Guidelines for Reviewers

The South African Journal of Science is committed to publishing high-quality content timeously. We value the contributions of Reviewers who assist us to achieve that goal and trust you will find the following guidelines helpful.

Purpose and approach

Reviewers are invited for their scholarly expertise on the topic of the manuscript. The Associate Editor requires an expert opinion on the quality and suitability of the manuscript for the SAJS and also to give feedback to authors that will help them to improve their work.

The peer-review process is double blind, that is, both the authors and the reviewers remain anonymous to each other.

Please be collegial in your report, both in purpose and tone.

Identify weaknesses, but also be constructive and have in mind how the manuscript might be improved for possible publication.

Identify strong points and valuable research findings.

Online report

Reviewer reports must be completed online in the prescribed manner. The form is accessible via the link in the confirmation email received after accepting an invitation to review.

Conflicts of interest

Reviewers must report any potential or actual conflict of interest to the Associate Editor before a review is accepted and any that arise during the review process need to be noted on the online review form. A conflict of interest does not necessarily invalidate the review report.

(Examples of potential conflicts of interest include submissions by family members or students and those for which reviewers are able to discern the identity of the authors.)

Conflicts of interest policy

Confidentiality

Reviewers must respect the confidentiality of the review process as well as the proprietary rights of the authors.

Confidentiality applies to all correspondence. Do not use, copy, share or discuss any part of the manuscript, during or after the review process. Any outside collaboration or consultation on the review needs the permission of the Associate Editor. Such collaboration or consultation is also confidential.

Confidentiality policy

Criteria for evaluation

Some criteria will be addressed through the Questionnaire section of the online review form, while other criteria should be addressed in the Comments section, either to the authors or to the Associate Editor.

The important criteria are:

Scope

  • Are the topic and language appropriate for the scope and readership of the Journal?

Content

  • Assess whether the manuscript is novel and adds significant information.
  • Advise whether the title, points of significance and abstract are appropriate and representative of the content.
  • Assess whether the literature review is up to date and whether all relevant work has been included and acknowledged.
  • Scrutinise the methods and results in terms of consistency, interpretability and reproducibility.
  • Identify gaps that could or should be filled to enhance the interpretability and strength of the findings and/or insights.
  • Contest conclusions not justified by the results or arguments presented.
  • Advise whether the number of references is appropriate and their selection judicious.

Presentation

Assess and, if applicable, suggest improvements, regarding:

  • style and clarity of language
  • focus
  • length, with respect to conciseness and avoidance of repetition
  • number, format and relevance of figures and tables
  • structure, including relevance and division of supplementary material

Scientific conduct

  • Assess the proper citation and referencing of previously published studies, including the critical issue of the originality of the manuscript.
  • Explain any judgements and offer support for any claim that work has been previously reported.
  • Identify any obvious conflicts of interest.
  • Confirm that authors have provided an explicit statement of approval by an institutional ethics committee for original studies that involve human subjects and non-human vertebrates.

Final recommendation and comments

Please provide clear, consistent and useful recommendations to the Associate Editor. One or two comments only are not sufficient to explain to the Associate Editor or the authors the grounds on which the final recommendation is made to accept, decline or request revisions. The comments provided for both the author(s) and Associate Editor should support the recommendation.

The final decision lies with the Associate Editor who will evaluate at least two reports before making the decision.

Recommendations (and final decision) may be any one of the following:

  • Accept: Reviewers have noted that only minor editorial changes are needed. After review by the Associate Editor and correction the manuscript will be published.
  • Request Revisions: Minor revisions that require the author/s’ attention. The revisions will be reviewed by the Associate Editor before being a final decision.
  • Resubmit for Review: Many manuscripts can be improved by major revisions that need to be scrutinised by peer reviewers. These revisions should be generally restricted to rewriting, clarifying, performing further analyses and providing more detail. This recommendation should not be employed to soften or delay what will inevitably be declined.
  • Decline: Reasons to decline include: major methodological or interpretational problems; lack of novelty; and inappropriateness for the Journal’s scope or readership. Major weaknesses are unlikely to be fixable and should warrant the manuscript being declined.

Confidential comments, if applicable, should be communicated to the Associate Editor through an online discussion.

Reviewers may be asked to reassess a revised manuscript.

Enquiries and feedback

For general enquiries on the review process or technical support please contact the Online Publishing Systems Administrator. Please contact the Associate Editor for specific enquiries on the manuscript.

Feedback is also welcome.