Peer review

Original Research Articles, Case Reports and Review Articles are subject to peer review. Although invited articles, editorials and letters to the editor are not typically peer-reviewed, the Editor-in-Chief may solicit an external review at his discretion. The peer review process involves the following:

  • All manuscripts undergo an initial assessment by the Editorial Office to ensure that they comply with the Instructions to Authors and the Journal Policies.
  • The Editor-in Chief then screens the submission to ascertain if it complies with the Criteria for Publication (see Scope)
  • The Editor-in-Chief then assigns the manuscript to a Section Editor depending on the subject matter.
  • The Editor-in-chief or the Section Editors can at this stage advise on one of the following:
    • Reject the manuscript
    • Reject and recommend major revision prior to resubmission
    • Send out the manuscript for peer-review
  • Should the section editor recommend ‘Reject’ or ‘Reject and resubmit’, a brief outline of the reasons for rejection should be provided to the authors.
  • If a manuscript is deemed suitable for review by the Section Editor, a minimum of two reviewers will be appointed.
  • Reviewers will be given two weeks to respond to the request to review.
  • Reviewers are given six weeks to submit a report. At least two reports are required to make a decision. The review process is double blind, that is, both authors’ and reviewers’ identities are concealed.
  • Once two reports have been received, the Section Editor will make one of the following recommendations:
    • Send out for additional peer-review (In case of conflicting peer-review reports. Please provide name and email address of potential additional peer-reviewer/s), or
    • Reject, or
    • Major revisions required (Revised manuscript needs to be sent back to the original peer-reviewers for review and final decision), or
    • Minor revisions required (Revised manuscript can be approved by you as the Section Editor alone), or
    • Accept as is.
  • Reviewers are required to declare any conflict of interest, where applicable.
  • Reviewed articles should be treated confidentially prior to publication.
  • If reviewers’ recommendations diverge, the Section Editor can arbitrate the recommendation or refer the manuscript to a third reviewer.
  • Once the final decision has been reached the Section Editor’s report will be forwarded to the Editor-in-Chief, who will make the final decision, based on the section editor’s synthesis, on whether to accept or reject the manuscript
  • The Section Editor Report report will also be sent to all reviewers, in order for them to benchmark their review and self-assess their performance.
  • The decision letter is then sent to the authors.
  • Authors are given 30 days to revise a manuscript needing minor revisions and 60 days to revise a manuscript needing major revisions. Section Editors then make a decision on minor revisions and refer major revisions back to reviewers for their recommendations before making a decision.
  • Correspondence regarding editorial decisions will be communicated to the authors by the editorial office
  • Authors can appeal a decision in writing to the Editor-in-Chief.
  • Authors can appeal a decision in writing to the Editor-in-Chief.

Open access policy

  • The main benefit of open access publication is the high visibility of your work. All articles are made freely available online for everyone, immediately upon publication.
  • All articles published by the SA Orthopaedic Journalare made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication, without subscription charges or registration barriers.
  • As authors of articles published in SA Orthopaedic Journalyou are the copyright holders of your article and have granted to any third party, in advance and in perpetuity, the right to use, reproduce or disseminate your article, in accordance with our copyright and licensing policy.
  • Unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium is permitted, provided the author/editor is properly attributed.

Copyright and licensing

Ownership of content (Copyright policy) 

  • Authors of articles published in the SA Orthopaedic Journal retain the copyright of their articles without any restrictions.
  • Authors retain publishing rights and are free to reproduce and disseminate their work.
  • Authors requiring a variation of this policy should inform the Journal during the submission of their article.

 Reproduction of articles and content (Licensing policy)

  • All content is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC BY 4.0).
  • This license facilitates open access by allowing free immediate access to, and unrestricted reuse of, original work.
  • This licencing policy is in terms of all articles or content and all versions of such content. This includes figures, tables and images.
  • Under this license, authors agree to make articles legally available for reuse, without permission or fees.
  • Anyone may copy, distribute or reuse these articles, as long as the author and original source are properly cited.
  • No permission is required from the authors or the publishers to reuse or repurpose journal content provided the original article is cited. Simply citing the original article can provide appropriate attribution.
  • Example citation: Nieuwoudt L, Ferreira N, Marais LC. Short-term results of grade II open tibia fractures treated with circular fixators. SA Orthop J 2016,15(3):20-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2309-8309/2016/v15n3a2

Ethics policy

The SAOJ is committed to maintaining the highest level of integrity in the content published. Work that is submitted to SAOJ should be in accordance with the principles laid down by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the Responsible research publication position statements as developed at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity in Singapore 2010. Available from: http://publicationethics.org/resources/international-standards-for-editors-and-authors

[Wager E & Kleinert S (2011) Responsible research publication position statements. Chapter 49 in: Mayer T & Steneck N (eds) Promoting Research Integrity in a Global Environment. Imperial College Press / World Scientific Publishing, Singapore (pp 305-7). (ISBN 978-981-4340-97-7)].

As described in the position statement on responsible research publication

(2nd World Conference on Research Integrity, Singapore, 2010) researchers and authors are expected to meet the following international standards:

Soundness and reliability 

  • The research being reported should have been conducted in an ethical and responsible manner and follow all relevant legislation. [See also the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity, www.singaporestatement.org]
  • The research being reported should be sound and carefully executed.
  • Researchers should use appropriate methods of data analysis and display (and, if needed, seek and follow specialist advice on this).
  • Authors should take collective responsibility for their work and for the content of their publications. Researchers should check their publications carefully at all stages to ensure methods and findings are reported accurately. Authors should carefully check calculations, data presentations, typescripts/submissions and proofs.


  • Researchers should present their results honestly and without fabrication, falsification or inappropriate data manipulation. Research images (e.g. micrographs, X-rays, pictures of electrophoresis gels) should not be modified in a misleading way.
  • Researchers should strive to describe their methods and to present their findings clearly and unambiguously. Researchers should follow applicable reporting guidelines. Publications should provide sufficient detail to permit experiments to be repeated by other researchers.
  • Reports of research should be complete. They should not omit inconvenient, inconsistent or inexplicable findings or results that do not support the authors’ or sponsors’ hypothesis or interpretation.
  • Research funders and sponsors should not be able to veto publication of findings that do not favour their product or position.
  • Researchers should not enter agreements that permit the research sponsor to veto or control the publication of the findings (unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as research classified by governments because of security implications).
  • Authors should alert the editor promptly if they discover an error in any submitted, accepted or published work. Authors should cooperate with editors in issuing corrections or retractions when required.
  • Authors should represent the work of others accurately in citations and quotations.
  • Authors should not copy references from other publications if they have not read the cited work.


  • New findings should be presented in the context of previous research. The work of others should be fairly represented. Scholarly reviews and syntheses of existing research should be complete, balanced, and should include findings regardless of whether they support the hypothesis or interpretation being proposed. Editorials or opinion pieces presenting a single viewpoint or argument should be clearly distinguished from scholarly reviews.
  • Study limitations should be addressed in publications.


  • Authors should adhere to publication requirements that submitted work is original and has not been published elsewhere in any language. Work should not be submitted concurrently to more than one publication unless the editors have agreed to co-publication. If articles are co-published this fact should be made clear to readers.
  • Applicable copyright laws and conventions should be followed. Copyright material (e.g. tables, figures or extensive quotations) should be reproduced only with appropriate permission and acknowledgement.
  • Relevant previous work and publications, both by other researchers and the authors’ own, should be properly acknowledged and referenced. The primary literature should be cited where possible.
  • Data, text, figures or ideas originated by other researchers should be properly acknowledged and should not be presented as if they were the authors’ own. Original wording taken directly from publications by other researchers should appear in quotation marks with the appropriate citations.
  • Authors should inform editors if findings have been published previously or if multiple reports or multiple analyses of a single data set are under consideration for publication elsewhere. Authors should provide copies of related publications or work submitted to other journals.
  • Multiple publications arising from a single research project should be clearly identified as such and the primary publication should be referenced.
  • Translations and adaptations for different audiences should be clearly identified as such, should acknowledge the original source, and should respect relevant copyright conventions and permission requirements. If in doubt, authors should seek permission from the original publisher before republishing any work.


  • All sources of research funding, including direct and indirect financial support, supply of equipment or materials, and other support (such as specialist statistical or writing assistance) should be disclosed.
  • Authors should disclose the role of the research funder(s) or sponsor (if any) in the research design, execution, analysis, interpretation and reporting.
  • Authors should disclose relevant financial and non-financial interests and relationships that might be considered likely to affect the interpretation of their findings or which editors, reviewers or readers might reasonably wish to know. This includes any relationship to the journal, for example if editors publish their own research in their own journal. In addition, authors should follow journal and institutional requirements for disclosing competing interests.

Appropriate authorship and acknowledgement

  • A publication serves as a record not only of what has been discovered but also of who made the discovery. The authorship of research publications should therefore accurately reflect individuals’ contributions to the work and its reporting.
  • In cases where major contributors are listed as authors while those who made less substantial, or purely technical, contributions to the research or to the publication are listed in the acknowledgement section, the criteria for authorship and acknowledgement should be agreed at the start of the project. Responsibility for the correct attribution of authorship lies with authors themselves working under the guidance of their institution. Research institutions should promote and uphold fair and accepted standards of authorship and acknowledgement. When required, institutions should adjudicate in authorship disputes and should ensure that due process is followed.
  • Researchers should ensure that only those individuals who meet authorship criteria (i.e. made a substantial contribution to the work) are rewarded with authorship and that deserving authors are not omitted.
  • All authors should agree to be listed and should approve the submitted and accepted versions of the publication. Any change to the author list should be approved by all authors, including any who have been removed from the list. The corresponding author should act as a point of contact between the editor and the other authors and should keep co-authors informed and involve them in major decisions about the publication (e.g. responding to reviewers’ comments).
  • Authors should not use acknowledgements misleadingly to imply a contribution or endorsement by individuals who have not, in fact, been involved with the work or given an endorsement.

Accountability and responsibility

  • All authors should have read and be familiar with the reported work and should ensure that publications follow the principles set out in these guidelines. In most cases, authors will be expected to take joint responsibility for the integrity of the research and its reporting. However, if authors take responsibility only for certain aspects of the research and its reporting, this should be specified in the publication.
  • Authors should work with the editor or publisher to correct their work promptly if errors or omissions are discovered after publication.
  • Authors should abide by relevant conventions, requirements, and regulations to make materials, reagents, software or datasets available to other researchers who request them. Authors must also follow relevant journal standards. While proper acknowledgement is expected, researchers should not demand authorship as a condition for sharing materials.
  • Authors should respond appropriately to post-publication comments and published correspondence. They should attempt to answer correspondents’ questions and supply clarification or additional details where needed.

Adherence to peer review and publication conventions

  • Authors should follow publishers’ requirements that work is not submitted to more than one publication for consideration at the same time.
  • Authors should inform the editor if they withdraw their work from review, or choose not to respond to reviewer comments after receiving a conditional acceptance.
  • Authors should respond to reviewers’ comments in a professional and timely manner.
  • Authors should respect publishers’ requests for press embargos and should not generally allow their findings to be reported in the press if they have been accepted for publication (but not yet published) in a scholarly publication. Authors and their institutions should liaise and cooperate with publishers to coordinate media activity (e.g. press releases and press conferences) around publication. Press releases should accurately reflect the work and should not include statements that go further than the research findings.

Responsible reporting of research involving humans or animals

  • Appropriate approval, licensing or registration should be obtained before the research begins and details should be provided in the report (e.g. Institutional Review Board, Research Ethics Committee approval, national licensing authorities for the use of animals).
  • If requested by editors, authors should supply evidence that reported research received the appropriate approval and was carried out ethically (e.g. copies of approvals, licences, participant consent forms).
  • Researchers should not generally publish or share identifiable individual data collected in the course of research without specific consent from the individual (or their representative). Researchers should remember that the journal is now freely available on the internet, and should therefore be mindful of the risk of causing danger or upset to unintended readers (e.g. research participants or their families who recognise themselves from case studies, descriptions, images or pedigrees).
  • The appropriate statistical analyses should be determined at the start of the study and a data analysis plan for the prespecified outcomes should be prepared and followed. Secondary or post hoc analyses should be distinguished from primary analyses and those set out in the data analysis plan.
  • Researchers should publish all meaningful research results that might contribute to understanding. In particular, there is an ethical responsibility to publish the findings of all clinical trials. The publication of unsuccessful studies or experiments that reject a hypothesis may help prevent others from wasting time and resources on similar projects. If findings from small studies and those that fail to reach statistically significant results can be combined to produce more useful information (e.g. by meta-analysis) then such findings should be published.
  • Authors should supply research protocols to journal editors if requested (e.g. for clinical trials) so that reviewers and editors can compare the research report to the protocol to check that it was carried out as planned and that no relevant details have been omitted. Researchers should follow relevant requirements for clinical trial registration and should include the trial registration number in all publications arising from the trial.

Plagiarism policy

Plagiarism occurs when someone presents the work of others (data, text, or theories) as if it were his/her own without proper acknowledgment. There are different degrees of plagiarism. The severity is dependent on various factors: extent of copied material, originality of copied material, position/context/type of material and referencing/attribution of the material used. Every case is different and therefore decisions will vary per case.

Examples of possible plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

  • Verbatim copying of another’s work and submitting it as one’s own.
  • Verbatim copying of significant portions of text from a single source.
  • Mixing verbatim copied material from multiple sources (“patchwork copying”). This could range from 1 or 2 paragraphs to significant portions consisting of several paragraphs.
  • Changing key words and phrases but retaining the essential content of the source as a framework.
  • Rephrasing of the text’s original wording and/or structure and submitting it as one’s own.
  • Mixing slightly rephrased material from multiple sources and presenting what has been published already as new.
  • The work is cited, but the cited portions are not clearly identified. This can be combined with copied parts of text without citation. 

Note: For review papers the above is not directly applicable. Review papers are expected to give a summary of existing literature. Authors should use their own words with exception of properly quoted and/or cited texts and the work should include a new interpretation.

As part of SAOJ’s commitment to the protection and enhancement of the peer review process, all manuscripts deemed potentially suitable for publication will undergo a plagiarism detection process using plagiarism detection software. When a similarity report is indicative of a potential offence, the report and manuscript will be examined by the Editor-in-Chief to determine whether or not material has been plagiarised and, if so, the extent of the plagiarism.

If plagiarism is suspected, the COPE guidelines on plagiarism will be followed.

[http://publicationethics.org/files/Suspected%20plagiarism%20in%20a%20submitted%20manuscript%20%281%29.pdf ]

Duplicate submission/publication refers to the practice of submitting the same study to two journals or publishing more or less the same study in two journals. These submissions/publications can be nearly simultaneous or years later. Redundant publication (also described as ‘salami publishing’) refers to the situation that one study is split into several parts and submitted to two or more journals. Or the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification. “Self-plagiarism” is considered a form of redundant publication. It concerns recycling or borrowing content from previous work without citation. This practice is widespread and might be unintentional. Transparency by the author on the use of previously published work usually provides the necessary information to make an assessment on whether it is deliberate or unintentional.

If redundant or duplicate publication is suspected, the COPE guidelines on redundant or duplicate publication will be followed. [http://publicationethics.org/files/redundant%20publication%20A_0.pdf ]

Conflict of interest policy

A conflicting interest exists when professional judgement concerning a primary interest (such as patient’s welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain or personal rivalry). It represents a situation in which financial or other personal considerations from authors, reviewers or editors have the potential to compromise or bias professional judgment and objectivity. It may arise for the authors when they have financial interest that may influence their interpretation of their results or those of others. Examples of potential conflicts of interest include employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony, patent applications/registrations, and grants or other funding. 

A conflict of interest declaration must be submitted on the title page of each submission and should list each author separately by name, i.e.,“John Smith declares that he has no conflict of interest. Paula Taylor has received research grants from Drug Company A. Mike Schultz has received a speaker honorarium from Drug Company B and owns stock in Drug Company C.”If multiple authors declare no conflict, this can be done in one sentence.

Reviewers and/or Section Editors may also have a conflict of interest or a competing interest with regard to the subject matter of a manuscript. Such conflicts are disclosed to the handling editor and/or the Editor-in-Chief as early in the review process as possible. If warranted, a different reviewer will be reassigned to evaluate the manuscript. All SAOJ editors have disclosed any conflicts of interest to the Editor-in-Chief, who has resolved those as necessary to ensure that an editor conflict of interest does not impact the review of any manuscript submission. The Editor-in-Chief has no known conflicts of interest or competing interests and makes the final decision regarding acceptance or rejection of all manuscripts submitted.

Sources of funding must be acknowledged and disclosed at the end of the manuscript text. Authors should declare any involvement of study sponsors in the study design; collection, analysis and interpretation of data; the writing of the manuscript; the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. If the study sponsors had no such involvement, this should be stated.

If any conflict of interest should arise action shall be taken as recommended by COPE.

Article correction and retraction policy

All authors are obliged to provide retractions, clarifications or corrections of mistakes, in case of detection. In order to submit a retraction or correction please contact the Managing Editor (pat@saoj.co.za) or Journal Manager (editor@saoj.org.za).

Under exceptional circumstances involving plagiarism, redundant publication, data errors and/or flawed conclusions published articles may need to be retracted, removed or replaced in order to protect the integrity of the journal. The need for a retraction will be determined by the Editor-in-Chief, but may be initiated at the request of the author/s.

To request retraction of an article, contact the Editor-in-Chief stating title and authors of the article, the reason for the retraction and who is retracting the article. Notice of retraction will be published in the next issue and linked to the on-line version of the article.

Revenue sources and advertising policy

Advertising is the sole source of revenue for the South African Orthopaedic Journal.

All advertisements are subject to approval by the South African Orthopaedic Journal, which reserves the right to reject or cancel any ad at any time. Publication of advertisements in the SA Orthopaedic Journaldoes not imply endorsement but either the South African Orthopaedic Association or the South African Orthopaedic Journal. Advertisers and sponsors do not have advance knowledge of our specific editorial content. Content is not edited or modified in any way to accommodate advertisers. The journal does not knowingly permit advertising for a specific product in physical proximity to a specific article mentioning that product. Editorial decisions are made without influence by advertisers or sponsors.

In consideration of publication of an advertisement, the advertiser and the agency, jointly and severally, agree to indemnify and hold harmless the Publisher, the South African Orthopaedic Association and the South African Orthopaedic Journal, its officers, agents and employees against expenses (including legal fees) and losses resulting from the publication of the contents of the advertisement, including, without limitation, claims or suits for libel, violation of privacy, copyright infringement or plagiarism. All advertisements are accepted and published on the warranty of the agency and advertiser that both are authorized to publish the entire contents and subject matter of the advertisement.

Article processing charges and author fees

There are no charges for publication of articles in the South African Orthopaedic Journal.

Digital archiving and preservation

In order to ensure ongoing accessibility and long-term preservation the following measures have been implemented:

All digital journal content is stored on a secure server which is backed up frequently. In the event of a problem, the back-up will be restored within 24 hours.

  • On other sites:

Articles in digital format are archived on SciELO SA. All content within SciELO SA is digitally preserved through Portico. Portico is an international digital preservation service. The content is preserved as an archival version and is not publically accessible but can be retrieved when required under certain circumstances, such as discontinuation of the collection or catastrophic failure of the website.

In addition, all scholarly material is registered and deposited at the South African National library in accordance with the Legal Deposit Act of 1997.

  • Self-archiving:

Authors may archive the final published version of their articles in personal or institutional repositories immediately after publication.

Deposit policy

The SA Orthopaedic Journal policy is registered with the deposit policy directory SHERPA/RoMEO. and can be accessed at http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php

Language policy

Manuscripts must be written in English (British usage).