Establishing a new open access journal in Africa: the case study of the African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine (PHCFM)

Pierre de Villiers, Stellenbosch University

Abstract


Introduction

Family Medicine is a relatively new and developing discipline in Africa following on the international trend. Several initiatives are underway to improve the training of family physicians and generalist medical practitioners in the Sub-Saharan African context. This resulted in considerable scholarly exchange between 10 different Sub-Saharan African countries and their South African counterparts, supported by Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care of Ghent University in Belgium and Belgian public funding (VLIR ZEIN PR320 project).

A need was identified during this project for an African-based journal that would support these initiatives. It had to provide a publishing platform for research and scientific advances and a scientific forum for scholars and practitioners in the broader discipline of Family Medicine within the uniquely African context, namely primary health care.

Open access

In order to have the widest possible impact PHCFM had to be published primarily as an online, open access journal. It therefore required a business model that would enable immediate, worldwide, barrier-free, open access to the full text of research articles, in the best interests of the scientific community and the public in general. It would also be published under a Creative Commons Attribution license, vesting copyright with the author and granting the reader unrestricted use of the material, provided the original source is properly acknowledged. Under this open access framework, researchers would be able to read, download, and/or print any article without requiring a subscription to the journal. A “print-on-demand” option will however also be available for specific paid subscribers (such as libraries).

Business model

In the absence of a pan-African scholarly society to support the journal financially article processing fees was considered, but seed funding was obtained to cover publication costs through sponsorship from the VLIR ZEIN PR320 project with financial support from the Belgian government, Directorate General for Development Cooperation (www.vliruos.be).

The South African open access publisher OpenJournals Publishing (www.openjournals.net) was contracted to publish PHCFM, making use of the open source online publication system Open Journal Systems (OJS) (www. http://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs).

PHCFM aims to publish at least 20-30 articles per year on a rolling publication basis, i.e. articles are published immediately as they are accepted.

Editorial control

The editorial control and peer review are provided by the African and international scholarly family medicine community. The editor-in-chief is Professor Gboyega A Ogunbanjo from the University of Limpopo, South Africa. A large international editorial board mainly from Africa and other countries supports the editor and directs the policies of PHCFM.

Case study

This free-paper will cover the full story of the successful establishment of PHCFM to serve as a model for the establishment of open access scholarly journals in Africa.

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