Scientific Electronic Library Online

'SciELO SA Criteria': Criteria, policy and procedures for admission and permanence of scientific journals in the South African Collection of SciELO


The highlights of the SciELO SA criteria, policies and procedures for the admission and permanence of scientific journals in the SciELO Collection as detailed in the SciELO Network criteria ( as they apply to SciELO SA at present follow. In particular, note point 3 below for the specific criteria for inclusion in and remaining in the SciELO SA collection.

  1. Introduction

  2. The SciELO South Africa Criteria in the context of the SciELO Program

    1. The six principles of the SciELO Program, as an open science instance and a global public good.
    2. The objectives of the SciELO South Africa Criteria
    3. Open access policy and alignment with open science
    4. SciELO Network criteria for admission and permanence of journals
    5. Scope of the SciELO collection
    6. Performance evaluation criteria for continuation of journals in the SciELO collection
    7. SciELO South Africa Criteria and the Open Science principles and practices
    8. SciELO South Africa criteria – evaluation of thematic areas

  3. The SciELO SA collection’s evaluation criteria for admission and of permanence of journals (procedures and criteria)

    1. Procedures for acceptance for inclusion
    2. The SciELO SA criteria

  4. The role of the SciELO SA Advisory Committee in recommending journals to be included in the SciELO SA collection

  5. Process guidelines for setting up panels, peer reviewers, panel meetings and reports for the subject peer review of journals


  1. Introduction

    This document describes the evaluation criteria, policies and procedures adopted by the SciELO Network Platform ( for inclusion of scientific journals in the SciELO SA online collection and how it aligns with open science practices.

  2. The SciELO South Africa Criteria in the context of the SciELO Program

    1. The six principles of the SciELO Program, as an open science instance and a global public good

      Operated as a global public good in the exercise of bibliographic and bibliometric indexing functions, publication, storage, and digital preservation of full-text articles and digital archives of other research communication objects, interoperability, and dissemination of journals of increasing quality and research that communicate in line with the state of the art of scholarly communication, the SciELO Program, as an open science instance, is governed by six principles:

      1. concept of scientific knowledge as a national and global public good;
      2. networking at all levels as a means of maximizing scalability in terms of cost-effectiveness in adopting the state of the art in scientific publishing, cooperation and management of asymmetries between Collections, subject areas and journals;
      3. quality control, scientific and ethical rigor, compliance with standards and good editorial practices throughout the flow of scholarly communication;
      4. Promotion of internal program innovations and alignment with mainstream scholarly communication innovations;
      5. promotion of the FAIR Principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) in all Collections; and
      6. Promotion of the DEIA Principles (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) throughout the flow of scholarly communication.

      The FAIR and DEIA principles are formalized from this edition of the SciELO Criteria. According to these six principles, the evaluation of journals is conducted by the SciELO South Africa (SA) Collection as an integral part of the cultural, geographical and organisational diversity and dynamics that characterize the set of scientific output in SA that is communicated in journals published abroad and in South Africa, on platforms of articles of continuous publishing that operate as journals and in the future with the deposit of manuscripts on preprint servers prior to submission for journal evaluation and alignment with open science practices of referencing and availability of research data and openness in the peer review process of manuscripts. The journals in the SciELO SA Collection are owned by scientific societies, professional associations, thematic research groups or networks, universities and other research and development institutions, which are scientifically and legally responsible for their publication, policies, priorities, editorial management, and participation in the SciELO SA Collection. Journals communicate basic and applied research whose results are part of the global flows and bases of information and scientific knowledge. However, SciELO SA considers the communication of research on issues of national interest as a distinguishing feature of most South African journals, in the whole of South Africa’s scientific output, which, in addition to promoting scientific progress, are essential to inform public policies, continuous education of professionals, education curricula, and cultural, social, and economic development. By extending the evaluation criteria beyond the scientific impact to the cultural, social, and economic contributions of journals, SciELO SA contributes to the promotion of the social function of science.

    2. The objectives of the SciELO South Africa Criteria

      The SciELO SA Criteria have the general objective of:

      • guiding the development of the SciELO Brazil Collection of quality journals in open science practices; and
      • serving as a reference for the development of the other Journal Collections of the SciELO Network.

      Its specific objectives are:

      1. To guide the development of the SciELO SA Collection in line with open science principles
      2. To guide for the evaluation of the performance of journals for admission into the SciELO SA Collection;
      3. To guide the systematic evaluation of the performance, availability, influence, and impact of the Collection as a whole, of the thematic areas and specifically of the journals to contribute to their improvement and permanence in the SciELO SA Collection;
      4. To contribute to a sustainable increase in the quality, use, impact, and scientific, cultural, social, and economic relevance of indexed journals, subject areas, and the Collection as a whole;
      5. To contribute to strengthening the professionalization, internationalization, operational, and financial sustainability of journals;
      6. To contribute to the advancement of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in research and its communication;
      7. To serve as a reference for the performance of other national and thematic collections of the SciELO Network, as well as journals and journal portals outside the SciELO Network;
      8. To contribute to the development of public and institutional policies for scholarly communication, as well as the strengthening of communication capacities and infrastructures in South Africa's research and education systems and their international insertion;
      9. To ensure the digital preservation of journals to ensure their future use and comply with the criteria of international indexes; and
      10. To keep the SciELO SA Criteria updated according to the advances of the SciELO Program.

    3. Open access policy and alignment with open science

      All journals and articles indexed in SciELO are published in Gold Route Open Access. The SciELO Program formalizes open access through the adoption of Creative Commons License for all journals and articles indexed in its collections. The standard license adopted by SciELO from 2015 onwards is CC-BY, which authorizes sharing and editing articles as long as the authors’ credit is ensured, as well as providing a link to the license and precise indication of the changes that have been made. The information of the type of license adopted by the journal must be included in the PDFs and XMLs sent for publication. Journals indexed before 2019 may eventually opt for CC-BY-NC assignments that do not allow commercial use and CC-BY-NC-ND that does not allow commercial use nor adaptations. Background and documentation related to Creative Commons Licenses can be obtained from or

      SciELO has been promoting the alignment of the program and journals with the communication practices of open science that advocates the opening of all the components that support the communication of research, such as methods, data and computer software. This opening aim at contributing to accelerate the publication of research, facilitate the assessment of manuscripts, the replicability of research and reutilization of collected data. In this sense, SciELO is implementing the following advances: Accelerating publication of research through continuous publishing; Accelerating publication of research through preprints, which are manuscripts ready for submission to journals that are made available in open access on the Web in preprints repositories before submission to a journal. SciELO will operate a central preprints server. Journals should specify in the Instructions to authors the criteria for accepting preprints; · Identification and recommendation of research data repositories according to subject area to guide the deposit of such data. SciELO follows the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) for qualifying data repositories; · SciELO will follow the TOP guidelines (Transparency and Openness Promotion) for qualifying articles and journals regarding citing and referencing data, methods, computer software, etc. The expectation is that SciELO indexed journals will operate in full compliance with the principles and practices of open science.

    4. SciELO Network criteria for admission and permanence of journals

      The following are the criteria applied for the evaluation of journals to define their inclusion or permanence in the SciELO Collection. (

      The contribution of journals according to acceptable minimum values and expected values.

      From 2019, the criteria will also consider the performance of sets of journals by thematic areas, as well as the whole collection, i.e., the assessment for inclusion and permanence of journals in the collection considers their contribution to the performance of the journal of the corresponding thematic area and the whole collection. In these cases, the criteria are defined by acceptable minimum values and expected values.

      The scientific contribution of articles

      Indexable journals should publish predominantly research articles, review articles or essays relevant to the subject area. Articles may be unpublished or previously posted in preprints repositories. However, duplicating (or republishing) an article already published in another journal is not allowed. Journals may also publish other types of documents other than those cited above, such as editorials, studies or case reports, and critical reviews that will not be counted as original articles for the purpose of assessment criteria.

      Types of documents

      From 2019 on, only papers which present relevant scientific content, with authorship and institutional affiliation, with title different from session title, citations and bibliographical references submitted after 2019 will be indexed, published and included in the performance metrics of the SciELO Collection journals. A journal number’s editorial or introduction of a section are optional but, when used, should convey scientific content beyond the simple list of published articles or news related to the journal or its thematic area. Likewise, only critical reviews that contribute to innovative knowledge beyond the simple summary of a work, obituaries with analysis of the work and the contribution of an honoured author with contribution of scientific content and comment letters to other articles will be accepted. Based on the above, the following types of document will be indexed, published and included in 8 SciELO performance metrics: addendum, research article, review article, letter, article comment, brief communication, fast communication, speech, discussion, editorial or introduction, interview, errata or correction, standard or guideline, obituary or record, case report, critical book review, response, retraction, partial retraction and "other" (when the document has scientific content which justifies its indexing but none of the above types apply). The following types of documents will not be indexed, published nor included in SciELO performance metrics: announcement, calendar, call, received books, news, reprint, meeting report, abstract, expanded abstract or thesis abstract, product review, thesis and translation (of article already published). All documents, without exception, must be authored with full affiliation (Institution, city, state and country) to be accepted by SciELO as specified. The SciELO Advisory Committee may request the reviewers’ assessment to verify the predominance of original contributions.

      Updating journal information pages

      The editorial management adopted by the journals indexed in SciELO must be duly informed and must comprise at least the following periodically updated information:

      About the journal.

      The journals indexed in SciELO are described by the following minimum documentation:

      • Title, online ISSN, date of creation, and previous titles, if applicable;
      • Name of the legally responsible entity or entities;
      • Statute and/or other document on institutions;
      • Financing model;
      • Mission;
      • Thematic coverage coded according to the classification adopted by SciELO, identifying first and second levels;
      • Historical summary, including the origin and main milestones of the journal’s development, with emphasis on the indexing reached;
      • Open Access publishing Creative Commons License;

      Instructions to authors.

      All journals should annually update the Instructions to authors section, including at least the following editorial policy and management characteristics:

      • Types of documents, scope and prioritization of the research that may be evaluated for publication;
      • Criteria for acceptance of preprint manuscripts;
      • Structure of texts;
      • Bibliographic standards adopted for citations and bibliographic references to other texts, research data, methods and computer software;
      • Publication guidelines and prior research records;
      • Criteria for authorship;
      • Guidelines on conflicts of interest, plagiarism and other ethical aspects;
      • Description of the assessment (peer review) procedure;
      • Copyright of the published article;
      • Submission or publication fees and exemption policy.

      The editor-in-chief should send to SciELO the updated Instructions to authors. The SciELO Advisory Committee may request clarification from the editor-in-chief on the Instructions to authors and make recommendations for their improvement, whenever necessary.

      Editorial flow / Manuscript management

      The manuscript management flow adopted by the journal should be properly documented, including the processing steps from receipt to final decision and the actors involved. Exceptions to the regular flow should also be documented, such as accelerated assessment when circumstances apply. In the case of submission of dossiers and supplements, responsibilities and editorial flow should be specified either in the editorial or in the dossier introduction.

      Composition of the Editorial Board

      The journals can adopt different structures and denominations of instances of editorial management. However, these structures and the functions they perform must be formally documented and updated periodically/annually.

      Editorial Team

      All journals must have one or more established editors, with national or foreign affiliation. The editors-in-chief are recognized national or foreign researchers in the scientific area of the journal and their institutional affiliation and updated curricula must be available online and preferably accessible by their respective ORCID. They are responsible for the development and implementation of the journal’s editorial policy and management and ultimate performance. They are responsible for meeting the SciELO indexing criteria. Also regarding the level of editorial coordination, journals may have deputy editors or associated editors. o Editorial Board or Associated Editors. Editorial management should preferably rely on one or more established groups of editors who actively and systematically collaborate with the editor-in-chief on managing the manuscript evaluation flow, with an emphasis on selection and interaction with reviewers and authors. In general, these editors, grouped under the name of associated editors or section editors, are a formal part of the editorial board and contribute systematically to the assessment of manuscripts. Under the name of associate or section editors, only researchers who systematically contribute to the evaluation of manuscripts should be listed. Ad hoc editors who collaborate in the sporadic evaluation of manuscripts, at the request of the editor-in-chief or even an associate editor, should be listed separately. A recommended option to disclose and keep the manuscript evaluating process transparent and to value the associated editors’ work is to publish their names at the beginning or end of the article. The editors (associated editors, section editors or any other denomination) are researchers with national or foreign affiliation, recognized in their own area whose updated curricula must be available online, preferably accessible by their respective ORCID iD (

      Internationalization of the Editorial Board, including honorary editors

      The journals indexed by SciELO should maximize the internationalization of the Editorial Board. They should, altogether, meet the minimum and ideally 10 recommended percentages of active associate editors with institutional foreign affiliation, according to the thematic area and for the entire collection. This checklist does not apply to journals whose editor-in-chief and assistant editors centralize responsibility for the selection of reviewers and follow-up of the evaluation processes.

      When scientists, former editors or personalities are referenced for honorary reasons or to add prestige to the journal, without, however, actively participating in editorial management, their names must be listed separately under a corresponding section that shows they do not act as managing editors evaluating manuscripts.

      Editorial Boards have the role of advising the journal's institution, the editor-in-chief and associated editors in evaluating the journal's performance, and drawing up recommendations on editorial policies, visibility and innovations for its improvement. Members of the editorial board should be recognized scientists in the scientific domain of the journal, with institutional affiliation in or abroad. Associate or section editors may serve on the editorial board or participate in its meetings. The editorial board should meet periodically, in person or online. The composition of the editorial board and their activities in the manuscript arbitration process should be recorded in the manuscript management system adopted by the journal, as indicated in the next section.

      Changes in the structure and composition of the journal's editorial management should be reported to SciELO to update the journal's page in the SciELO interface.

      Manuscript assessment

      The evaluation of manuscripts submitted to a journal indexed by SciELO or manuscripts commissioned by editors should be carried out through one or more editors and reviewers whose recommendations support the editors on decisions approving or rejecting the manuscripts. The editor-in-chief or the associated editor (or section editor) is ultimately responsible for the decisions, according to the flow adopted by the journal. The journals can adopt different processes of evaluation and denomination of the responsible instances that lead to the approval or rejection of manuscripts. However, the procedures adopted should be formally specified in the Instructions to author’s section. The arbitration process must be transparent and well documented. The author must always have access to the current status of the evaluation process of their manuscript. Approved articles must be published along with the main dates of the evaluation, editing and publication process, and the complete dates (day, month and year) of receipt and approval of the manuscript are mandatory. The SciELO controls consider the date of publication of the new articles as the date of upload in the SciELO database, when it is made available online on the SciELO website. All SciELO journals should manage and operate the evaluation of manuscripts with the support of an online management system certified by SciELO, to maximize the efficiency and transparency of the evaluation process, minimize the time between submission and the final decision, allow the parties involved to follow the evaluation process and keep records and statistics to control the flow of manuscript management. Manuscript management systems or services must meet the following minimum characteristics: - Record the data of the corresponding author and other authors, including e-mail and ORCID iD;

      The submission processes

      • Start the submission process with a checklist about the requirements that the manuscript must meet to follow in the evaluation process;
      • Register the assessment process of the manuscripts with emphasis on the recommendations by the editors and the referees;
      • Enable the author to follow online the evolution of the manuscript assessment from submission, indicating the start and end dates of each of the steps of the evaluation process;
      • Interoperate with recognized plagiarism control systems or services;
      • Interoperate with charging systems for collecting article publishing charges for journals adopting this option;
      • Provide statistics of the evaluation process, including, but not limited to, the number of manuscripts that have been received, number of rejections in the first assessment by the editor-in-chief or associate editor, number of manuscripts sent to associate editors (or section editors) for review and the final count of approved and rejected articles. The manuscript statistics should be controlled by geographical and institutional origin of the authors, language and thematic area;
      • Provide statistics on the length of the processing steps of the manuscript assessment between the receipt and the first evaluation, the interactions between the editor, associated editor (or section editors) and the authors until the final outcome;
      • These controls and statistics should be part of the journals’ annual performance report and shall be used by the Advisory Committee as one of the sources for assessing the journal’s performance. The journals should report every six months on the number of manuscripts received and processed in the previous semester.

      The Advisory Committee may request the editor-in-chief to provide clarification on the peer review procedure adopted by the journal. The average processing time of the manuscripts should be at most of 6 (six) months, considering the time frame between submission and final decision for publication, and up to 12 (twelve) months, considering the time between submission and publication of the manuscript. However, an average overall cycle of 6 (six) months is recommended. Submission of manuscripts must be available on a continuous basis, i.e., journals indexed in SciELO should not suspend the receipt of manuscripts in any period for any reason. SciELO may advise journals or consultants to improve their manuscript management processes in order to avoid withdrawal of the journal from the collection. Peer reviewers must be national and foreign researchers, recognized in their field of expertise, which shall evaluate the manuscripts. The journals indexed by SciELO should maximize the participation of foreign institution affiliated referees.

      Minimum percentage of referees with institutional foreign affiliation for all journals in each thematic area.

      Editorial production flow / Publication frequency

      The periodicity and number of articles published per year are indicators of the flow of the journal's editorial production and the scientific output of the corresponding thematic area. The reference values required by SciELO criteria depend on the thematic area in which the journal is classified. It is also an indicator related to the timing and celerity of communication. Journals should preferably publish articles continuously as soon as they are approved and edited. Articles are collected in an annual volume with or without periodic issues. When editions (numbers) are not adopted, the publication of articles should occur throughout the year. When articles are collected in journal numbers, they should be finalized preferably at the beginning of the period. For journals that do not adopt continuous publishing,

      Indexing is discontinued when a journal interrupts publishing for 6 months.

      Time of existence for admission

      The journal must have at least 4 (four) published numbers or the equivalent number of articles in continuous publishing to be considered in the evaluation process for indexing in the SciELO Collection.

      Timelessness for admission

      The publication must be on time, according to its periodicity. Journals that have not published in the last 6 months will not be considered in the evaluation process of the SciELO Collection.

      Language of titles, abstracts, keywords and text

      Articles should contain title, abstract, and keywords in the original language of the article text and in the English language, when English is not the original language. SciELO journal articles can be published in any language, with emphasis on and English, and to a lesser extent in . The SciELO model allows simultaneous publication in two or more languages. SciELO journals should maximize the number of original and review articles in English according to their thematic area.

      Proper use of the language, the quality of the translations and the use of a controlled list of keywords are considered in the evaluation.

      The use of structured abstracts according to the sections of the articles is recommended for journals of certain subject areas. The SciELO Advisory Committee will determine which journals should, according to international practice, preferably use structured abstracts.

      Authors’ affiliation

      The exhaustive record of authors' affiliations is required to follow the institutional and geographical origin of the research published by SciELO journals. Thus, all types of documents, without exception, must be authored with full specification of the institutional and geographical instances to which each author is affiliated. Each institutional instance is identified by names of up to three hierarchical or programmatic levels and by the geographical location (city, state and country) where it is located. When an author is affiliated with more than one instance, each affiliation must be identified separately. When two or more authors are affiliated with the same instance, the instance identification occurs only once. When the author does not have an institutional affiliation, the affiliation is registered indicating that he/she is an autonomous researcher, including the other elements of the geographical location. Academic instances are the most common affiliation of authors. Typical structures of academic affiliation typically combine two or three hierarchical levels, for example: department-college-university, graduate-college-university program, university-research institute, hospital-medical-University College, etc. Public and private research and development institutes, companies or foundations are also common. There are also instances that develop or participate research that are governmental organs, linked to ministries, state or municipal secretariats. Other authors may also be affiliated to national and multinational companies. There are also authors affiliated with programmatic instances or involving communities of researchers or professionals who work around a program, project or network and may have limited life span. The presentation of the affiliation should keep uniformity in all the documents and the following format is recommended:

      • The affiliations identification should be grouped just below the authors names, in different lines. Names and affiliations are related to each other by tags;
      • The identification of the institutional bodies should, where applicable, indicate the corresponding hierarchical units. It is recommended that hierarchical units be presented in descending order, for example, university, college, and department;
      • In no case should affiliations be accompanied by the authors' titles or mini-CVs. These, when present, should be published separately from the affiliations, as authors’ notes;
      • The address of the corresponding author must be presented separately and may come at the end of the article;
      • The names of institutions and programs should be presented in full in the institution's original language or in English version. See examples:
        • University of Pretoria, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, Pretoria, South Africa;
        • University of Cape Town, South African Sports Medicine Association, Research Unit for Exercise Science & Sports Medicine, Cape Town, South Africa
      • Authors' names must be accompanied by their ORCIDs
      • Endogenous journals, i.e., that publish articles by authors whose affiliations, for the most part, are from a single institution or geographic region will not be admitted into SciELO.
        The journals indexed in SciELO should maximize the internationalization of authors' affiliation

      The journal should present a received citations index and self-citations compatible with the other journals of the same thematic area. For admission, the citations in the bibliographic indexes such as Google Metrics and other indexes where the journal is indexed will be considered. For already indexed journals, the SciELO Citation Index comprising SciELO and WoS journals will be used as reference index.

      Normalization of texts, citations and bibliographic references

      The journals should specify in the Instructions to authors the rules that follow for the structuring and presentation of the texts and for the presentation and formatting of the citations and bibliographical references. The structuring of texts depends on the subject areas and types of documents. Journals should preferably follow the most common standards and practices in their respective subject areas. For citations and bibliographical references, it is recommended the rightful adoption of formally established norms as national and/or international standards and most used internationally in the thematic area of the journal. The precise adoption of bibliographic standards is essential to enable the process of marking and generating structured XML texts. Citations and bibliographical references are used when texts, methods, data, historical archives, collections and computer software are used in articles. Only the references listed at the end of the text in a well-defined section will be marked to load them into the databases for inclusion in the citation metrics. Bibliographical references appearing in footnotes and not included in the list of references at the end of the article will not be marked and will not take part in the SciELO metric system.

    5. Scope of the SciELO collection

      The SciELO SA collection includes scholarly and scientific journals featuring articles resulting from original research and other original works. As outlined above the review and approval of articles published in all these journals is carried out by peers, and is subject to authoritative editorial discretion.

      The titles in the SciELO SA collection grow as each journal is approved for inclusion in the collection and recommended by the PRPs, the Committee on Scholarly Publishing in South Africa, and the Academy Council. The articles and other works should preferably be written in English. All non-English articles must include an English translation of the title of the articles, as well as English keywords and an English abstract.

      The SciELO SA Collection is an indexer and publisher of quality journals from South Africa in open science modus operandi. To this end, it indexes, preserves, makes available, interoperates, and disseminates online in gold open access, with a CC-BY license, full texts of scientific journals of South Africa from all areas of knowledge, which predominantly communicate research articles original scientific research, from authors with affiliation in South Africa or abroad, use informed procedures of peer review of manuscripts they receive or order, cite, reference and inform the availability of research data and that show increasing performance in the indicators of compliance with the criteria of indexing. The Collection is an integral part and promoter of the SciELO Network of national and thematic collections of journals and is proactively positioned in the global flow of scientific information and scholarly communication.

    6. Performance evaluation criteria for continuation of journals in the SciELO collection

      The CSPiSA approved the establishment of a SciELO SA Advisory Committee to be responsible for this task. As a rule, all the indicators adopted in the evaluation process for inclusion of titles in SciELO SA are also applied as initial inputs into the decision on its continuation in the collection.
      Secondly, implementation of the Committee's recommendations for improvement of a journal will be considered as necessary for the journal to remain in the collection. Thirdly, specific continuation indicators associated with the specific performance of journals in SciELO SA will be used to justify their continuation or not in the collection.

      Punctuality in file delivery

      Punctuality is measured by the arrival of the electronic files of a journal at SciELO SA. File submission must strictly comply with the agreed publication frequency of the journal.
      Journals that are consistently delayed will be evaluated by the SciELO SA Advisory Committee, and will be subject to possible exclusion from the SciELO SA collection if not corrected within an agreed-upon time frame.

      Journal use indicator

      Journal use is measured monthly by the number of times it is accessed or viewed online. When the use of a journal is consistently low and/or tends to decrease when compared with other journals featuring the same subjects, the SciELO SA Advisory Committee will decide if the title should remain in the collection. The Committee will, however, firstly look into the reasons for the failure and will either propose possible solutions, or recommend forthwith that the journal be excluded from the SciELO SA collection.

      Impact factor

      The impact indicator of a journal title is measured by the average number of citations received by all articles in a set period following publication. This must be assessed together with the titles of journals in the same field of expertise.
      An increase in the impact factor or retention of the same average as that of similar journals will be considered productive performance.

      Title exclusion process report

      Exclusion of a journal from the SciELO SA collection can only be carried out after the SciELO SA Advisory Committee has consulted with the journal. In the case of unfavourable results obtained in the performance appraisal, the journal will be notified by the Committee of the aspects to be improved upon within the period/time stipulated.

      • Appeals

        Journal editors may appeal against a decision by the SciELO SA Advisory Committee, both in relation to inclusion and exclusion processes.
        Appeals will be examined by the 'Advisory Committee' and exclusion of the journal concerned may be re–examined. The Committee's response will be communicated to the journal editor.

      • Re–inclusion process

        Journals excluded from the SciELO SA collection can be re-introduced provided that they meet the inclusion criteria required by SciELO SA. The SciELO SA Advisory Committee will analyse possible re-inclusion.
        Re–inclusion of a journal title will not be made effective immediately after its exclusion from the SciELO SA collection. In order to be re-evaluated, a journal must demonstrate its compliance with the criteria for at least three consecutive issues or one year.

    7. SciELO South Africa Criteria and the Open Science principles and practices

      As of 2020, the SciELO SA Criteria began to promote and progressively demand compliance with good practices of open science communication in the policies, management, and editorial operation of journals. Within the next 2-3 years, the open science modus operandi should be adopted throughout the Collection. Open science is projected as the new modus operandi of doing and communicating research with an emphasis on the transparency of processes and sharing of open access content in favor of methodological rigor and cooperation between researchers. The advancement of open science depends on the proactive action of all actors and instances of scientific research, among which journals, their editors and reviewers stand out. SciELO is a world pioneer in the adoption of gold open access journal publishing. Making articles available on the web in open access is one of the main practices of open science. Since 2018, SciELO has been promoting, together with journals and the scientific community, the adoption of open science practices in four dimensions of scholarly communication, in order to ensure that the quality journals it indexes follow the state of the art in scholarly communication.

      The first-dimension deals with the harmonization of the adoption of open access among all journals, with regard to the adoption of the CC-BY license for all articles and the retention by authors of copyright (copyright), which should occur from January 2023.

      The second-dimension (which is a long-term goal for SciELO SA journals) deals with the inclusion of the modality of preprint and continuous publication in the scholarly communication flow of SciELO, carried out by South African journals, in convergence with quality journals from abroad. A preprint is defined as a manuscript ready for submission to a journal and which is deposited on trusted preprint servers, before or in parallel with submission to a journal. Continuous publication takes place as soon as the article is approved and edited. Both modalities are formal mechanisms to accelerate the communication of research. The preprints share with the journals the originality in the publication of the articles and inhibit the use of the double-blind procedure in the evaluation of the manuscripts. The use of preprints is an option and choice of the authors, and it is up to the journals to adapt their policies to accept the submission of manuscripts previously deposited in a preprint server recognized by the journal. On the other hand, journals can deposit articles already approved in the process of editing the final version on the preprint’s server. The SciELO Program operates SciELO Preprints as a web library of preprints that follows the international standards of reliable preprint servers and, therefore, can be recognized by all journals. The SciELO Criteria require journals to adopt continuous publication and accept manuscripts already available on preprint servers for evaluation.

      The third-dimension (which is also a long-term goal for SciELO SA journals) deals with the sharing of data, codes, methods, and other materials used and resulting from research that are usually underlying the texts of articles published by journals. These contents are generically identified as “research data”. This sharing is the responsibility of the researchers involved in the research and they must inform the journal when submitting the manuscript. It is up to journals, firstly, as an editorial policy and instructions to authors, to promote and then demand that the underlying content of the articles be duly cited and referenced. As an open science practice, journals may require that, except in justified cases, this content in the form of files be made available in open access in trusted data repositories. The SciELO Program operates the SciELO Data repository, which allows each journal to operate its own data server in accordance with international standards for data repositories and which can therefore be used by all journals. The SciELO Criteria indicate that all manuscripts must be accompanied by a declaration section on the availability of research data, which will be published in the final version of the article. The fourth-dimension deals with the peer review process of manuscripts, which should be as informed as possible. The articles must contain in the final version the name of the publisher(s) responsible for the evaluation process. Journals should also offer reviewers and authors the option of opening their respective identities in order to favor interaction in the manuscript evaluation process. The SciELO Publication Model allows the publication of opinions as annotations of articles published online or as a separate document, when they receive similar treatment to research articles. Journals indexed in the SciELO SA Collection will be called upon to promote the alignment of editorial policy and management with science practices in order to fully operate in the new modus operandi within the next two to three years. Journals that apply for admission to the Collection must have their policies and editorial management aligned with open science as pre-assessment criteria. Are expected to fully operate in open science within the next two to three years. The procedure for applying the SciELO Criteria will verify four questions:

      • the journal expresses in its editorial policy the alignment with open science;
      • informs that it accepts to evaluate manuscripts deposited on known preprint servers;
      • requires citation, referencing and declaration of research data; and
      • promotes informed peer review.

    8. SciELO South Africa criteria – evaluation of thematic areas

      Since 2015, in addition to the individual performance of journals, the SciELO SA Criteria have also started to guide the evaluation of performance by sets of journals according to thematic areas and the Collection as a whole. The performance of the Collection is a determinant of the evolution of its general composition and by thematic areas. To this end, the criteria indicators are specified in terms of minimum expected and recommended values for the major areas of knowledge and for the Collection as a whole. These values are periodically adjusted as the collection develops. Thus, the minimum values expected and recommended must be followed by the set of journals in each thematic area and the Collection as a condition for the admission of new journals. This approach makes applying to the criteria more flexible to individual journals. However, most journals should progressively comply with the recommended values for their subject area.

  3. The SciELO SA collection’s evaluation criteria for admission and of permanence of journals (procedures and criteria)

    1. Procedures for acceptance for inclusion

      Most importantly, only South African Open Access journals with no 'embargo' are considered for the SciELO SA collection. If such a journal is accredited by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and has received a favourable peer review by the PRPs described above, then it qualifies to be included in the SciELO SA collection. The DHET evaluates journals according to their accreditation criteria and policy.

      Inclusion of a journal in the SciELO SA collection is made after a favourable report is issued in the relevant Peer Review Report. The SciELO SA Operations Manager then extends an invitation to the editor of the journal to join the SciELO SA Open Access platform. Some editors prefer not to follow the open access route though.

      The Peer Review Report may, in addition to approval of inclusion, make recommendations for improvements and modifications to the journals. The SciELO SA Operations Manager may also request that publishing best-practice be introduced by the journal.

    2. The SciELO SA criteria

      A title is evaluated by peers appointed by ASSAf (as described elsewhere in this document) according to the following (summarised) criteria:

      1. The title needs to have been recommended for consideration for SciELO SA inclusion;
      2. The journal must be a South African open access journal with no 'embargoes';
      3. The journal must consistently be punctual and adhere to its indicated periodicity;
      4. The journal needs to have its own open access website where an archive of the journal issues is available;
      5. Publication frequency is important for the flow of scientific production and the speedy communication of research. Journals need to publish regularly according to the publication frequency of the journal. Where a journal publishes continuously at least two articles need to be sent to SciELO by end-March, 2+ articles by the end of June, another 2+ by the end of September and another 2+ by mid-December;
      6. SciELO SA suggests that a journal publishes a minimum of 10–20 articles a year (depending on the subject area – see 2.4 above). The primary website of the journal needs to be open access;
      7. Journals that publish one issue a year in November/December will be encouraged to rather publish articles as they are approved as publishing annually late in the year leads to a loss of access and citations; affects the journal’s impact factor and the journal’s inclusion in the Web of Science’s SciELO Citation Index search portal;
      8. More than two–thirds of the editorial board members must be from beyond a single institution;
      9. The journal must assign a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to each article, and include the ORCiDs of all authors;
      10. All articles must include an English abstract and English keywords and in the case of non-English articles an English title needs to be provided;
      11. The journal must be willing to adopt a Creative Commons (CC–BY) 4.0 licence when it joins the collection, and must state the journal’s Creative Commons licence e.g., CC-BY 4.0 on the journal’s webpage;
      12. The title holder must be willing to sign a publishing agreement with ASSAf;
      13. The journal needs to provide proof of the journal’s application for inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) within six months of being included in the collection. ; and
      14. The journal needs to align with open science principles

        • The adoption of open science practices compatible with the thematic area of the journal is a precondition for the journal’s evaluation.
        • In the editorial policy and more especially in the instructions to authors: the journal needs to express its alignment with open science;
        • the journal’s pre-print policy and on what conditions it accepts pre-print manuscripts needs to be stated on each journal’s webpage.

      Journals will continue to be featured in the SciELO SA collection subject to monitoring on the basis of performance indicators such as content quality and regular publication.

  4. The role of the SciELO SA Advisory Committee in recommending journals to be included in the SciELO SA collection

    The previous and current SciELO SA Advisory Committee members’ names and affiliations can be viewed here.

    The 'Committee for Scholarly Publishing in South Africa' (CSPiSA) is chaired by Prof Keyan Tomaselli, a nationally esteemed scholar. The CSPiSA and its Chair manage the appointment process of discipline–grouped journal 'Peer Review Panels' (PRPs), and the appointments are approved by the ASSAf Council.

    ASSAf's Scholarly Publishing Programme (SPP) carries out an external independent peer review and associated quality audit of all South African research journals in 5–year cycles. This is done in relation to groups of titles sharing a particular broad disciplinary focus in order to make recommendations for improved functioning of each journal in the national and international system.

    The periodic, grouped, quality assurance–directed peer review of South African research/scholarly periodicals functions analogously to the institutional quality audits of the Council on Higher Education (through its Higher Education Quality Committee (formerly HEQC), and focuses on: the quality of editorial and review processes; fitness of purpose; positioning in the global cycle of new and older journals listed and indexed in selective, established databases; financial sustainability; and scope and size issues. The ASSAf Panels carrying out the reviews each comprise 6–8 experts, at least half of whom are not directly drawn from the areas concerned.

    The methodology comprises a detailed (mainly logistic) questionnaire sent to the editors, direct multiple, independent peer reviews of the journals in terms of content, and a panel meeting to review these materials and all other available evidence in order to make appropriate findings and recommendations. The reports with recommendations are considered by the ASSAf's CSPiSA, and conveyed to the publishers and editors of the journals concerned, as well as to other stakeholders such as national associations, the South African Departments of Science and Technology and of Higher Education and Training (DHET), etc.

    ASSAf Peer Review Panels have reviewed, or are busy reviewing, journals in the following subject areas: To view the subject areas click here. For the process guidelines for setting up panels, peer reviewers, panel meetings and reports for the subject peer reviews of journals see elsewhere in this document.

  5. Process guidelines for setting up panels, peer reviewers, panel meetings and reports for the subject peer review of journals

    ASSAf peer review panels

    The quality assurance system for journals is conducted primarily through discipline–grouped peer reviews carried out by a series of purpose–appointed PRPs drawn from the ranks of researchers and other experienced scholars in and around the fields concerned in each case, and also include persons with practical (technical) knowledge of publishing. The proposed ASSAf PRPs are overseen by the CSPiSA, but appointed by the Academy Council. Their draft reports are sent to relevant stakeholders for comment and input, before finalisation by the PRP concerned, and ultimate consideration sequentially by the CSPiSA and the ASSAf Council. The following quote from the 2006 ASSAf Report clarifies the approach to be followed in the review of the journals and some aspects of the approach proposed:

    The periodic, grouped quality assurance–directed peer review of South African research periodicals would function analogously to the quality audits of the CHE, would be developed as an outcome of the Editors' Forum, and would focus on: the quality of editorial and review process; fitness of, and for purpose; positioning in the global cycle of new and old journals listed and indexed in databases; financial sustainability; and scope and size issues. The ASSAf panels carrying out the reviews would each comprise 6 – 8 experts, some of whom would not be directly drawn from the areas concerned, and would require data–gathering, interviews, and international comparisons, before reports with recommendations are prepared, approved, and released to stakeholders such as national associations, the Departments of Science and Technology and of Education, the CHE, the NRF and USAf.

    It must be emphasised that the main purpose of the ASSAf review process of journals is to improve the quality of scholarly publishing in the country and not an attempt to control these publications in any way. ASSAf respects the independence and freedom of researchers and of the research process itself as important preconditions for the critical and innovative production of new knowledge. At the same time, the work of South African researchers has to be assessed as part of the global community of scholars and scientists and in this respect ASSAf has an obligation to contribute to the improvement of quality of such work where possible.

    Initial criteria

    A number of criteria were explored in the part of the 2006 ASSAf Report (Chapter 4) that dealt with the survey of the then over 200 editors of accredited South African scholarly journals. Other possible criteria were proposed in other sections of the Report, or have since been suggested by members of the CSPiSA or the National Scholarly Editors' Forum. These are grouped and listed below – they have been consolidated in the Questionnaire sent to the editors of the journals being peer reviewed.

    Editorial process–related criteria and Peer review-related criteria (generally based on the Code of Best Practice in Editorial Discretion and Peer Review developed by ASSAf)

    • Longevity of the journal (continuous or discontinuous) in years.
    • Number of original peer–reviewed articles published, plus the number of manuscripts submitted, rejected out–of–hand and rejected after peer review per year during the last five years; average length of published articles; and 'author demography' of articles submitted and published.
    • Number and nature of peer reviewers used per manuscript and overall per year, including institutional and national/international spread; quality (as per the Code of Best Practice) and average length of peer review reports.
    • Average time period between submission and publication of accepted manuscripts; frequency of publication.
    • Professional stature and experience of the editor; selection and longevity of service of the editor; success in addressing the major issues in the field, through commissioning of reviews/articles, editorial comment, etc.
    • Number and professional stature/experience of editorial board members; selection, turnover, nature of involvement and spread (national/international) of members.
    • Existence and nature of editorial policy/guidelines and frequency of revision; and existence of a conflict–of–interest policy (for example when manuscripts are authored/co–authored by an editor or board member).
    • Publication of errata and number per year.
    • Publication, number, acquisition and proportion of enrichment features, such as editorials, 'news and views', correspondence, book reviews and policy/ topical fora.

    Existence of a peer review process (e.g. by a professional association). The questionnaire used by independent peer reviewers to evaluate journal can be viewed here.

    Business–related criteria

    • Frequency and regularity of publication.
    • Print run; redundant stock; and method of distribution to readers (direct or indirect).
    • Production model and service provider(s).
    • Paid and unpaid advertising.
    • Sponsorships and quid pro quo agreements.
    • Paid and unpaid subscription base; marketing of subscriptions; and cost level of print and (if applicable) e–subscriptions.
    • Existence (or consideration of), accessibility and evaluation, especially in respect of tagging and searchability, of an e–publication version.
    • Existence of HTML and XML versions in addition to PDF versions; and use of multimedia.
    • Provision of open–access portals.
    • Total income and expenditure per annum.
    • Distribution to international destinations.
    • Inclusion (and nature thereof) in Web of Science (WoS), Scopus and/or IBSS or any other international database. Receipt of offers to purchase from multi–national publishers.
    • Existence of copyright agreements.

    Bibliometric assessments

    • Citation practice (e.g. the number of authors listed).
    • Availability, if applicable, of Web of Science journal and/or SciELO impact factors (and various derivatives) over the last five years.
    • Nature (regular/increasing) of publication of reviews.
    • Publishing of English abstracts for non–English articles.

    Process guidelines

    An ASSAf Project Officer of the Scholarly Publications Unit is assigned to support each Panel Chair, but reports to the Director of the Scholarly Publishing Unit in terms of review logistics and the production of draft and final review reports. The project officer is responsible for the following issues and activities:

    • selection and appointment of the panel members;
    • obtaining completed questionnaires from editors;
    • organizing panel activities, including meetings; selecting independent peer reviewers for each journal or groups of titles;
    • drafting consolidated version one (v1) reports;
    • obtaining CSPiSA and ASSAf Council approval for final, publishable Panel Reports.

    Setting up panels

    The proposed PRPs is chaired by an ASSAf Member appointed by Council, who assumes accountability for the Panel's work in helping to developing a credible quality assurance mechanism for South African scholarly journals.

    Selecting Panel Members

    The appointment process of PRPs members is managed by the Chair of the Committee on Scholarly Publishing in South Africa (CSPiSA) until the Panel and its Chair have been appointed.

    • CSPiSA members are asked to assist in preparing a list of at least 12–13 names, of whom the last 4–5 shall be considered to be potential alternates to the first 7–8.
    • A typical PRP consists of 6–8 members.
    • Each name must be accompanied by critical personal and career detail, as well as by a brief motivation, to enable the CSPiSA, and later the ASSAf Council, to apply its mind to the question of constituting a best–possible, most–competent PRP.
    • The draft list of potential members is published on the ASSAf website, and also circulated for comment to members of the National Scholarly Editors Forum (NSEF), at least two weeks before the Council meeting where the appointments are to be made.
    • All comments received will be noted in making the final decision.
    • All provisionally listed persons are required to complete and submit conflict–of–interest forms prior to Council's consideration of the list in question.

    Criteria for membership

    • The individuals selected to serve on a panel should have experience and credibility in the disciplines under review, or in related disciplines, or must be senior scholars who may be from a completely different discipline. Generally, the composition should a mix of disciplinary specialists, specialists in areas cognate to the broad disciplinary area concerned, and 'wise people' who are steeped in scholarly practices, from any broad disciplinary area (respectively in an approximate ratio of 3:3:2)
    • The panel members should have demonstrable expertise and experience in both the editing and peer review aspects of research journals.
    • It is not necessary that all panel members be expert in both editing and peer review aspects – a mix of senior academics and a few active editors (of journals not under review) is appropriate – but all should have some appreciation of both editing and peer review.
    • At least one member should have direct practical (technical) experience of publishing.

    Persons selected as panel participants will typically be drawn from ASSAf members, academic institutions, science councils and consultants.

    Conflict of interest

    • It will be necessary to take care to avoid real or perceived conflicts.
    • Committee expertise, balance and conflict of interest are discussed at the first meeting (and may again be discussed at any later meeting) of PRPs, and recommendations to resolve problematic issues brought through the SPU (Secretariat) to the ASSAf Council for possible amendment of the composition of PRPs.
    • Panel members are requested to submit written Conflict of Interest statements, and are bound to report any new potential sources of conflict of interest during the quality review process.

    Setting up and organizing the panel

    Organization of the panel is conducted by its Chair, supported by the assigned Projects Officer. The activities related to organization typically include:

    • Planning and costing the review and Panel activities.
    • Obtaining completed questionnaires from each Editor/equivalent (publishing logistics focus).
    • Identifying suitable peer reviewers for each journal or group of titles (content quality focus).
    • Assembling hard copies of journals for use by the Panel.
    • Establishing Panel meeting dates, assigning tasks, and collating materials.
    • Preparing and distributing pre– and post–meeting materials (Draft 'Version 1' Reports, i.e. assembled peer reviews and editor's questionnaires, in template form).
    • Taking responsibility for post–meeting activities, including draft 'Version 2' report preparation, circulation for comment to Panellists and editors, and preparation and processing of final Reports.
    • Evaluation of Panel processes.

    Selection of peer reviewers (see above)

    • At least two, but preferably three independent peer reviewers, as well as alternative reviewers must be agreed upon by the Panel for each title or group of similar titles.
    • Members of the CSPiSA and the ASSAf Membership in general will be given an opportunity to volunteer through a specific written call;
    • Other candidates will be sought from lists of NRF and MRC grant holders and/or science council research–active staff.
    • The process of selection is overseen by the Panel chair.
    • The final agreed appointments of willing volunteer reviewers are made by the Panel itself.
    • Conflicts of interest must be avoided – thus current or former editors cannot become peer reviewers of the journals concerned; this also applies to current members of editorial boards.
    • The projects officer must arrange access to hard or e–copies of the journals under review by independent experts.
    • The core questions to be answered in each case must be provided to peer reviewers, who should be asked to ensure that these questions are all addressed in their reviews. Click here to view the questionnaire.

    Peer reviews

    Independent peer reviewers are selected on the basis of their eminence and activity in their disciplines, drawing from the ASSAf membership, registers of grant holders from the National Research Foundation (NRF), Medical Research Council (MRC) and others, and from the leadership and general membership of scholarly associations. Once they have agreed to serve, they are provided with a set of questions (Appendix B) to be answered in examining all the issues of particular journals that have appeared during the preceding two to three years, or not fewer than eight issues. They are asked to examine print or e–copies of the journals, and to submit a confidential report including, if possible, comments in each of the areas specified in the question list, plus on any other relevant matter.

    As the individual reviews are subsumed in the process of drafting the consolidated consensus review, they are in effect anonymous and confidential.

    Panel meetings preparations and procedures

    The ASSAf project officer is responsible to draw up the version 1 (v1) report of each journal. Each reviewer's answers should be consolidated under the standard headings of the draft; each input as a separate paragraph. The editor's questionnaire should also be inserted as a single item under "Business aspects".

    The documentation (editors' questionnaires, peer review reports) should be sent out by email to all panellists at least 2 weeks prior to the Panel meeting.

    Conveners of sub–sets of journals should be alerted at this time to their role at the forthcoming panel meeting to present the journals in the set, and to make recommendations for discussion and elaboration. If unable to attend, they should be asked please to submit written notes for presentation to the panel by the convener.

    Ideally, hard copies of issues of journals to be considered should be available at the meeting, but if logistically impossible, this can be dispensed with.

    A quorum of at least two–thirds of the members of PRPs must be guaranteed at any meeting, otherwise a new date must be sought.

    Panellists should be informed at the same time that hard copies of all documentation will be available at the meeting, in bundles containing the completed editor's questionnaire and reviewers' reports for each journal title, for pick up at the start of the meeting.

    The responsible project officer should ensure that at least two peer reviews, and preferably three, are in hand for each title by the time of the initial send–out of materials, or, by default, by the date of the meeting, for tabling on the day.


    Journal titles should be considered in sub–sets, as per the above

    Consensus answers to each of the criteria should be agreed seriatim as per a convener's spoken summary, and noted by the project officer in attendance

    Particular attention should be paid to reaching agreement on recommendations in respect of:

    An invitation to the publisher/editor to join the SciELO SA platform (note the special criteria on frequency of publication and annual number of original peer–reviewed articles)
    A recommendation to the DHET on accreditation in its list of S A journals in which any article is considered as a valid research output
    If not recommended, suggestions for improvement that would make it possible to make an invitation and/or recommendation under (a) or (b)
    Suggestions for improvement or enhanced function, generally.


    A detailed and motivated draft report of each PRP's findings and recommendations are prepared by the assigned Projects Officer, working closely with the panel chair, and in consultation with the CSPiSA. The drafting of the consensus review from the individual reviews is key, and is overseen by the panel chair and the Director of the SPU. Draft materials are circulated to all panel members for review and comment before draft consensus reports are prepared. The relevant excerpts are sent to the editors and publishers for comment and correction of misconceptions and inaccuracies, after which the final versions of each report are prepared for consideration by the CSPiSA and subsequently the ASSAf Council. If approved, the reports are published by the Academy and made generally available. Specific submissions and recommendations are made to the DHET.

    Post–meeting procedures and panel reports

    When producing the Version 2 (v2) report the three paragraphs in each item has to be consolidated to produce a consensus version.

    A detailed and motivated draft 'Version 2' report of each Peer Review Panel's findings and recommendations are prepared by the assigned Projects Officer, working closely with the Panel chair.

    The project officer and convener should reach agreement on the record of the meeting in respect of all outcomes, within no more than 2 weeks.

    The meeting record should sent be sent for comment and ratification to all Panellists (including those who were not able to attend the meeting) and ask for replies within one week.

    The convener should prepare a final version of the meeting record, and submit a copy of each journal–specific item as a privileged communication to the editor concerned, for written comment within no more than two weeks.

    The convener should identify any editor's comment that might materially change the recommendations in the record, and submit these to the panel for consideration and decision.

    The finally agreed record should be submitted to the CSPiSA for approval, before submission in turn to the ASSAf Council, and public release.

    The comprehensive details of the SciELO Network criteria can be found here -


    Contact SciELO SA for further enquiries.

  6. Scientific Electronic Library Online

    This page was updated in November 2022.
    Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)


SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

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