission launched Open Research Europe, a publishing platform for the latest scientific discoveries accessible free-of-charge to everyone, researchers and citizens alike, six months ago; the Algerian Scientific Journals Platform (ASJP) is an electronic publishing platform developed and managed by the Research Center for Scientific and Technical Information (CERIST) of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria. I happened upon ASJP when Algerian editors took journals online. When I came to Texas State University, I took part in a Multicultural Curriculum Transformation & Research Institute, so AJSP’s “decolonize the university” aspect appealed to me. At this moment, I serve as Associate Editor for three journals on the ASJP, and I’d like to share it with @digitalorientalist.

Origins

Under the Ministry for Scientific Research, the General Directorate of Scientific Research and Technological Development implements Law No. 98-11 of 29 Rabie Ethani 1419 corresponding to 22 August 1998. This law exemplifies a global direction, “the immediate, online, free availability of research outputs without the severe restrictions on use commonly imposed by publisher copyright agreements… [concerning] the outputs that scholars normally give away free to be published – peer-reviewed journal. Current guidance can be found at the “Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS).”

Why? There is evidence that open research practices bring significant benefits to researchers relative to more traditional closed practices (McKiernan et al., 2016), and in a world in which hierarchical access to commodified knowledge reproduces the racialized categories of colonialism (Marginson 2021), the “open source” publication of research in the social sciences plays an essential role in developing a decolonial curriculum (Auerbach 2017). Towards such a goal, Algeria’s Ministry of Higher Education recently increased the number of official languages from two, to four: Arabic, English, French, and Tamazight.

Scale

Supporting the decolonization of digital orientalism, and with more than 150,000 articles published in more than six hundred journals, ASJP is particularly strong in North African studies. Of the 571 publications addressing Morocco in French, notable contributions include Imad Labbi, “Le Débouché Maritime du Maroc Oriental:‎ Un Conflit des Intérêts Commerciaux Entre le Maroc et l’Algérie; 1914-1956” (2021), Imane Errami, “Contribution à une Sociologie de Genre au Maroc le Mouvement Social Sexué – l’Exemple de Hirak « La Mouvance » de Rif au Maroc: la Femme au Cœur De La Lutte -vers La Construction D’une Identité Collective Féminine” (2021 as well), as well as Bouchra El Barkani, “L’Amazighe au Maroc, Entre l’École et l’Environnement Linguistique” (2018). In addition, ASJP publishes original works in Arabic, English, German, Russian, and Spanish. A simple search function by keyword is available here, and an advanced search by language, thematic, journal section, keywords here.

Let us address the five jurisdictions bordering the South Mediterranean, from west to east: beginning with Morocco with its Atlantic coastline, and leaving Algeria for last, in turn they are Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Of 501 publications on the ASJP addressing Tunisia, recent contributions include M. Mohamed, “l’Écriture Poétique de Langue Française en Tunisie” (2021), Moussem Abdelhafid, “Le Rôle de la Tunisie dans les Opérations du Soutien Logistique Pendant la Révolution Algérienne; 1956 – 1962” (2021), as well as Soudani Abdelkader, “Le Portrait du Monarque en Tunisie au 18e Siècle: les Cas de Hussein Ben Ali et Ali Pacha” (2020). The comprehensiveness of the open-source ASJP rivals commercially-published journals, commending it to the attention of digital orientalists who research North Africa.

Drawbacks

While fewer articles address Libya, this reflects a regrettable marginality of this jurisdiction in our profession as a whole (cf. “Maghrib from the Margins,” MERIP #298). Significant articles in ASJP include Mohamed Alkazagli, “The New Libyan State: In Search of a Modern Political Form” (2018), Luis Martinez, “Libye: Violence, Fédéralisme et Démocratie” (2014), and Jean Dejeux, “La Presse Maghrebine (Libye, Tunisie, Algérie, Maroc) Évolution Historique et Situation en 1965” (1996).

Recent publications addressing Egypt include Karim El Guessab, “Les Graffitis en Afrique du Nord : Les Voix de l’Underground” (2021), Małgorzata Sokołowicz, « Physionomie Proprement Égyptienne » l’Image de l’Autre dans le Voyage en Égypte d’Eugène Fromentin” (2019), as well as Monqid Safaa; “Mouvements Féminins et Féministes en Égypte : Rétrospective et Histoire d’une Évolution (Fin XIXème Siècle à Nos Jours)” (2016).

Strengths

Finally, among 2,538 results, notable contributions in the fields of “Arts and Humanities,” “Social Sciences,” and “Islamic Sciences” research in English and French regarding the capital city Algiers include Moncef Bakail, “The Role of Algeria and Its Diplomacy in the Liberation of Africa: 1962-1978” (2018), Slimane Melouki, “Role of Algerian Diplomacy to Keep Pace and Security in the Territorial Region Known by « African Sahel » ” (2018), as well as Mahmoud Bouayed, “A Propos de l’Histoire de l’Algérie Contemporaine de Ch. A. Julien” (1991).

Journals in the ASJP are classified both internally and externally. For the purposes of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, journals classified “C” are required for publication of Algerian PhD candidates’ dissertation research in the human and social sciences. As a general observation, “impact factor” claims to measure the importance or rank of a journal by calculating the times its articles are cited. Expressed as a percentage, the impact factor of a given journal claims to measure the frequency with which an average article in that particular journal has been cited during a particular year.

Impact

CERIST staff recommend impact indicators as the basis for journals’ classification to the General Directorate for Scientific Research and Technological Development (DGRSDT), which the Minister of Higher Education certifies on an annual basis. As just one example, Imad Labbi, “Le Débouché Maritime Du Maroc Oriental” (2021), appeared in Majalat al-Taarikh al-Mutawasitii / Revue d’histoire méditerranéenne (ISSN 2716-764X, E ISSN: 2716-7747), which commenced publication at the Université Abderrahmane Mira de Béjaia during 2019. A characteristic of commercialized academic publications, an impact factor is quite a subjective matter and has the most meaning when used to compare journals active in the same field, and of the same age. This two-year-old journal’s ASJP-calculated impact factor for Majalat al-Taarikh al-Mutawasitii is currently 0.0408, which ranks it with 73.1% of commodified journals which are most often calculated on a five-year baseline.

In addition to Open Research Europe, the AJSP complements African Journals OnLine (AJOL), a journal aggregator platform founded at approximately the same time as AJSP (1998), which currently hosts a total of 538 journals (including 278 open-access titles). AJOL titles are categorized, including such Digital Orientalist-friendly groups as African Studies (57 journals), History (3), Humanities (56), Language and Literature (21), Political Science & Law (18), Religion (6), and, finally, Sociology & Anthropology (44).

One thought on “Decolonize University-Based Journals

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s