Using an electronic journal availability study to measure access to electronic journals by academics and researchers in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Zimbabwe


  • Thembani Malapela University of Cape Town, LISC
  • Karin De Jager University of Cape Town, LISC



e-journals, e-journal availability, collection management, subscription journals, access to research, research needs


This article examines the use of an electronic journal availability study as a means of measuring access to subscribed journal collections that are needed by faculty members for their teaching and research. As in other disciplines, academics in agriculture are dependent on articles in electronic journals to obtain recent information and to build upon their own research. Empirical evidence is needed to select specific databases, to justify subscriptions, and to meet the research needs of academics. This article presents findings from an electronic journal availability study, which was used to determine the extent to which electronic journal collections met teaching and research needs at the University of Zimbabwe. The study took place between September 2013 and February 2014. A core journal titles list, simulating faculty’s research needs, was retrieved from a library’s electronic journals databases to establish the electronic journals availability rate: a measurement of the availability of the journals from the library’s electronic collections. This study showed an 85.5% availability rate across local collections, with the following results for the donated journal schemes: 63% in Access to Global Research in Africa (AGORA); 47% in Access to Research for Development (ARDI); 51% in Health Internet Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), and 53.5% in Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE). This electronic journal availability study demonstrates that librarians need continuously to evaluate their collections and to assess whether these meet the needs of their users.

Author Biographies

Thembani Malapela, University of Cape Town, LISC

Thembani Malapela, is a Master of Philosophy Graduate student at the Library and Information Studies Centre, University of Cape Town,

Karin De Jager, University of Cape Town, LISC

Karin De Jager is an Associate Professor at the Library and Information Studies Centre at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.






Refereed Research Articles