Policies & Guidelines

Editorial Policies

As transparency, objectivity, integrity, and ethical conduct are crucial in the research process, the SAJOT adheres to and applies strict policies to minimize apparent ethical misconduct and malpractice.

The following standards of expected ethical behaviour apply to all parties involved in the publication of the South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, including the editorial team, authors, peer reviewers and related parties. These standards are based on the Committee of Publication Ethics' (COPE) Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors.

Open Access
The SAJOT provides immediate  and free open access to its content to readers on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

Copyright and Licensing
The SAJOT is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License [CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0]. 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 only if the author(s) and original place of publication are properly cited. 

Copyright of all published material is retained by the SAJOT.

Archiving Policy and Preservation
All material published on the SAJOT website are digitally preserved using Portico, a recognised leader in the preservation of scholarly literature published in electronic form. Published material is also archived with the PKP Preservation Network (PN) which provides free preservation services for any OJS journal that meets a few basic criteria. A copy of each published issue of SAJOT is submitted to the National Library of South Africa

Repository (Self-archiving) Policy
As SAJOT is an open access journal authors agree to make their article publicly available according to the terms of the CC BY license: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Authors who have published under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license may share and distribute their article on non-commercial websites and institutional repositories.

Peer Review Policy
Peer review is an essential part of maintaining substantial standards in publishing and facilitates the best possible scientific, novel information from potential authors and researchers globally. Peer reviews assist the editor in making editorial decisions, and through editorial and anonymous communications with the author, reviewers may also assist the author in improving the manuscript.

All submissions (excluding guest editorials, position papers and letters to the editor) are subject to a double-blind peer review process by two independent reviewers to ensure originality, quality, timeliness, relevance, and readability.

Peer reviewers assigned to review an article shall:

- Timeously indicate their willingness/inability to undertake and complete the review within the stipulated time;
- Keep all privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review confidential and not use it for personal advantage;
- Submit objective comments on the article that do not include personal criticism of the author nor the content, and they should provide supporting arguments and provide constructive feedback;
- Declare any possible conflicts of interest, in which case the review request will be cancelled, and the manuscript will be reassigned;
- Ensure anonymity and objectivity in their report; and
- Familiarise themselves with the Journal's "Guide to Reviewing an Article" before completing the review.

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends that authorship should be based on the following four criteria:

- Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; 
- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; 
- Final approval of the version to be published; and
- Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

All those designated as authors should meet ALL four the above criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged.

By these criteria, acquisition of funding alone, collection of data alone, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship. Also, each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.

The contributions of each author should be clearly stated on submission as part of the metadata and will be included in the article once it is published.

Authorship requires the capacity to endorse the final version of the work and consent to its submission.  Authors are also responsible for confirming the orininality of their work, verifying that the list authors qualify for authorship, and ensuring that the work does not infringe upon the rights of third parties.

Authors of inter-cultural research are encouraged to consider appropriate attribution and recognition for traditional knowledge, to the extent that this attribution does not compromise any agreed assurances of anonymity. This may include citation of indigenous sources (such as people or community groups) or other cultural sources of knowledge by name within the text.

In cases where authorship is questioned, contact will first be established with the corresponding author and, if necessary, with all authors. In cases of an impasse, the authors' affiliation institutions or funding agencies will be contacted.

Publication by Editorial Staff
SAJOT will consider a limited number of original papers from editors and members of the Editorial Board under the following conditions to ensure a fair and just peer review:

- Editors and editorial team members are excluded from publication decisions when they are authors or have contributed to a manuscript;
- An independent editor will manage the peer review process to ensure a blind review; and
- A short statement explaining the process used to make the editorial decision will be included in such instances.

Conflicts of Interest
Editors, authors, and peer reviewers should disclose interests that might appear to affect their ability to present or review work objectively. These might include relevant financial interests (for example, patent ownership, stock ownership, consultancies, or speaker's fees), or personal, political, or religious interests. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors definition of conflicts of interest is as follows:

"A conflict of interest exists when professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such as patients' welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain). Perceptions of conflict of interest are as important as actual conflicts of interest."
Strict policies preventing people with conflicts of interest from publishing might encourage authors to conceal relevant interests and might therefore be counterproductive. To prevent this, the following measures are applied:

- Journal editors, board members, and staff who are involved with decisions about publication are required to declare their interests and affiliations. Full disclosure of how conflicts of interest have been managed for specific articles will be provided where indicated.
- All relevant conflicts of interest of authors will be published. If authors state that there are no conflicts of interest, confirmation to this effect will be published. If there is doubt. the editor will ask for greater disclosure.
- An invitation to review a manuscript is accompanied by a request for the reviewer to reveal any conflicts of interest and the peer reviewer is asked to recuse themselves when these are relevant.

Privacy and Security Policy
In accordance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) which came into effect on 1 July 2021, the names and contact details entered in this journal site will be used exclusively for the stated purposes of this journal and will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party. The Editorial team are committed to protecting the privacy of all other users when processing personal and confidential information.

Originality and Plagiarism
In order to promote the predominance of originality of the texts, all submissions to SAJOT should include a similarity index report for duplicity verification with already published texts. Such a report must be submitted as part of the metadata. When there is doubt or questioning, the Editor-in-Chief will contact the corresponding author and, if necessary, all the authors. If duplicity is proven, the authors' affiliation and funding institutions will be contacted.

Authors are expected to cooperate fully with any investigation initiated by the editorial team.  Upon request, authors must provide relevant supporting evidencee to verify the authenticity and accuracy of the data and results presented in their manuscript.

In cases where editors or reviewers identify excess self-citing by authors and/or the SAJOT, the issue should be discussed to support the decision-making and resolve the issue.

Multiple, Redundant or Concurrent Publication
An author may not publish manuscripts describing essentially the same research in more than one journal or primary publication. Submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently will constitute unethical and unacceptable publishing practice. If a manuscript under review appears in substantially the same form as an article published elsewhere, it is the editor's prerogative to remove the manuscript from potential publication in the South African Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Acknowledgement of Sources
Proper acknowledgment of the work of others must always be given. Authors should cite publications that have influenced the nature of the reported work. Information obtained privately, as in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, must be accompanied by explicit, written permission from the source. Information obtained in the course of confidential services, such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications, must be accompanied by the written permission of the author of the work involved in these services.

AI Policy

The SAJOT acknowledges the benefits and opportunities of AI and large language models (LLMs) tools in the publishing environment, but advocates for the responsible use thereof.

Authors need to be aware of the limitations and biases of these tools, and will remain fully responsible for the scientific integrity of their submissions as well as any breach in publication ethics and copyright infringements.

The SAJOT’s AI Policy is informed by the guidelines on Publication Ethics (COPE), SciELO’s ‘Guidelines of the Use of Artificial Intelligence Tools and Resources in Research Communication’ and the South African Journal of Science ‘Use of AI and large language models Policy’.

AI use by Authors:

As authors remain fully responsible for the originality, validity and integrity of their content, AI-generated content will not be considered for publication. Any submission found to include AI content will be either declined or retracted if already published in accordance with the SAJOT’s Policy on Publication Ethics.

AI and LLMs may however, be used to edit descriptive images, revise and edit script, and seek and summarise existing literature.  The use of AI for these purposes must be declared at the time of submission in a cover letter and detailed in the Methods or Acknowledgements section.  This declaration should include the name, version and manufacturer of the tool used, and the date that it was accessed.  For example:

“Chat GPT 3.5 Version 28 August 2023, Open AI, accessed 25 October, 2024”

The “prompt” or instruction entered in the tool should also be provided, either in the Methods section or as a supplementary file to the manuscript.

The use of tools specifically for spelling and grammar checks, similarity checking and reference management is fully permitted and does not need to be disclosed.

The following policy regarding the use of AI by authors is summarised below:

Allowed (and need to be declared):

  • Conceptualisation and design of study (e.g. “Evaluate this study protocol to identify possible confounding factors”)
  • Editing, translating and summarising papers of large sections of writing (e.g. “Edit and translate the text and reduce to 500 words while preserving content, intention and clarity”)
  • Editing non-data images
  • Grammar checking, similarity checking and reference management are allowed but need NOT be acknowledged)

NOT allowed:

  • Writing any part of the manuscript (e.g. “write 2500 words on (specific topic) covering recent developments, methodologies and potential future directions”
  • Creating images
  • Modifying data images

AI use by Reviewers:

AI-generated reviews will not be considered/accepted.  Uploading any part of a manuscript into a LLM or similar tool is a violation of our Confidentiality Policy.

AI tool use by reviewers as a resource for peer review that does not violate the Confidentiality Policy must be fully disclosed on the Review Report form, clearly stating the name, version and manufacturer of the tool used as well as the prompt provided.

SAJOT recognises the dynamic nature of AI technology, and as such, this policy will be continuously monitored and updated as necessary to remain current with advancements in AI and AI-assisted technologies in the field of Occupational Therapy.

Ethical Malpractice Policy
In cases where there is any doubt or questions raised by reviewers or editorial staff, the Editor-in-Chief will contact the corresponding author and where necessary, all listed authors. Authors may be requested to provide supporting evidence of the data and results. When misconduct in any form is proven, the editor in chief will inform authors' affiliations and/or funding agencies involved in the development of the research, of how reports of suspected misconduct was received. In cases where the final decision made by the Editor-in-Chief is challenged, the matter will be referred to the Editorial Board for final decision-making.

Retraction Policy
When misconduct is proven in an already published article, all caches where the SAJOT is indexed, will be informed. In such cases, the article will remain on all databases in its retracted condition with a statement substantiating the reasons for the withdrawal duly referenced. The retraction may be partial when the identified misconduct applies to a specific part of the article without comprising the published article. A retracted article is therefore never "unpublished".

In cases where errors that do not constitute malpractice or misconduct are discovered and reported post-publication, these errors will be corrected by an errata statement which will be published immediately on receipt of such a report.