Criteria for publication
The «Africa: History and Culture» receives many more submissions than it can publish. Therefore, we ask peer-reviewers to keep in mind that every paper that is accepted means that another good paper must be rejected. To be published in the «Africa: History and Culture», a paper should meet four general criteria:
- Provide strong evidence for its conclusions.
- Be novel.
- Be of extreme importance to scientists in a specific field.
- Ideally, interesting to researchers in other related disciplines.
In general, to be acceptable a paper should represent an advance in understanding likely to influence thinking in a field. There should be a discernible reason as to why the work deserves the visibility of publication in the «Africa: History and Culture».
The review process
All submitted manuscripts are read by the editorial staff. To save time for authors and peer-reviewers, only those papers that seem most likely to meet our editorial criteria are sent for formal review. Those papers judged by the editors to be of insufficient general interest or otherwise inappropriate are rejected promptly without external review (although these decisions may be based on informal advice from specialists in the field).
Manuscripts judged to be of potential interest to our readership are sent for formal review, typically to one or two reviewers. The editors then make a decision based on the reviewers' advice.
Reviewer selection is critical to the publication process, and we base our choice on many factors, including expertise, reputation, specific recommendations and our own previous experience of a reviewer's characteristics. For instance, we avoid using people who are slow, careless, or do not provide reasoning for their views, whether harsh or lenient.
We check with potential reviewers before sending them manuscripts to review. Reviewers should bear in mind that these messages contain confidential information, which should be treated as such.
Writing the review
The primary purpose for the review is to provide the editors with the information needed to reach a decision. The review should also instruct the authors as to how they can strengthen their paper to the point where it may be acceptable. As far as possible, a negative review should explain to the authors the weaknesses of their manuscript, so that rejected authors can understand the basis for the decision and see in broad terms what needs to be done to improve the manuscript. This is secondary to the other functions, however, and referees should not feel obliged to provide detailed, constructive advice to the authors of papers that do not meet the criteria for the journal (as outlined in the letter from the editor when asking for the review). If the reviewer believes that a manuscript would not be suitable for publication, his/her report to the author should be as brief as is consistent with enabling the author to understand the reason for the decision.
We do not release reviewers' identities to authors or to other reviewers, except when reviewers specifically ask to be identified. Unless they feel so strongly, however, we prefer that reviewers should remain anonymous throughout the review process and beyond.
Peer-review publication policies
All contributions submitted to the «Africa: History and Culture» that are selected for peer-review are sent to at least one - but usually two or more - independent reviewers, selected by the editors. Authors are welcome to suggest suitable independent reviewers and may also request that the journal excludes one or two individuals or laboratories. The journal sympathetically considers such requests and usually honors them, but the editor's decision on the choice of referees is final.
Ethics and security
«Africa: History and Culture» editors may seek advice about submitted papers not only from technical reviewers but also on any aspect of a paper that raises concerns. These may include, for example, ethical issues or issues of access to data or materials. Very occasionally, concerns may also relate to the implications to society of publishing a paper, including threats to security. In such circumstances, advice will usually be sought simultaneously with the technical peer-review process. As in all publishing decisions, the ultimate decision as to whether to publish is the responsibility of the editor of the journal concerned.