Opinion: NCRST journal breathes new life in scholarly communication in Namibia
Three years ago, when the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) mooted the idea of a multidisciplinary academic journal, some critics never thought that such a proposal would yield any meaningful results. Others said it was a far-fetched idea which would fizzle or evaporate into thin air. But dedicated scholars from NCRST, the University of Namibia (Unam), the mother university, the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) and the International University of Management (IUM), believed in the idea of the journal and took upon themselves the mammoth task of setting up structures, rules and regulations that have culminated in the first edition of the Namibia Journal for Research, Science and Technology that was launched last week in Windhoek. As I reflect on the whole process, I wish to state that the trajectory of this journal was not smooth sailing. Transforming the terms of reference provided by NCRST was not an easy job for the editorial team. The major constraint was that the editors and members of the editorial board were, and still are, full-time employees of the aforementioned higher education institutions who had to commit most of their time to attend to the issues of NCRST journal, in addition to fulfilling duties at their work stations. Nonetheless, they carried out their duties in the journal project judiciously and produced the maiden edition of the Namibia Journal for Research, Science and Technology containing ten well-researched articles.
It was the NCRST’s long term vision for establishing a platform for scholarly communication for academics and researchers in Namibia and abroad. On its part, NCRST was pleased to embark on this journey of scientific publication with an aim of putting Namibia and Namibian researchers on the global citation database. The other objective was to improve Namibia’s ranking in the Science Citation Index (SCI) and other global indices.
So, what is the Namibia Journal for research Science and technology? What type of fields does it cover? The Namibia Journal for Research Science and Technology is a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal published annually by the NCRST. Broadly, it publishes research articles from pure, applied and allied sciences and technology, and humanities and social sciences. The journal reflects the multidisciplinary nature of the field of science and technology. It addresses the needs of multiple, interlocking communities, including methodologists in mathematics, statistics and econometrics, as well as basic and applied scientists in biology, chemistry, physics, public health, medicine, mining, geology, computing, food, agriculture and engineering. The journal strives to enhance the level of methodological rigour in pure and applied sciences and it contributes to the development of methodological standards in the fields of science and technology in Namibia. In pursuing its main objective, the journal also provides a meeting ground for researchers from a number of traditional disciplines and fosters the development of scientific research and publication.
As an interdisciplinary publication, the Namibia Journal for Research Science and Technology also accepts research articles and critical analyses from disciplines in humanities and social sciences. The scope in these two broad areas includes, but not limited to: linguistics, literature, history; jurisprudence, philosophy, archaeology, religion, ethics, the history, criticism and theory of the arts, education, sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, political science, geography, media and information studies, development studies, criminology, and development studies.
The omnibus approach the journal takes has been hailed by researchers in that it promotes researches and scholarly communication in sciences, humanities and social sciences without segregation. In other words, the Namibia Journal for Research, Science and Technology challenges the STEM approach to higher education where emphasis is placed only on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The journal proclaims loud and clear that researches in disciplines in arts, humanities and social sciences are of equal importance in society.
Associated with scholarly communication in academia is the saying ‘publish or perish’ which means that scholars must publish in reputable journals in order to be promoted. Promotions to senior lecturer, associate professor, professor and distinguished professor grades are tied to the number of scholarly output of individual academics. The system of promotion to these grades is often transparent as those scholars with a consistent record of publications are promoted without problems. Those who do not commit themselves to publishing academic work normally remain at the same entry level regardless of the many years that they may have spent lecturing at a university. According to the saying ‘publish or perish’, the latter academics are the ones who ‘perish’ as they cannot move further in the promotion ranks. Therefore, ‘publish or perish’ is used as a warning to academics who do not conduct research and who do not publish scholarly work in the form of books, book chapters, articles, conference proceedings, or models. It is also used to put pressure on academics to conduct research and publish their findings.
Having said the above, the launch of the Namibia Journal for Research Science and Technology is a welcome development in higher education circles in Namibia. What is left is to have the journal listed on one of the international indices that is capable of measuring its impact factor. The impact factor of a journal refers to how important a journal is. This is measured by the number of articles from the journal that are cited in scholarly communication.
Congratulations NCRST for opening this academic avenue for scholars in science, humanities and social sciences!
* Professor Jairos Kangira is the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Namibia. He writes on his own accord. Email address:firstname.lastname@example.org
2019-11-08 08:58:16 | 2 months ago