The research and actual publication have been organised by the national committees, the International Director having only a co-ordinatory role. Each national committee has its own agenda and priorities and the priorities of different national committees inevitably vary. The goals and procedures as originally conceived have been somewhat modified as the project evolved.
In the first years of the project's existence, especially between the years 1973-1986 when the project was directed by Professor John Hunwick, the stress was laid on Arabic and Ajami historical sources relating to Africa. The established policy of concentration solely on this category of sources was not appropriate for some national committees, namely the British FHA committee, which has started to place more emphasis on European historical materials.With the creation of new national committees, a shift of emphasis has become also noticeable from the pre-colonial to the colonial period. This is the case of Belgium, where the bulk of source material related to the colonial period. The reactivated Ghanaian national committee and African representatives generally wished to see more emphasis placed on oral as well as written sources. Consideration should be therefore also given to preparing a series of historical texts in African vernacular languages and of oral historical sources.

Even though a shift of emphasis has been noticeable in the past years from Arabic and Ajami sources to European historical materials, (in the UK, Belgium etc.), there remains an eminent interest among African and Africanist scholars in this category of sources. The series Arabica was revived by publishing one volume and so was the series Varia by publishing the results of the Danish project. Another volume is at press to be published in this series.

There are four categories of sources for African history awaiting publication:

I. Arabic and Ajami historical materials relating to Africa
There are huge collections of ancient manuscripts in many African countries. The Centre de Documentation et de Recherches Historiques Ahmad Baba (CEDRAB, now IHERI-AB) in Timbuktu, Mali contains some 14,000 Arabic manuscripts (a five volume handlist of the first 9,000 items has been published by the Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation). One of the largest private libraries in Timbuktu, the Mamma Haidara Memorial Library houses over 6,000 volumes of manuscripts that the Haidara family has been collecting since the 16th century. The library rivals the Ahmad Baba Centre for the sheer volume of ancient material it holds. To this day, there remain about 60 private collections, ancient reminders of Timbuktu's once golden past as a centre of Islamic learning. Another important centre in Mali is Djenne. Many manuscripts are in private hands, kept by marabout families. There are huge collections of Arabic manuscripts in other African countries as well, along the so-called Ink Road stretching from Senegal in the west to the Red Sea and along the East African Swahili Coast, in ancient centres of Islamic learning. The interest in their preservation and conservation is on the increase.

II. Oral historical Sources
Much research has been done in many African countries and many projects are still in progress, in Ghana (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon), Senegal (Centre de Recherche Ouest-Africaine, l'IFAN Cheikh Anta Diop), Cameroun (Université de Yaoundé & Université de Ngaoundéré), Mali (Institut des Sciences Humaines, Départmement Histoire-Archéologie). The CERDOTOLA (Centre Régional de Recherche et de Documentation sur les Traditions Orales et pour le Développement des Langues Africaines), integrates all countries of the sub-region (Central Africa): Angola, Burundi, Cameroun, Congo, Gabon, Guinée Equatoriale, République Centre-Africaine, République Démocratique du Congo, Rwanda, São Tomé et Principe, Tchad. It was founded in 1979 and its seat is in Yaoundé.
There are some collections of oral traditions ready for publication. ACALAN, Académie africaine des Langues supports such initiatives.

III. Interconnected is another category of sources, the corpus of historical texts in African or European languages written in Latin script or in an African script Tifinah, Vai, Ethiopic script, by Africans themselves. Often they are recordings of local historical traditions.

IV. European source materials related to pre-colonial and colonial periods.