Submissions

Online Submissions

Already have a Username/Password for Strengthening Health Systems?
Go to Login

Need a Username/Password?
Go to Registration

Registration and login are required to submit items online and to check the status of current submissions.

 

Author Guidelines

Author Guidelines

 

Please view the Author Tutorial for guidance on how to submit on Editorial Manager. 

 

To submit a manuscript, please proceed to the SHS Editorial Manager website: 

www.editorialmanager.com/shs

 

To access and submit an article already in production, please see the guidelines here.

 

Author Guidelines

Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the policies and processes below. If you still have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask our editorial staff (tel.: +27 (0)21 532 1281, email: shs@hmpg.co.za).

 

Authorship

Named authors must consent to publication. Authorship should be based on: (i) substantial contribution to conceptualisation, design, analysis and interpretation of data; (ii) drafting or critical revision of important scientific content; or (iii) approval of the version to be published. These conditions must all be met (uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals; refer to www.icmje.org)

 

If authors’ names are added or deleted after submission of an article, or the order of the names is changed, all authors must agree to this in writing.

 

Please note that co-authors will be requested to verify their contribution upon submission. Non-verification may lead to delays in the processing of submissions.

 

Author contributions should be listed/described in the manuscript.

Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest can derive from any kind of relationship or association that may influence authors’ or reviewers’ opinions about the subject matter of a paper. The existence of a conflict – whether actual, perceived or potential – does not preclude publication of an article. However, we aim to ensure that, in such cases, readers have all the information they need to enable them to make an informed assessment about a publication’s message and conclusions. We require that both authors and reviewers declare all sources of support for their research, any personal or financial relationships (including honoraria, speaking fees, gifts received, etc) with relevant individuals or organisations connected to the topic of the paper, and any association with a product or subject that may constitute a real, perceived or potential conflict of interest. If you are unsure whether a specific relationship constitutes a conflict, please contact the editorial team for advice. If a conflict remains undisclosed and is later brought to the attention of the editorial team, it will be considered a serious issue prompting an investigation with the possibility of retraction.

 

Research ethics committee approval

Authors must provide evidence of Research Ethics Committee approval of the research where relevant. Ensure the correct, full ethics committee name and reference number is included in the manuscript.

If the study was carried out using data from provincial healthcare facilities, or required active data collection through facility visits or staff interviews, approval should be sought from the relevant provincial authorities. For South African authors, please refer to the guidelines for submission to the National Health Research Database. Research involving human subjects must be conducted according to the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki. Please refer to the National Department of Health’s guideline on Ethics in Health research: principles, processes and structuresto ensure that the appropriate requirements for conducting research have been met, and that the HPCSA’s General Ethical Guidelines for Health Researchershave been adhered to.

 

 

Protection of rights to privacy

Patient

Information that would enable identification of individual patients should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, and pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) has given informed written consent for publication and distribution. We further recommend that the published article is disseminated not only to the involved researchers but also to the patients/participants from whom the data was drawn. Refer to Protection of Research Participants.The signed consent form should be submitted with the manuscript to enable verification by the editorial team.

 

Other individuals

Any individual who is identifiable in an image must provide written agreement that the image may be used in that context in the SHS.

 

Copyright notice

Copyright remains in the Author’s name. The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial Works License. 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[forthcoming].

 

Material submitted for publication in the SHS is accepted provided it has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. Please inform the editorial team if the main findings of your paper have been presented at a conference and published in abstract form, to avoid copyright infringement. The SHS does not hold itself responsible for statements made by the authors.

Previously published images

If an image/figure has been previously published, permission to reproduce or alter it must be obtained by the authors from the original publisher and the figure legend must give full credit to the original source. This credit should be accompanied by a letter indicating that permission to reproduce the image has been granted to the author/s. This letter should be uploaded as a supplementary file during submission.

 

Privacy statement

The SHS is committed to protecting the privacy of its website and submission system users. The names, personal particulars and email addresses entered in the website or submission system will not be made available to third parties without the user’s permission or due process. By registering to use the website or submission system, users consent to receive communication from the SHSor its publisher HMPG on matters relating to the journal or associated publications. Queries with regard to privacy may be directed to publishing@hmpg.co.za.

 

Ethnic/race classification

Use of racial or ethnicity classifications in research is fraught with problems. If you choose to use a research design that involves classification of participants based on race or ethnicity, or discuss issues with reference to such classifications, please ensure that you include a detailed rationale for doing so, ensure that the categories you describe are carefully defined, and that socioeconomic, cultural and lifestyle variables that may underlie perceived racial disparities are appropriately controlled for. Please also clearly specify whether race or ethnicity is classified as reported by the patient (self-identifying) or as perceived by the investigators. Please note that is not appropriate to use self-reported or investigator-assigned racial or ethnic categories for genetic studies.

 

 

Manuscript preparation

Preparing an article for anonymous review

 

To ensure a fair and unbiased review process, all submissions are to include an anonymised version of the manuscript.The exceptions to this are Correspondence articles.

 

Submitting a manuscript that needs additional blinding can slow down your review process, so please be sure to follow these simple guidelines as much as possible:

  • An anonymous version should not contain any author, affiliation or particular institutional details that will enable identification.
  • Please remove title page, acknowledgements,contact details, funding grants to a named person, and anyrunning headers of author names.
  • Mask self-citations by referring to your own work in third person.

 

 

General article format/layout

Accepted manuscripts that are not in the correct format specified in these guidelines will be returned to the author(s) for correction, which will delay publication.

 

General:

  • Manuscripts must be written in UK English.
  • The manuscript must be in Microsoft Word or RTF document format. Text must be single-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font, and contain no unnecessary formatting (such as text in boxes).
  • Please make your article concise, even if it is below the word limit.
  • Qualifications, full affiliation (department, school/faculty, institution, city, country) and contact details of ALL authors must be provided in the manuscript and in the online submission process.
  • Abbreviations should be spelt out when first used and thereafter used consistently, e.g. 'intravenous (IV)' or 'Department of Health (DoH)'.
  • Scientific measurements must be expressed in SI units except: blood pressure (mmHg) and haemoglobin (g/dL).
  • Litresis denoted with an uppercase Le.g. 'mL' for millilitres).
  • Units should be preceded by a space (except for % and ºC), e.g. '40 kg' and '20 cm' but '50%' and '19ºC'.
  • Please be sure to insert proper symbols e.g. µ not u for micro, a not a for alpha, b not B for beta, etc.
  • Numbers should be written as grouped per thousand-units, i.e. 4 000, 22 160.
  • Quotes should be placed in single quotation marks: i.e. The respondent stated: '...'
  • Round brackets (parentheses) should be used, as opposed to square brackets, which are reserved for denoting concentrations or insertions in direct quotes.
  • Ifyouwishmaterialtobeinabox,simplyindicatethisinthetext.Youmayusethetableformat –thisistheonlyexception.PleaseDONOTusefill,formatlinesandsoon.

 

 

Original Articles

Guideline word limit: 3 000 words

 

The core content of the journal is original scientific reports and discussion papers on practices of public health, preventive and community medicine that would strengthen health systems,capture the most significant field-based innovations and lessons, and build an interactive cohesive community of academics and service providers. 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, the Journal 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.

 

The article should as far as possible contain the following sections: introduction, methods, results, discussion and conclusion, and should include a structured abstract (see below). The introduction should be concise – no more than three paragraphs – on the background to the research question, and must include references to other relevant published studies that clearly lay out the rationale for conducting the study. Some common reasons for conducting a study are: to fill a gap in the literature, a logical extension of previous work, or to answer an important clinical question. If other papers related to the same study have been published previously, please make sure to refer to them specifically. Describe the study methods in as much detail as possible so that others would be able to replicate the study should they need to. Results should describe the study sample as well as the findings from the study itself, but all interpretation of findings must be kept in the discussion section, which should consider primary outcomes first before any secondary or tertiary findings or post-hoc analyses. The conclusion should briefly summarise the main message of the paper and provide recommendations for further study.

 

Select figures and tables for your paper carefully and sparingly. Use only those figures that provided added value to the paper, over and above what is written in the text.

Do not replicate data in tables and in text.

 

Structured abstract

  • This should be 250-400 words, with the following recommended headings:
    • Background: why the study is being done and how it relates to other published work.
    • Objectives: what the study intends to find out
    • Methods: must include study design, number of participants, description of the intervention, primary and secondary outcomes, any specific analyses that were done on the data.
    • Results: first sentence must be brief population and sample description; outline the results according to the methods described. Primary outcomes must be described first, even if they are not the most significant findings of the study.
    • Conclusion: must be supported by the data, include recommendations for further study/actions.
    • Please ensure that the structured abstract is complete, accurate and clear and has been approved by all authors.
    • Do not include any references in the abstracts.

 

 

Hereis an example of a good abstract.

 

Main article

All articles are to include the following main sections: Introduction/Background, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions.

The following are additional heading or section options that may appear within these:

  • Objectives (within Introduction/Background): a clear statement of the main aim of the study and the major hypothesis tested or research question posed
  • Design (within Methods): including factors such as prospective, randomisation, blinding, placebo control, case control, crossover, criterion standards for diagnostic tests, etc.
  • Setting (within Methods):level of care, e.g. primary, secondary, number of participating centres.
  • Participants (instead of patients or subjects; within Methods): numbers entering and completing the study, sex, age and any other biological, behavioural, social or cultural factors (e.g. smoking status, socioeconomic group, educational attainment, co-existing disease indicators, etc)that may have an impact on the study results. Clearly define how participants were enrolled, and describe selection and exclusion criteria.
  • Interventions (within Methods): what, how, when and for how long. Typically for randomised controlled trials, crossover trials, and before and after studies.
  • Main outcome measures (within Methods): those as planned in the protocol, and those ultimatelymeasured. Explain differences, if any.

 

Results

  • Start with description of the population and sample. Include key characteristics of comparison groups.
  • Main results with (for quantitative studies) 95% confidence intervals and, where appropriate, the exact level of statistical significance and the number need to treat/harm. Whenever possible, state absolute rather than relative risks.
  • Do not replicate data in tables and in text.
  • If presenting mean and standard deviations, specify this clearly. Our house style is to present this as follows:
  • E.g.: The mean (SD) birth weight was 2 500 (1 210) g. Do not use the ± symbol for mean (SD).
  • Leave interpretation to the Discussion section. The Results section should just report the findings as per the Methods section.

 

Discussion

Please ensure that the discussion is concise and follows this overall structure – sub-headings are not needed:

  • Statement of principal findings
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the study
  • Contribution to the body of knowledge
  • Strengths and weaknesses in relation to other studies
  • The meaning of the study – e.g. what this study means to clinicians and policymakers
  • Unanswered questions and recommendations for future research

 

Conclusions

This may be the only section readers look at, therefore write it carefully. Include primary conclusions and their implications, suggesting areas for further research if appropriate. Do not go beyond the data in the article.

 

Comments

Guideline word limit: 1 500 words

 

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. Pre-submission enquiry is strongly advised. This section also provides an opportunity for masters and doctoral students to publish findings from their Masters and Doctoral theses.

 

  • May include 1 illustration or table.
  • A  max of  10 references

 

Forum

Guideline word limit: 1 200 words

 

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 health outcomes. 

 

  • May include 1 illustration or table.
  • A  max of  10 references

 

Educational articles

Guideline word limit: 1 500 words

 

These articles will focus on, for example, issues related to the use of programmatic and operational data, trends in impact analysis and evaluations. This will also provide an opportunity for masters and doctoral students to create a forum for addressing challenges with their training and education.

 

  • May include 1 illustration or table.
  • A  max of  10 references

 

Correspondence (Letters to the Editor)

Guideline word limit: 500 words

 

Letters to the editor should relate either to a paper or article published by the SHS or to a topical issue of particular relevance to the journal’s readership

 

  • May include only one illustration or table
  • Must include a correspondence address.

 

 

Illustrations/photos/scans

  • If illustrations submitted have been published elsewhere, the author(s) should provide consent to republication obtained from the copyright holder.
  • Figures must be numbered in Arabic numerals and referred to in the text e.g. '(Fig. 1)'.
  • Each figure must have a caption/legend: Fig. 1. Description (any abbreviations in full).
  • All images must be of high enough resolution/quality for print.
  • All illustrations (graphs, diagrams, charts, etc.) must be in PDF form.
  • Ensure all graph axes are labelled appropriately, with a heading/description and units (as necessary) indicated. Do not include decimal places if not necessary e.g. 0; 1.0; 2.0; 3.0; 4.0 etc.
  • Scans/photos showing a specific feature e.g. Intermediate magnification micrograph of a low malignant potential (LMP) mucinous ovarian tumour. (H&E stain). –include an arrow to show the tumour.
  • Each image must be attached individually as a 'supplementary file' upon submission (not solely embedded in the accompanying manuscript) and named Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc.

 

Tables

  • Tables should be constructed carefully and simply for intelligible data representation. Unnecessarily complicated tables are strongly discouraged.
  • Embed/include each table in the manuscript Word file - do not provide separately as supplementary files.
  • Number each table in Arabic numerals (Table 1, Table 2, etc.) and refer to consecutively in the text.
  • Tables must be cell-based (i.e. not constructed with text boxes or tabs) and editable.
  • Ensure each table has a concise title and column headings, and include units where necessary.
  • Footnotes must be indicated with consecutive use of the following symbols: * † ‡ § ¶ || then ** †† ‡‡ etc.

 

Do not: Use [Enter] within a row to make ‘new rows’:

 

Rather:

Each row of data must have its own proper row:

 

Do not: use separate columns for n and %:

 

Rather:

Combine into one column, n (%):

 

Do not: have overlapping categories, e.g.:

 

Rather:

Use <> symbols or numbers that don’t overlap:

 

 

References

NB: Only complete, correctly formatted reference lists in Vancouver style will be accepted.Reference lists must be generated manually and not with the use of reference manager software. Endnotes must not be used.

  • Authors must verify references from original sources.
  • Citations should be inserted in the text as superscript numbers between square brackets, e.g. These regulations are endorsed by the World Health Organization,[2] and others.[3,4-6]
  • All references should be listed at the end of the article in numerical order of appearance in the Vancouver style (not alphabetical order).
  • Approved abbreviations of journal titles must be used; see the List of Journals in Index Medicus.
  • Names and initials of all authors should be given; if there are more than six authors, the first three names should be given followed by et al.
  • Volume and issue numbers should be given.
  • First and last page, in full, should be given e.g.: 1215-1217 not 1215-17.
  • Wherever possible, references must be accompanied by a digital object identifier (DOI) link). Authors are encouraged to use the DOI lookup service offered by CrossRef:
    • On the Crossref homepage, paste the article title into the ‘Metadata search’ box.
    • Look for the correct, matching article in the list of results.
    • Click Actions > Cite
    • Alongside 'url =' copy the URL between { }.
    • Provide as follows, e.g.: https://doi.org/10.7196/07294.937.98x

 

Some examples:

  • Journal references: Price NC, Jacobs NN, Roberts DA, et al. Importance of asking about glaucoma. Stat Med 1998;289(1):350-355. DOI:10.1000/hgjr.182
  • Book references:Jeffcoate N. Principles of Gynaecology. 4th ed. London: Butterworth, 1975:96-101.
  • Chapter/section in a book: Weinstein L, Swartz MN. Pathogenic Properties of Invading Microorganisms. In: Sodeman WA, Sodeman WA, eds. Pathologic Physiology: Mechanisms of Disease. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1974:457-472.
  • Internet references: World Health Organization. The World Health Report 2002 - Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva: WHO, 2002. http://www.who.int/whr/2002 (accessed 16 January 2010).
  • Legal references
  • Government Gazettes:

National Department of Health, South Africa. National Policy for Health Act, 1990 (Act No. 116 of 1990). Free primary health care services. Government Gazette No. 17507:1514. 1996.

In this example, 17507 is the Gazette Number. This is followed by :1514 - this is the notice number in this Gazette.

  • Provincial Gazettes:

Gauteng Province, South Africa; Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Environment and Land Affairs. Publication of the Gauteng health care waste management draft regulations. Gauteng Provincial Gazette No. 373:3003, 2003.

  • Acts:

South Africa. National Health Act No. 61 of 2003.

  • Regulations to an Act:

South Africa. National Health Act of 2003. Regulations: Rendering of clinical forensic medicine services. Government Gazette No. 35099, 2012. (Published under Government Notice R176).

  • Bills:

South Africa. Traditional Health Practitioners Bill, No. B66B-2003, 2006.

  • Green/white papers:

South Africa. Department of Health Green Paper: National Health Insurance in South Africa. 2011.

  • Case law:

Rex v Jopp and Another 1949 (4) SA 11 (N)

Rex v Jopp and Another:  Name of the parties concerned

1949: Date of decision (or when the case was heard)

(4): Volume number

SA: SA Law Reports

11: Page or section number

(N): In this case Natal - where the case was heard. Similarly, (C) woud indicate Cape, (G) Gauteng, and so on.

NOTE: no . after the v

  • Other references (e.g. reports) should follow the same format: Author(s). Title. Publisher place: Publisher name, year; pages.
  • Cited manuscripts that have been accepted but not yet published can be included as references followed by '(in press)'.
  • Unpublished observations and personal communications in the text must not appear in the reference list. The full name of the source person must be provided for personal communications e.g. '...(Prof. Michael Jones, personal communication)'.

 

From submission to acceptance

Submission and peer-review

To submit an article:

  • Please ensure that you have prepared your manuscript in line with the SHS requirements.
  • All submissions should be submitted via Editorial Manager
  • The followingare required for your submission to be complete:
    • Anonymous manuscript (unless otherwise stated)
    • Author Agreement form [forthcoming]
    • Manuscript
    • Any supplementary files: figures, datasets, patient consent form, permissions for published images, etc.
    • Once the submission has been successfully processed on Editorial Manager, it will undergo a technical check by the Editorial Office before it will be assigned to an editor who will handle the review process. If the author guidelines have not been appropriately followed, the manuscript may be sent back to the author for correcting.

 

 

Article Processing Charges

There is currently no article-processing charge (APC), also known as page fees, for the publication of manuscripts. 

Please refer to the section on ‘Sponsored Supplements’ regarding the publication of supplements, where a charge is currently applicable. Queries can be directed to Dianes@hmpg.co.za or Claudian@hmpg.co.za

 

Production process

The following process should usually take between 4 - 6 weeks:

  1. An accepted manuscript is passed to a Managing Editor to assign to a copyeditor (CE).
  2. The CE copyedits in Word, working on house style, format, spelling/grammar/punctuation, sense and consistency, and preparation for typesetting.
  3. If the CE has an author queries, he/she will contact the corresponding author and send them the copyedited Word doc, asking them to solve the queries by means of track changes or comment boxes.
  4. The authors are typically asked to respond within 1-3 days. Any comments/changes must be clearly indicated e.g. by means of track changes. Do not work in the original manuscript - work in the copyedited file sent to you and make your changes clear.
  5. The CE will finalise the article and then it will be typeset.
  6. Once typeset, the CE will send a PDF of the file to the authors to complete their final check, while simultaneously sending to the 2nd-eye proofreader.
  7. The authors are typically asked to complete their final check and sign-off within 1-2 days. No major additional changes can be accommodated at this point.
  8. The CE implements the authors’ and proofreader’s mark-ups, finalises the file, and prepares it for the upcoming issue.

 

Changing contact details or authorship

Please notify the Editorial Department of any contact detail changes, including email, to facilitate communication.

 

 

Errata and retractions

Errata

Should you become aware of an error or inaccuracy in yours or someone else’s contribution after it has been published, please inform us as soon as possible via an email to publishing@hmpg.co.za,including the following details:

  • Journal, volume and issue in which published
  • Article title and authors
  • Description of error and details of where it appears in the published article
  • Full detail of proposed correction and rationale

 

We will investigate the issue and provide feedback. If appropriate, we will correct the web version immediately, and will publish anerratumin the next issue. All investigations will be conducted in accordance with guidelines provided by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

 

Retractions

Retraction of an article is the prerogative of either the original authors or the editorial team of HMPG. Should you wish to withdraw your article before publication, we need a signed statement from all the authors.

 

Should you wish to retract your published article, all authors have to agree in writing before publication of the retraction.

Send an email to publishing@hmpg.co.za, including the following details:

  • Journal, volume and issue to which article was submitted/in which article was published
  • Article title and authors
  • Description of reason for withdrawal/retraction.

 

We will make a decision on a case-by-case basis upon review by the editorial committee in line with international best practices. Comprehensive feedback will be communicated with the authors with regard to the process. In case where there is any suspected fraud or professional misconduct, we will follow due process as recommended by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and in liaison with any relevant institutions.

 

When a retraction is published, it will be linked to the original article.

 

 Sponsored supplements

Contact claudian@hmpg.co.za for information on submitting ad hoc/commissioned supplements, including guidelines, conference/congress abstracts, Festschrifts, etc.

 

 

Submission Preparation Checklist

As part of the submission process, authors are required to check off their submission's compliance with all of the following items, and submissions may be returned to authors that do not adhere to these guidelines.

  1. Named authors consent to publication and meet the requirements of authorship as set out by the journal.
  2. The submission has not been previously published, nor is it before another journal for consideration.
  3. The text complies with the stylistic and bibliographic requirements in Author Guidelines.
  4. The manuscript is in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) format. The text is single-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font, and contains no unnecessary formatting.
  5. Illustrations/figures are high resolution/quality (not compressed) and in pfdf format. These must be submitted individually as 'supplementary files' (not solely embedded in the manuscript).
  6. For illustrations/figures or tables that have been published elsewhere, the author has obtained written consent to republication from the copyright holder.
  7. Where possible, references are accompanied by a digital object identifier (DOI) and PubMed ID (PMID)/PubMed Central ID (PMCID).
  8. An abstract has been included where applicable.
  9. The research was approved by a Research Ethics Committee (if applicable)
  10. Any conflict of interest (or competing interest) is indicated by the author(s).
 

Copyright Notice

Copyright of published material remains in the Authors’ name. This allows authors to use their work for their own non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from the Publisher, subject to properly acknowledging the Journal as the original place of publication.

 Authors are free to copy, print and distribute their articles, in full or in part, for teaching activities, and to deposit or include their work in their own personal or institutional database or on-line website. Authors are requested to inform the Journal/Publishers of their desire/intention to include their work in a thesis or dissertation or to republish their work in any derivative form (but not for commercial use). 

 Material submitted for publication in the SHS is accepted provided it has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. Please inform the editorial team if the main findings of your paper have been presented at a conference and published in abstract form, to avoid copyright infringement.

 

Privacy Statement

SHS Journal is committed to protecting the privacy of the users of this journal website. The names, personal particulars and email addresses entered in this website will be used only for the stated purposes of this journal and will not be made available to third parties without the user’s permission or due process. Users consent to receive communication from the SHS Journal for the stated purposes of the journal. Queries with regard to privacy may be directed to publishing@hmpg.co.za.

 



Strengthening Health Systems Journal | © 2014 Health & Medical Publishing Group 

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