ISSN 0038-2353 printed version
ISSN 1996-7489 online version



Scope and editorial policy

The South African Journal of Science accepts articles from any source on the understanding that they are the original work of the authors named and that they are being offered only to the South African Journal of Science.

Various kinds and categories of article are welcome. (Please consult a recent issue of the journal for examples.) Research communications are of three kinds: Research Letters, Research Articles, and Review Articles. Research Letters are shorter reports (normally no longer than 1 500–2 000 words) and should be up–to–date accounts of interesting and noteworthy scientific developments. Although these reports may be concerned with very particular advances, they should be of wider–than–specialist interest. Research Articles are longer papers (normally no more than 6 000 words in length). Here the criteria of intelligibility and wider interest are strictly applied. Review Articles (up to 6 000 words long) should be up–to–date surveys of important current developments in science. Preference is given to concise, reader–friendly submissions.


Form and preparation of manuscripts

This set of guidelines and supplementary documentation is available here

Submission of manuscripts for consideration: Manuscripts should be submitted online at Please ensure that you have complied with the guidelines and completed the publishing agreement (available from the login page) before you submit. Submissions that are incomplete or do not comply with the instructions will be returned.

Pre–submission enquiries: If you wish to enquire whether your submission might be suitable for consideration by the South African Journal of Science, please email the editorial office at All pre–submission enquiries must include a summary and a cover letter outlining the article's interest to a broad scientific readership.

Readability: As the journal has a multidisciplinary focus, authors are requested to write their manuscripts in a manner and style that is intelligible to specialists and non–specialists alike. Articles are judged by reviewers at the discretion of the editors. Contributions should therefore be written clearly and simply so that they are accessible to readers in other disciplines and to readers for whom English is not a first language. Note: Please use UK spelling and not US spelling. If in doubt, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.  

Format of compulsory cover letter: The cover letter should indicate briefly the significance of the work being reported. State the full name, title, affiliation and contact details (postal address, email, telephone and cell number) of each author. Please identify the author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
Include a paragraph briefly summarising the nature of the contribution made by each of the authors listed, along the lines of the following:
Author contributions: J.K. was the project leader, L.M.N. and A.B. were responsible for experimental and project design. L.M.N. performed most of the experiments. P.R. made conceptual contributions and S.T., U.V. and C.D. performed some of the experiments. S.M. and V.C. prepared the samples and calculations were performed by C.S., J.K. and U.V. wrote the manuscript.
Authors will be required to provide the names and full contact details (including email) of three potential reviewers to evaluate the work (reviewers should not be people with whom the researcher has recently collaborated or published).

Title, summary and keywords page: The article's full title should contain a maximum of 95 characters (including spaces). Five keywords should be provided. Articles and letters should begin with a fully referenced summary paragraph of up to 250 words, aimed at readers in other disciplines. This paragraph should start with 2–3 sentences that provide an introduction to the field and the particular problem being investigated. This should be followed by a one–sentence statement of the authors' main findings (or conclusions, in the case of a review paper); and a further 2–3 sentences placing these findings/conclusions in a general context so that readers are made aware of what the implications of these findings are.

Ethical guidelines: Submissions involving research conducted on human or nonhuman vertebrates should meet the highest standards regarding both the ethical consideration given and reporting of the procedures followed. Full details are necessary so that a non–specialist reader can appreciate the need for the research undertaken.
All reported research involving humans or other animals should be approved prior to commencement of the study by an institutional ethics committtee. The name of the approving body and a reference number (if provided) should be included in the Methods section of the manuscript.
In addition, all manuscripts describing research involving human subjects, tissue or data should also indicate that informed consent was obtained and that the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki were adhered to. All manuscripts describing research involving non–human animals should also indicate that the ARRIVE guidelines for reporting in vivo animal experiments were adhered to. Proper reporting should include the number, sex and health status of the individuals used, as well as full details of anaesthesia and surgical procedures. The Declaration fo Helsinki and ARRIVE guidelines are also available from Manuscripts failing to adhere to these instructions will not be considered for publication.

Acknowledgements: If you received any significant help in conceiving, designing, or carrying out the work, or received materials from someone who did you a favour by supplying them, you must acknowledge their assistance and the service or material provided. Authors always acknowledge outside reviewers of their drafts and any sources of funding that supported the research.

References: The reference list should begin on a separate page and include no more than 60 references. The South African Journal of Science uses the Vancouver referencing style, details of which can be downloaded from the journal website at No other style will be permitted.
Key points include:

  • A superscript number should be assigned in numerical order to each reference as it is cited in the text.
  • Sources should be listed numerically at the end of the article, in the same order that they were cited in text.
  • Book and Journal titles are not italicised or placed in quotation marks.
  • Abbreviate page numbers to p. (eg p. 12−25).
  • Only first words of titles and words that normally begin with a capital letter are capitalised.
  • Journal titles are abbreviated according to the official ISSN abbreviations.
  • If a source has more than 6 authors, list the first 6 authors followed by et al.
  • If the journal has continuous page numbering, you may omit the month/ issue number.

General specifications of manuscripts

Format of text: Manuscripts should be typed in Times New Roman font, 12 point size with one and a half line spacing. Please save manuscripts for upload in .DOC (not .DOCX) format. Please ensure authors' names and affiliations and any acknowledgements are omitted to facilitate the double–blind review process.

Unique fonts: If these are necessary, they should be embedded in the .DOC file in order to ensure they display correctly in the HTML version.

Layout: Start each paragraph at the margin (no tabs to indent first line). Include a line space between paragraphs to separate.

Heading style: First level headings: (Boldface, normal case, centred, on a separate line, 14pt).
Second level headings: (Boldface, normal case, justified at left margin, on a separate line, 14pt).
Third level headings: (Boldface, normal case, justified at left margin, on a separate line, 12pt).

Quotations in the text: Single quotation marks are used for all quotations; to highlight a quote within a quote, please use double quotations marks. If citations are longer than 30 words, please do not use single quotation marks; rather indent the citation and italicise it.

Tables and figures: There should be no more than 10 figures and tables in total per article. All captions should be provided together on a separate page. Figures should be provided as high–resolution images in TIF format (avoid GIF or compressed formats). Excel files should be uploaded as individual sheets, not the entire workbook.

Equations: Use English Equation Editor if you have equations in your manuscript; other versions will not convert correctly.

Acronyms: If a phrase with an established acronym or abbreviation is used, and appears more than five times in your article, please include the acronym/abbreviation in brackets after first mention of the phrase, then use the acronym/abbreviation only. Please note that you should not define acronyms or abbreviations in any of your headings. If either has been used in your abstract, you need to define them again on their first use within the main text.

Units: The use of units should conform to the SI convention and be abbreviated accordingly. Metric units and their international symbols are used throughout, as is the decimal point (not the decimal comma), and the 24–hour clock.

Spacing and punctuation: There should be one space (not two) between sentences; one space before unit terms (e.g. 5 kg, 5 cm, 5 mmol, 5 days, 5 °C); but no space before %.
Thousands/millions are marked with a space, not a comma, from 10 000 (e.g. 10 000, 1 000 000 but 1000). Ranges are expressed with an extended hyphen, not with a short hyphen (e.g. 1990–2000).

Dates: Dates are written in the following style: 12 July 1908.

Permission: Permission should be obtained from the author and publisher for the use of quotations, illustrations, tables and other materials taken from previously published works that are not in the public domain. The author is responsible for the payment of any copyright fee(s) if these have not been waived. The letters of permission should accompany the manuscript. The original source(s) should be mentioned in the figure legend or as a footnote to the table.

Proofs: Authors can provide feedback on the publication process of their manuscript, at two stages:

  1. After copy–editing of the Word document
  2. On the PDF proof after layout

Revisions and corrections must be received promptly (within 48 hours) to avoid delays in publication. Substantial changes made at PDF proof stage will be charged to the author.
Strict adherence to these guidelines will expedite the publication process.


Manuscript submission

Submissions and correspondence: All submissions must be made online at
Authors can track the progress of their manuscripts online. Other enquiries regarding manuscripts should be sent to
Ensure that the article ID [reference] number is included in the subject of your email correspondence.


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