Publication Output of Librarians in Tertiary Institutions: A Case Study of Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria
The importance of publication in the growth and development of the library profession cannot be overemphasized. It is essential for problem-solving, leading to dynamism in library services as a response to changing times and environment. Stressing the importance of research, Powell, Barker, and Mika (2002) assert its role in problem- solving and decision-making, and making librarians critical consumers of the research literature, allowing them to provide information services to researchers in other fields. Boaduo and Babitseng (2007) note that research has always been the main approach to problem-solving by professions. Aina (2004) observes that while research and publication are needed for expansion the frontiers of librarianship and for finding solutions to problems emanating from its practice, it also benefits librarians.
Montanelli and Stenstrom (1986) say that publication promotes advancement and recognition for librarians, and that librarians who conduct research have a more effective relationship with other faculty. Powell (1997) maintains that research and publication help individuals to think critically and analytically. Buttlar (1991) and Mularski and Bradigan (1991) find that academic librarians publish to meet the promotion and tenure demands of their institution to gain faculty status.
Despite the benefits of publication to librarians, their publication output is low. Onohwakpor and Tiemo (2006) summarize the limitations as ignorance on where to publish and the acceptable journals. Many studies attribute the low publication output of librarians to lack of training, which hinders the acquisition of adequate research and writing skilld and identification of research problems (Powell, et al., 2002, Avemariautulu, 2005).
Publication output of librarians in academic libraries
The publication requirement for academic librarians varies among different tertiary institutions. Studies have described characteristics of academic librarians and their scholarly publication. In general, such studies look at a large group of publications from librarians who are employed at a wide variety of colleges and universities (Long and McGinniss, 1981). Another useful strategy is a detailed study of the publication of librarians in a single institution. Hart (1999) remarks that, “this narrow focus is particularly appropriate when looking at trends in publication because the type of college or university in which a faculty member works has been shown to be key factor in influencing his or her publication patterns.”
This research attempts to further study librarians as authors by focusing on the publication output of the librarians at a single university: Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria. Librarians at that institution are required to publish in order to be successful in their quest for promotion and tenure. These librarians believe that expectations for publication have increased drastically in the past few years. Teaching faculty have also been pressured to increase their production of scholarly books and articles. Studies have analyzed whether academic librarians face a “publish or perish” dilemma. As noted by Alemna (1998) and Aina (2004), librarians must find a solution to the problems emanating from this practice, a solution that also benefits librarians.
Publication in core journals and other periodicals
Garfield (1971), states that:
Parks and Riggs (1993) found that less than 18 percent of all tertiary institutions require that librarians publish to achieve promotion and tenure.
Publication outlets for academic librarians
Librarians produce different types of publications and products, including newsletters, journals, bulletins, fact sheets, reports, summaries, guides, videorecordings, conference proceedings, books, bibliometric and technical reports, etc. Different types of publications have different purposes and a different audience. Journals can usually be divided into three broad categories: scholarly journals, popular magazines, and trade publications ( http://www.informaworld.com ).
Popular Magazines and Newspapers
Librarians most often publish in refereed and non-refereed journals in the LIS field. These publications include work done by librarians in the course of carrying out research.
Meeting the criteria for tenure and promotion, including the requirement to publish, comes with benefits for librarians and other academics, including: (Ocahi, 1998)
These benefits are come with expectations, which constitute the pains of the status. These requirements include:
The publication requirement is an entirely new one for librarians in Nigeria. Previously, librarians has only three requirements for promotion.
The benefits of publication notwithstanding, librarians are motivated to engage in publication for various reasons. Ocahi and Nedosa (1980) assert that publication is motivated by:
Such self perception, according to Avemariautulu (2005), is a product of education and skills acquired in the early days of professional practice which also determine the ability to produce scholarly papers. One of the motivating factors for scholarly publications by librarians is the availability of other publications which contain the needed language for publication and how to use them. Mabawonku (2005) states that librarians are motivated to publish, especially in overseas journals, to enhance their visibility and satisfy the need of their employers.
Factors Militating against Publication
The literature is replete with the barriers to publication by librarians. Powell (1997) postulates that despite the benefits of publications to librarians, they do not conduct enough research and publication. Among the reasons for low publication output by librarians according to Waldhart (1980), is that, librarians “fail to understand the purpose of publication, its limitation or how it might be effectively used.” Blick (1984), believes that librarians find publication lacking in practical applications or mission orientation. Onohwakpor and Tiemo (2006) summarize the limitation as ignorance about where to publish. White and Monemee (1978) identify lack of interest as a constraint on publication output. Many studies attribute low publication output to poor education, which hinders the acquisition of adequate skills in research, skill, and identification of research problems (Blick, 1984; Aina, 1997; Ocahi and Nedosa, 1998; Powell, et al., 2002; Avemariautulu, 2005.)
Another important factor is time. Swisher (1986) notes that librarians are always engaged more in their daily routine than in publishing. Blick (1984) and Sedikadiwa (2005) include lack of funds a hindrance to publication. Moahi (2007) mentions lack of time and inadequate publications skills as part of the problem.
The descriptive survey method was employed for this study. Both academic staff from the department of library and information science and the academic staff from the university library, Abraka made up the population. The population of academic librarians from the library is sixteen, while those from the department is thirteen, for a total population of 29.
A questionnaire was used to collect data from respondents. The questionnaire was divided into two sections. Section A elicited demographic information while section B elicited information on the publication output. The data were analyzed with simple percentages.
Findings and Discussions
Section A: Bio-Data
Table I: Educational qualifications
A majority of the respondents are BLS holders.
Table II: Gender
More than two-thirds of the respondents are male.
Table III: Distribution of respondents by age
A majority of the respondents are between the ages of 30-39 years.
Table IV: Years of experience
Most respondents have worked between 1-15 years.
Table V: Academic status/designation
A majority of the respondents are librarian I/lecturer I.
Section B: analysis of research findings
Table VI: Publication in the last two years
The table indicates that majority of the respondents have not published in the last two years.
Table VII: Attendance at conferences
A large majority of the respondents do not attend conferences frequently or have never attended.
Table VIII: Knowledge of journals
More than half the respondents report a lack of knowledge of journals
Table IX: Publications in journals
About half of respondents have published in Emerald or Nigeria Educators, while a little over 40 percent have published in Library Philosophy and Practice.
Table X: Motivating factors for publishing
Almost all respondents publish in order to be promoted or to contribute to knowledge.
Table XI: Barriers to publication output
A majority of the respondents are of the view that too much demand by daily work in the library and department respectively stand as a hindrance to publication output. At majority of respondents have not been promoted for more than ten years. A majority of respondents have also not published in the last two years. Most respondents have not attended conferences and do not have knowledge of journal titles in their profession. Most publications are concentrated in a few journal titles. Librarians are motivated to publish for various reasons, for promotion, to contribute to knowledge, and for pleasure. Regardless of some of the motivating factors, librarians do not generally engage in adequate research and publication. This is acknowledged by Cullen (1998) and Molholt (1998), White and Monemee (1978) who note that lack of interest is an hindrance to librarians publication.
Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that:
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