The rigour of a peer review system ensures the quality of a research article. The African Journal of Health Sciences and Technology (AJHST) employs a rigorous peer review system. All submitted manuscripts undergo a peer review process before publication.
Double Blind Peer Review
The review process is the most important aspect of the publication process of an article. It enables authors to improve their manuscripts and aids editors in making decision on manuscripts. The journal employs a double-blind peer review system. A double-blind peer review system is an anonymous review system whereby the identity of the author(s) of a manuscript is concealed from the selected reviewers. All details that may enable a reviewer to identify the author(s) of a manuscript are removed from the manuscript before the manuscript is sent to the reviewer. Similarly, the reviewers’ identities are also concealed from the author(s) when sending the reviewers’ comments to the author(s). The journal considers the double-blind peer system as a more effective review system because it limits possible bias from either the selected reviewers or from authors.
The Peer Review Process
The journal employs a three-stage review process – editorial office, external review and editors’ decision. The first stage of the review process takes place in the editorial office. On submission, a manuscript is reviewed to ensure that it meets the minimum requirements of the journal before it is sent to external reviewers. At this stage, the manuscript is reviewed for the following:
Possible plagiarism: The manuscript is evaluated to compare the level of similarity with other published works. The journal uses iThenticate plagiarism detection system to achieve this goal. Manuscripts that have high level of similarity with other works (including the author(s) previous works) are rejected at this stage. Authors are provided with the similarity report together with the decision to reject the manuscript. Academic Journals is a member of SimilarityCheck. Similarity Check powered by iThenticate is an initiative of CrossRef to help its members to prevent plagiarism.
Scope: After a manuscript has undergone similarity check and the level of similarity is judged to be appropriate, the content of the manuscript is checked to ensure that it fits within the scope of the journal selected by the author(s). In situations where the content of the manuscript does not fit the scope of the journal, the author’s consent is sought for the manuscript to be transferred to a more suitable journal. A transferred manuscript does not automatically translate to an accepted manuscript in the receiving journal. The manuscript still undergoes the usual peer review and may be accepted or rejected if it is not suitable.
Recent references: The journal encourage authors to cite more recent articles. Preferably, considerable number of the cited articles should be works that were published within the last five years.
English Language: The journal currently publishes full text of articles only in English language. Abstracts may be translated to other languages and published alongside the English language abstract. The manuscript is checked for the structure, organization, correctness and clarity of the language as it adheres to the journal's Instructions for Authors. The editorial office usually makes correction to minor grammatical errors in such a manner that it does not alter the manuscript. However, in situations where language is substantially difficult to comprehend, the manuscript is returned to the author to improve clarity of the language. Manuscripts that fail in this first stage of the review process are returned to the author(s) for modification and resubmission. This first stage of the review is very important as it enables the author(s) to improve the manuscript at an early stage.
Once a manuscript successfully completes the editorial office review process, it proceeds to the second stage. The second stage of the review process employs the double-blind review system. A minimum of two external reviewers are selected from our database, editorial board of the journal or other sources. These reviewers have expert knowledge of the subject area of the manuscript. The reviewers are invited to review the manuscript by sending them the abstract of the manuscript. Upon acceptance to review the manuscript, the full text of the manuscript is sent to the reviewers after the author(s) have been concealed.
Reviewers are required to evaluate the manuscripts and provide useful comments to enable the author(s) to improve the quality of the manuscript. Reviewers also score the manuscript in terms of originality, contribution to the field, technical quality, clarity of presentation and depth of research. Finally, reviewers make one of the following suggestions about the manuscript:
• Requires minor corrections
• Requires moderate revision
• Requires major revision
• Not suitable for further processing. In this case, the reviewer provides specific reason(s) why the manuscript not be further processed.
It should be noted that though a reviewer may give a positive report on a particular manuscript, if another reviewer raises concerns that may fundamentally undermine the study and results the manuscript may be rejected. Upon receipt of the reviewers’ comments, the editorial office reviews the comment. If the two reviewers’ comment have significantly different/or contradictory opinions about the same manuscripts, the manuscript is re-sent to a third reviewer. All reviewers’ comments (including the third reviewers’ comment where necessary) are thereafter sent to the author(s). The reviewers’ identities are concealed from the author(s). The total time taken to complete the second stage of the manuscript review is dependent on the availability of the reviewers.
Using the reviewers’ comments, author(s) can make corrections to the manuscript and submit(s) a revised manuscript. Upon receipt of the revised submission, the manuscript undergoes the third and final stage of the review process. The original manuscript, the revised manuscript and all the reviewers’ comments are sent to an editor of the journal. The editor reviews the manuscript and makes one the following decisions:
• Accept as it is
• Accept with minor correction
• Requires major corrections
• Send revised manuscript for review again
Manuscripts that are accepted as it is are scheduled for publication. Manuscripts that require corrections (either minor or major) are sent to the author(s) to effect the corrections suggested by the editor. After effecting the corrections, the editor reviews the manuscripts again before the manuscripts are accepted for publication. In some cases, the editor may require authors to make corrections a second time. In other cases, the editor may request for the revised manuscripts with (or without) the additional corrections to be sent to a specific reviewer who had earlier reviewed the manuscript before the manuscript can be accepted for publication.