Scientific African: what is it and why is it important?

The development of science and research in Africa has taken an important step forward. In April this year, Africa’s first “mega-journal” was launched. Its name is “Scientific African”, and it has the potential to transform how research is done in Africa.

WHAT IS SCIENTIFIC AFRICAN?

Scientific African is a scientific journal.

Journals provide scientists a way to share their discoveries with the world and receive recognition for their research. They do this by publishing a scientist’s work.

Scientific African was launched at this year’s Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Conference in Rwanda. The NEF is an initiative to showcase and develop African research and its scientific community.

HOW IS SCIENTIFIC AFRICAN DIFFERENT TO OTHER JOURNALS?

Most other journals limit themselves by focussing on one field of science. Scientific African publishes work from all scientific fields. Scientific African is also planning to accept work from all across Africa. These two facts have led to Scientific African being called a “mega-journal”.

African research is often centred on health and agricultural issues. However, many western journals prioritise other fields of research. This has meant that African researchers have struggled to find journals to publish their work with in the past.

Scientific African will help to solve this problem. The editor of Scientific African, Dr Benjamin Gyampoh, said the journal will help pioneering African scientists, whose fields of research are not focussed on by other journals.

Scientific African charges scientists $200 to publish with them. This is around half as much as most recognised journals. Scientific African is also open access, which means that they do not charge people to read what they publish.

WHY IS SCIENTIFIC AFRICAN IMPORTANT?

In order to do research you must publish work and read the work of other scientists. Scientific African’s reduced costs will make it much easier to do research. This will help African scientists especially because they often receive little funding.

Scientific African will also provide an escape from “predatory journals”. These journals over-emphasise their importance to trick researchers to pay to publish with them. African scientists are under a lot of pressure to publish work, so they are vulnerable to this. The ability to publish with Scientific African will help defend against this vulnerability.

Scientific African will also develop Africa’s scientific identity and encourage collaboration between African researchers.

JOSEPH ELLIOTT

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