The adoption and use of peer reviewed electronic journals by academics at selected Zimbabwean state universities.
The study investigated the adoption and use of peer reviewed electronic journals by academics at selected Zimbabwean State Universities. The investigation grew out of the realisation that despite several efforts that were made by different university libraries in Zimbabwe to enhance access to peer reviewed electronic journals, the use of such journals among academics remained very limited. Specifically, the study determined the level of awareness of peer reviewed electronic journals by academics, established academics‟ extent of use of the resources, assessed the attitudes and perceptions of academics towards the resources, determined factors that influence the behaviour of academics in Zimbabwean State Universities towards the resources, and investigated the strategies used by state universities libraries in Zimbabwe to promote use of peer reviewed electronic journals by academics. The study was underpinned by the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) whose constructs of Performance Expectancy, Effort Expectancy, Social Influence, and Facilitating Conditions and moderating factors of gender, age, experience, and discipline proved valuable to the tackling of research questions and analysis of data. The study embraced both the positivist and interpretivist paradigms and adopted the quantitative and qualitative approaches within a survey research design. The population consisted of 794 academics from three state universities in Zimbabwe: National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), and Midlands State University (MSU). The population also included 24 professional librarians from the same universities who were all considered as respondents for the study. The sample size for academics was 363. Data were collected by questionnaires from academics and interviews from professional librarians. The overall response rate was 58.4% for academics with 212 questionnaires being returned out of the 363 that were sent out whereas 22 professional librarians were interviewed out of the targeted 24. Quantitative data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and qualitative data were processed using the Nvivo package. The study found that while the majority of academics in the three universities were aware of the existence of peer reviewed electronic journals in their institutions they did not have intimate knowledge and awareness of the resources. The study also established that the majority of academics at Zimbabwean State Universities had adopted electronic journals but their level of use was low as measured by the number of articles consulted per week, frequency of use, and the major source of information for academics. Attitudes and perceptions of academics towards peer reviewed electronic journals were generally on the positive side with many academics regarding the resources as important for their work. However, academics in Zimbabwe were frustrated by many barriers that militated against their use of electronic journals. The study also found that state universities libraries in Zimbabwe depended on a number of strategies to promote use of electronic journals. However, there were weaknesses in the way these strategies were implemented as they were largely not personalised. The study also established the best fitting UTAUT model, isolating Performance Expectancy and Facilitating Conditions constructs as the most crucial determinants of adoption and use of peer reviewed electronic journals in Zimbabwe. The study recommended establishment of strong and fluid communication channels between university libraries and academic faculties as this would result in effective induction processes that would enhance the awareness of peer reviewed electronic journals by academics. Universities were urged to review the information they were giving to academics to determine its relevancy and adequacy in generating in-depth awareness of electronic journals. Universities were also urged to employ more personalised marketing and promotion strategies to augment the broad based strategies they were using. The use of social media in promotion was also emphasised. Top administrators of universities were encouraged to take a leading role in encouraging use of electronic journals. University libraries were urged to review the model they use to subscribe to peer reviewed electronic journals and embrace one that enables more access to full text electronic journal articles and facilitate participation of academics in selection of resources. Universities were urged to eliminate all forms of barriers that militate against the use of electronic journals by academics and institute continuous training programmes to improve the skills of users. Universities were also encouraged to increase research funding as this had the effect of improving usage of peer reviewed electronic journals.