About the Journal


Focus and scope

Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk (SWMW) is a professional journal for the social worker. This autonomous, internationally accredited South African open-access, double blind peer-reviewed journal publishes original research, conceptual articles, and book reviews. The Journal's objective is to provide a platform for theoretical discourses on current issues, challenges, innovations, and advancements within the global social work discipline, alongside the implications for practice, particularly in South Africa. The readership of the Journal includes educators, students, researchers, frontline practitioners, managers, and policymakers in social work and related professions worldwide.


The vision of Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is to publish and promote high-quality research for the local and global academic readership, relevant beyond an immediate context, and applicable to social work in South Africa.


The mission of Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is to promote and advance scientific research, practice, and its impact at micro, messo, and macro levels by professional social workers in South Africa and beyond. To accomplish this mission, we follow an individualised, developmental approach that empowers research scholars in social work, particularly from Southern Africa and developing environments. Therefore, feedback on submitted manuscripts is not seen by the editorial team as a one-time judgment regarding the publishability of a submitted manuscript. The hallmark of the Journal’s mission lies in its capacity-building of researchers through comprehensive, constructive reviewing processes, enhancing the scholarly merit of manuscripts with the goal of publishing high-quality research. While contributions from internationally recognised and established authors are appreciated, we welcome manuscript submissions from emerging researchers.

History of the Journal

The first issue of Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk was published in April 1965 by the Department of Social Work at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. This bilingual Journal (English and Afrikaans) was founded by Prof. Erika Theron, who served as the inaugural editor, and Prof. Jan de Villiers, who assumed the role of business manager; both were affiliated with the Department of Social Work at Stellenbosch University. The Journal “…envisages the improvement of the standard of the (social work) profession in the Republic (of South Africa) and the furnishing of information about recent developments in the sphere of social work” (Theron, E. 1965. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, vol.1, no. 1., p.2). An endowment from Dr Hermien Lambrechts, an organising secretary (director) of South Africa's first formal welfare organisation, the ACVV, was established and continues to provide support for the production of the Journal. Over the past decades, Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk uninterrupted published four issues per year, each containing eight articles. These issues have been open access since 2014. Moreover, Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is currently recognised as the number one open-access Journal on the list of the top 50 social work journals in the world, as listed on the Scimago Journal and Country Rank (See Journal Rankings on Social Work). This high regard, coupled with the fact that the Journal has always been an independent, not-for-profit publication managed pro bono by academics, demonstrates that the Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is a unique academic and practice asset for the social work profession in South Africa and beyond.

Endorsement of the global definition of social work

Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk subscribes to the global definition of social work as approved by the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) General Assembly and International Federation of Schools of Social Work (IFSW ) General Meeting in July 2014: “Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledge, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing"  See IFSW Global Definition and IASSW Global Definition


Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is an open-access journal, which means that all content is freely accessible to users and their institutions without any associated charges. See the Journal’s Open Access Policy

Double blind peer review

Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is a double-blind peer-reviewed journal, meaning that the author(s) do not know who the reviewers are, and vice versa. Their identities are never disclosed to each other. This unwavering commitment to anonymity ensures a rigorous, scholarly, fair, and unbiased review process for all submitted articles. The Journal  subscribes to the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) Code of Best Practice in Scholarly Journal Publishing, Editing and Peer Review (See ASSAF Code of Best Practice ).

Ethics statement

Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is committed to publishing with integrity and upholding the highest standards of ethical conduct in scientific research and publication, as outlined in the Journal’s focus and scope, vision, and mission.

Refer to the Journal's Ethical Governance Policy Guidelines for a complete exposition of the ethical guidelines and standards of Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk.

Guiding Acts and documents: The ethical conduct of all operations of the Journal is guided, inter alia, by the following Acts and documents:

  1. Chapter 7 of the South African Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 ('POPIA'). See ASSAf POPIA code of conduct for research.
  2. SCIELO guidelines on best practices for strengthening ethics in scientific publication.
  3. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
  4. Global Social Work Statement of Ethical Principles.

Ethical clearance: All empirical research must disclose an ethical clearance number from an accredited institution at the first submission to the Journal.

Unbiased, offensive, and derogatory language: Manuscripts must be free of biased, offensive, or derogatory language. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk acknowledges that language-related issues are contested, and that language practices to disseminate research evolve over time. Please refer to the Journal’s Accessible and Inclusive Language Policy.

Fairness, objectivity, and confidentiality of the peer review process: The peer review process of Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is designed to uphold fairness, objectivity, and confidentiality. Reviewers are selected based on their expertise and are expected to evaluate manuscripts impartially, providing constructive feedback to authors.

Maintaining confidentiality by the editorial team: The editorial team of Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is committed to maintaining the confidentiality of submitted manuscripts and protecting the rights of authors.

Disclosure of conflicts of interest: The Journal strives to avoid conflicts of interest and discloses any potential conflicts when they arise.

Misconduct: Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk takes a strong stance against research misconduct, including fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism. In cases of suspected misconduct, we follow established guidelines as indicated in our ethics policy and work collaboratively with relevant institutions to address the issue appropriately.

Periodic review of ethical governance policy guidelines: This ethical statement and Journal ethical governance policy guidelines are subject to periodic review and updates to ensure alignment with evolving ethical standards and best practices in scholarly publishing.

Journal management

While Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is published by the Department of Social Work at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and is managed on a pro bono basis by dedicated staff, the Journal operates autonomously and not for profit, relying on its own funds. Please refer to the Journal's Independent Status Policy for further details.

To ensure sustainability, the Chair of the Department of Social Work also serves as the Chair of the editorial board. The editorial team comprises the operational editorial management team (Editor-in-Chief, Chair of the editorial board, managing editor and language editors, as well as financial and digital administrators), an editorial board, and members of the editorial advisory committee (reviewers).

The Editor-in-Chief is appointed by the Department of Social Work at Stellenbosch University and typically holds the status of an established researcher, preferably internationally recognised. Editorial board members and members of the editorial advisory committee are competitively appointed for three-year terms. The editorial board members are esteemed and recognised social work researchers, and members of the editorial advisory committee either hold doctoral qualifications or are in the process of attaining them in the social work discipline. They represent all South African social work training institutions, various fields of social work practice, Southern African countries, and five continents. The tasks and responsibilities of the editorial team are outlined in the Journal's Editorial Team Tasks and Responsibilities Policy.

Journal accreditation and indexed

Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is part of the collection of peer-reviewed South African scholarly journals in the Scientific Electronic Library Online  project. SciELO SA is managed by the Academy of Science of South Africa , funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology , and endorsed by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training. Its legal foundation is the Academy of Science of South Africa Act, [No. 67 of 2001] ), which came into effect in May 2002. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk ascribes to the definition of a South African journal for inclusion in the DHET list of South African journals.

The Journal is accredited and indexed by the following South African and international collections: 

  1. DHET
  2. Scopus (Elsevier)
  3. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ):
  4. Web of Science Master Journal List
  5. ScIELO SA
  6. SCImago: Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk
  7. EBSCOhost
  8. Sabinet


The publication of an article in Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk must be the initial publication of the manuscript, as the Journal exclusively publishes original articles. Therefore, articles must not have been previously published in their current form or in a substantially similar form in another publication, including conference proceedings. However, academic theses, dissertations, and unpublished conference presentations are exceptions and are not considered as "other publications”.  

No text in any submitted article may be solely generated by artificial intelligence (AI) tools; therefore, using AI exclusively as the author of a text is not permissible. During the article review process, the editorial team may utilise AI and plagiarism detection apps to ensure the originality and integrity of submitted manuscripts.  The author(s) bear the responsibility of ensuring the precision, credibility, and authenticity of the written content.  (See the Journal’s Generative AI Policy and Plagiarism Policy).


Copyright is retained by the author(s) of articles published in Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk. All work published is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International  license (CC BY 4.0) This license implies that prior permission for the use of published material in Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk in any form is not necessary from the publisher, Editor-in-Chief, or authors of articles. However, if users cite material from a publication in the Journal, they must always use the final version of the manuscript published at Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk .


Authors who submit articles to Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk may not post their pre-reviewed manuscripts on preprint servers, personal blogs, subject or institutional repositories, or webpages prior to submission. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk can also not be cited to indicate that the article has been submitted, is under review, approved, or "in press", as this may compromise the double-blind peer review process. See the Journal’s Preprint Policy.


Authors may deposit the published version of their articles in a subject or institutional repository once it has been published in Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk. All content of the Journal is archived within SciELO SA  and digitally preserved through Portico) and CLOCKSS. Authors are advised to read the complete Archiving Policy and Copyright Policy of Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk prior to submitting their articles.

Author diversity

Social Work/Maatskaplike intends that the Editor-in-Chief ensures a diverse geographic and institutional affiliation distribution of published articles, aiming for a minimum of 65%/35% per year. This aligns with the Journal's focus, scope, mission, vision, and the recommendations of DHET and SciELO SA for best practices in author diversity. See the Journal's Author Diversity Policy.

Publication language

The publication languages for articles are English and Afrikaans. Articles written in Afrikaans must be accompanied by an English abstract and a 2000-word summary in English. We acknowledge that English may not be the first language of many authors in Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk. Therefore, we strongly recommend that authors arrange for professional language editing of their article submissions before submitting them to the Journal. Nonetheless, a professional English language editor employed by the Journal will review and edit the final proofs of all articles.

ublication frequency

Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk is published four times a year, with a minimum of eight articles per issue in March, June, September, and December. To expedite the publication of articles, the Editor-in-Chief may include more than eight articles per issue.


Each issue of Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk has an editorial, written by the Editor-in-Chief, to contextualise reported findings by authors in their articles. Themes, findings, implications, and contributions of the articles, as well as their relevance to the social work discipline in South Africa and beyond, are highlighted. Guest editors may be invited to provide editorial contributions and viewpoints relevant to cutting-edge South African or international social work practices, phenomena, issues, developments, and events.

Special and themed issues

For Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, a themed issue is a regular part of the Journal's publication schedule, which includes four issues each year. Special issues may also be considered, adding an extra issue per year. Both themed and special issues have a specific focus, adhere to particular deadlines, undergo the standard journal review and editing processes, and may have guest editors. Formal proposals, to be reviewed by the Journal's operational management are required by November each year. For more information and to discuss possibilities, please contact the Editor-in-Chief.

Acceptance rate

The current average acceptance rate for the Journal is 34%. For a broader comparison with acceptance rates from journals worldwide,  refer to the information provided in the article by Herbert, R. (February 15, 2020) in Elsevier Author Services: Journal Acceptance Rates.

Article Processing Charges (APCs)

Beginning with Volume 60, Number 1 in 2024, corresponding authors will receive an invoice of R4000.00 per article from Stellenbosch University when an article has been accepted for publication. The handling of these APCs will be managed by the managing editor of the Journal within the Stellenbosch University financial system. Prospective authors are strongly advised to consult the Article Processing Charges (APC) Policy of the journal. Please note that the APCs will increase to R4600 for all articles published in 2025.

Journal ranking

See the Journal ranking for top 50 social work journals  in the world and the list of top open-access social work journals .