Editorial Policies

Focus and Scope

Southern African Journal of Publich Health incorporating Strengthening Health Systems invites submissions that:

  • Promote greater understanding of health systems in all contexts
  • Highlight interventions that work and those that do not
  • Identify lessons that future policy makers and programme designers can learn from, and
  • Highlight knowledge gaps that will refine the health system research agenda.

The core content of the journal is original scientific reports and discussion papers on successes and failures in health system strengthening interventions worldwide, with a focus on identifying lessons that future programme designers and policy makers can learn from, and knowledge gaps to be filled through academic study. In recognition of the fact that success or failure depends on many external factors that may be unrelated to the technical aspects of project design, SAJPH will publish analyses of the political, social, cultural and economic environment of health systems interventions to further understanding of what works and what does not in specific contexts. Shorter comment articles on issues of controversy or debate in any area of health systems science or intervention are also welcome.

Educational articles focusing on, for example, issues related to the use of programmatic and operational data, trends in impact analysis and evaluations, and appropriate indicators of health system strengthening, will be commissioned by the editorial team with guidance from the International Advisory Board.

The journal also intends to be a forum for debate about how best to apply the conventions of scientific investigation to health and development challenges; how to report on health systems interventions in ways that are useful for all prospective audiences; and to facilitate consensus-building on the tools and techniques that practitioners can use to improve the rigor of the field. 


Section Policies


Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed


Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed


Comment: 1 000 words, 10 references, one figure or table. Pre-submission enquiry strongly advised.

Comment articles are editorial-style pieces that present an argument or discuss a topical development in the field. They should be concise and tightly written articles with a clear point. Links to current events, publications, conferences, or announcements are encouraged. Comment articles can be a maximum of 1200 words with 10 references and one image or table. Pre-submission enquiry is strongly advised. These articles will be reviewed internally but only sent for external peer review if the editor deems it necessary.

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed


Checked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed


Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed


Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Public health

Unchecked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed


Unchecked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed

CPD questionnaire

Unchecked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed

Peer Review Process

A copy of the guidelines for reviewers may be downloaded here. Email the editorial team directly at submissions@hmpg.co.za for assistance.

SAJPH is actively engaged in addressing the 5/95 health systems publications gap - a term coined by the WHO-based Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research to describe the imbalance between the numbers of publications on health systems from developing and developed countries, respectively. This policy means the journal will provide thorough feedback to all prospective authors who submit pre-submission enquiries or full papers, and support non-academic authors to apply the conventions of scientific reporting. If the paper is not of sufficient quality and interest for peer review, the feedback will be from the editorial team alone. For those papers that meet the journal's content guidelines and quality standards, external reviewers' opinions will be sought to support the editorial decision-making process.

The peer-review process

SAJPH uses a double-blind peer review process which means that both the reviewer and author identities are concealed from each other throughout the review process.

The editorial team will request two-three reviews for every paper: one expert technical review; one reviewer with knowledge of the country or context that is the subject of the paper; and one methodological review. Depending on the type of paper, there may be additional needs for statistical or ethical opinions and these will be sought at the discretion of the Editor.

The editors are under no obligation to accept the judgements of a reviewer, or to send all comments to authors in cases where the editors feel the reviewers’ comments are contrary to the aims of the journal. However, all relevant and appropriate reviewers' reports will be sent to authors along with the publication decision: accept, accept with minor revision, major revision, or reject. All authors will recieve a detailed justification for the publication decision.

If invited to submit a revised version of the paper, authors are required to address all reviewers' comments or to submit a justification for those that are ignored. Occasionally, a reviewer maybe asked to look at the revised version of a paper for which they had provided substantial comments on the original version.

Selection of reviewers

Reviewers are selected from the journal’s contacts, and from searches of bibliographic databases for the most relevant experts in the field. Efforts will be made to identify at least one person who is familiar with the country or context of the work described to ensure that opinions are obtained on the appropriateness for the situation as well as the technical details.

How long does the review process take?

The entire process of peer review and revision of the paper has a target timeline of 6 weeks to 2 months.

Appealing a publication decision

In cases where authors strongly disagree with the decision of the editorial team to reject their paper, an appeal can be lodged with the Editor. The appeal will be referred to the Editor in Chief of the Health and Medical Publishing Group, who will review the editorial decision-making process and provide feedback to both editors and authors on the outcome. 

Becoming a reviewer for SHS

If you would like to be added to the journal's roster of reviewers please contact the Editor, Prof Debashis Basu (Debashis.Basu@up.ac.za), with your name, contact details and keywords describing your areas of expertise and country experience.

Technical assistance: Peer Review

Enrol as a reviewer

The SAJPH encourages readers who are actively involved in research and with particular expertise to serve as peer reviewers of the journal:

  • Already a registered user? Login to the journal website and edit your profile to include 'Reviewer' as a role. Kindly express your interest to serve as a reviewer in an email to submissions@hmpg.co.za, specifying your user login.
  • Not a registered user? Reviewers are required to register with the journal website. Kindly also express your interest to serve as a reviewer in an email to Debashis.Basu@up.ac.za. Please read our privacy policy regarding registration.


Accepting/declining an invitation to review

An invitation to review will be sent via email from the Editorial Manager system, and will provide submission details such as the manuscript title and abstract. Reviewers will be asked to indicate their acceptance/decline to review by a specified date, and a date by which the review should be completed will also be provided. Reviewers can respond to the invite either by clicking on the relevant link in the email or by logging in to their Reviewer role on the SHS Editorial Manager website, where they will see that they have a pending New Reviewer Invitation. Reviewers who accept the invite to review can access the full text article, by logging into Editorial Manager or via the link to the reviewers’ ‘pending assignments’ found in the automated acknowledgement email (received in response to the their acceptance to review). The article will be blinded and in PDF format. Once completed, reviewers will submit their review and recommendation on the Editorial Manager website.

Any queries can be directed to the Managing Editor: claudian@hmpg.co.za  


Performing/submitting a review

As a reviewer, you will be advising the editors who will make the final decision on a manuscript. The reviewer should provide feedback on all components of the article, including the methodology, results and discussion. The review should conclude with a recommendation: accept, accept with minor revisions, major revisions needed, or reject. Please refer to the Reviewer Guidelines which provides further guidance on completing reviews.


A tutorial on how to complete your review on Editorial Manager can be found here.


To complete a review:

  • Login to the SAJPH/SHS Editorial Manager website in the Reviewer role.
  • Ensure that you have accepted to perform the review (outlined above). Manuscripts that you have accepted to review will be located in your 'Pending Assignments' folder.
  • Click on 'View Submission' to access the PDF version of the manuscript.
  • Reviewer Guidelines can be viewed by clicking 'Submit Recommendation'. They can also be accessed here: Reviewer Guidelines
  • Reviewers can record their comments in a separate Word file or the original PDF (if they have the necessary Adobe software) that they can upload on the 'Submit Recommendation' page or complete the reviewer questions on the aforementioned webpage.
  • All reviewers are required to complete three questions on the 'Submit Recommendation' webpage in order to submit their recommendation. Once reviewers have completed and submitted their reviews and recommendation, they can inform the handling editor by clicking 'Send Email'. An acknowledgement email will also be received by the reviewer once the review has been successfully processed on the website.


Should reviewers require additional time to review or further assistance, please contact the Managing Editor: claudian@hmpg.co.za



Publication Frequency

Southern African Journal of PUblich Health incorporating Strengthening Health Systems is published quarterly.


Open Access Policy

Southern African Journal of Public Health incorporating Strengthening Health Systems incorporating is an Open Access Journal and provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. In accordance with the definition of the Budapest Open Access Initiative all content published by the SAJPH/SHS is made free to users without any subscription or other charges. Users are permitted to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of these articles, or use them for any other lawful, non-commercial purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author.



This journal utilises the LOCKSS system to create a distributed archiving system among participating libraries and permits those libraries to create permanent archives of the journal for purposes of preservation and restoration. More...


Comments Policy

The posting of comments to published articles requires registration with this journal website. Only constructive comments that relate to the published material will be permitted. Posted comments solely represent the opinions of the respective user and not those of the SAJPH/SHS, and do not imply endorsement by the SAJPH/SHS. The SAJPH/SHS reserves the right to remove comments without notice that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, contain advertising or spam, or violate another user’s privacy. The SAJPH/SHS reserves the right to revoke the privileges of users that post inappropriate material. Such material may be brought to the attention of the publisher (publishing@hmpg.co.za). The SAJPH/SHS reserves the right to modify this policy without notice.



Plagiarism policy


A definition of plagiarism is included in the Guidelines to Authors and authors are referred to this policy for the consequences of an offence of this nature. All cases of suspected or alleged plagiarism will be considered seriously and on an individual basis.


(Definition of plagiarism: Plagiarism is when you use someone else’s work (book, article, website, etc.) or idea without acknowledging them as the source, whether it be copied verbatim or paraphrased.

Self plagiarism is the re-use of one’s previously published work without citing the original publication.   

Manuscripts submitted online will be screened for potential plagiarism before peer review using similarity detection software. All cases of suspected or alleged plagiarism are considered very seriously in accordance with each journal’s Plagiarism Policy.)


All manuscripts submitted for consideration for publication will be scanned for potential plagiarism using iThenticate before undergoing peer review to verify their originality. Similarity reports will be reviewed individually. 


Submitted manuscripts

  • Suspected plagiarism in a submitted manuscript can be brought to the attention of the journal editor either through the similarity report of the plagiarism detection scan or through a reviewer of the manuscript.
  • When a similarity report is indicative of potential plagiarism, the report and manuscript will be examined by the journal editor to determine whether or not material has been plagiarised and, if so, the extent of the plagiarism. When plagiarism is supected, the journal editor will contact the author(s), showing evidence either from iThenticate similarity checks or from a reviewer.
  • If material has been plagiarised, the corresponding author will be informed by the journal editor that the manuscript is rejected on these grounds.
  • If the extent of the plagiarism is minor and journal editor determines that the author/s did not intend to plagiarise, no further action will be taken. If the plagiarism is extensive or admitted to, the author/s’ institution/s and funding bodies will be informed of the offence (the submitted and plagiarised material will be sent to them) by the journal editor. Authors will be notified that their institution/s will be informed and that they will be banned from submitting to the (enter journal name here) in the future.
  • The reader or reviewer reporting the suspected plagiarism will be informed of the outcome of the investigation.


Published articles

  • When suspected plagiarism is reported to the Editorial Office, the report will be acknowledged and all relevant documentation/evidence will be retrieved and examined by the journal editor to determine whether or not material has been plagiarised and, if so, the extent of the plagiarism.
  • If material has been plagiarised, the corresponding author will be informed by the journal editor and questioned.
  • If the extent of the plagiarism is minor and the journal editor determines that the author/s did not intend to plagiarise, a statement indicating the plagiarised material and appropriate reference will be published online and the article online will be linked to the statement and vice versa.
  • If the plagiarism is extensive or admitted to, the article will be retracted (see Article Retraction Policy) and a statement published acknowledging the original author/s.
  • The author/s’ institution/s and funding bodies will be informed of the offence (submitted and plagiarised material will be sent to them) by the journal editor. Authors will be notified that the relevant institution/s will be informed and that they will be banned from submitting to the (enter journal here) in the future.
  • The original author/s and publisher will also be informed of the offence.
  • The reader or Reviewer reporting the suspected plagiarism will be informed of the outcome of the investigation.


Article retraction policy


Published articles should remain extant and intact. However, under exceptional circumstances involving plagiarism (see Plagiarism Policy) and redundant publication or data error, articles may need to be retracted, removed or replaced in order to protect the integrity of the literature. The need for a retraction will be determined by the journal editor, but may be initiated, in cases of flawed data or conclusions, at the request of the author/s.


To retract an article, a notice of retraction will be published in the next issue. This notice of retraction will:

  • include the title and authors of the article, the reason for the retraction and who is retracting the article
  • be linked to the article online.



Publication fees

No charges apply upon article submission. Similarly, no charges apply upon publication (article processing charges).

Additional services are available to prospective authors, including: protocol reviews; writing support; and full submission-to-publication support. Click here for further information. 


Licensing Information

The SAJPH/SHS is published under an Attribution-Non Commercial International Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY-NC 4.0) License. Under this license, authors agree to make articles available to users, without permission or fees, for any lawful, non-commercial purpose. Users may read, copy, or re-use published content as long as the author and original place of publication are properly cited. 


Publishing Rights

Authors grant the Publisher the exclusive right to publish, display, reproduce and/or distribute the Work in print and electronic format and in any medium known or hereafter developed, including for commercial use. The Author also agrees that the Publisher may retain in print or electronic format more than one copy of the Work for the purpose of preservation, security and back-up.

 Authors are required to complete and sign an Author Agreement form that outlines Author and Publisher rights and terms of publication. The Agreement form should be uploaded along with other submissions files and any submission will be considered incomplete without it. In undertaking this agreement, the Author represents, and warrants, either as the sole author or on behalf of the co-authors, that the Work is their own work and that the Author has the authority to enter into the Author-Publisher Agreement.

Southern African Journal of Public Health | © 2014 Health & Medical Publishing Group 

This journal is protected by a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial Works License (CC BY-NC 4.0)