Purpose of the ethical governance policy

The purpose of the Journal's ethical governance policy is to clearly inform readers, authors, and all those involved in the reviewing and processing of manuscripts about the ethical processes governing manuscript submissions, reviews, publications, and grievances.

Ethical 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.

Guiding Acts and documents

The ethical conduct of all operations of the Journal is guided, among other things, by the following Acts and documents:

  1. Chapter 7 of the South African Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 ('POPIA'). (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.

Chair of the editorial board:

  1. Ensures that appropriate guidelines on all related Journal policies are published on the Journal's website.
  2. Takes responsibility for the proper functioning of the Journal according to the Journal’s ethical governance policy guidelines.
  3. Ensures that the Journal complies with all the requirements of the Department of Higher Education and Training's Research Outputs Policy (2015).
  4. Assumes editorial discretion over manuscript submissions to the Journal by the Editor-in-Chief or the managing editor, following the same submission and review process as any other author.

Editorial board members and editorial advisory committee members (reviewers):

  1. Represent all social work training institutes in South Africa, including a significant number of experts from abroad, with no more than two-thirds beyond a single institution.
  2. Reflect expertise in the relevant subject areas of social work.
  3. Ensure that their names and affiliations are published correctly on the Journal's website.
  4. Treat any manuscript as confidential, and review documents or discussions thereof must be stored in a secure, private platform. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review or discussions thereof may not be used for personal advantage. See the Confidentiality and Media Embargoes Policy
  5. Conduct reviews objectively, and observations should be formulated clearly, in a developmental/constructive way, and with supporting arguments so that authors can use them to improve the manuscript.
  6. Notify the Editor immediately and excuse themselves from the particular review process or request if they feel unqualified to review or discuss a manuscript or know that it will not be possible to respond within one month to a request of the Editor-in-Chief.
  7. Should not consider for review any manuscripts or discussions thereof where they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, organisations, or institutions connected to the manuscripts.
  8. Who discover or know the identity of authors due to any reason, must declare this to the Editor-in-Chief and should not be further involved in the reviewing of the particular manuscript.
  9. Review manuscripts in a timely manner, contributing to the decision-making process regarding the publication of articles, and assist in improving the quality of the manuscript.
  10. Alert the Editor-in-chief to any suspected plagiarism or substantially similar content.
  11. Be objective in their reports. Personal remarks and criticisms directed at authors or hurtful remarks directed at the text content are not eligible. The opinion of the reviewer must be clear, well-argued, and respectful of the author.

Editor-in-Chief and managing editor (editorial staff):

  1. Ensure that the entire peer-review process upholds fairness and objectivity. See the Peer Review Process Policy.
  2. Keep all information regarding submitted articles confidential.
  3. Ensure that the Journal’s Submission to Publication Timeline Policy is strictly executed.
  4. Should not act as a primary reviewer for the papers they are handling.
  5. Evaluate and base decision-making regarding manuscripts exclusively on the basis of sound academic merit regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, ethnicity, or political philosophy of the authors.
  6. Ensure that all articles undergo a double-blind peer review, where the identities of authors and reviewers are not known to each other.
  7. Pursue suspected cases of misconduct and not just simply reject articles that raise suspicion.
  8. Give authors an opportunity to respond to any complaints.
  9. Follow reasonable and appropriate procedures when complaints of conflict of interest or of an ethical nature arise.
  10. Archive all documentation relating to manuscript submissions and following processes.
  11. Correct any inaccuracy or misleading statement that has been published in order to maintain the Journal’s integrity. This includes the publishing of errata, corrigenda or to retract articles if need be.


  1. Present an accurate account of their original research as well as an objective discussion of its significance. Manuscripts should follow the submission guidelines of the Journal (SW/MW Journal).
  2. Ensure that what they are submitting is original, has not been previously published, utilised, or presented in any form (except as part of an academic thesis, dissertation, or conference presentation), and is free from plagiarism or any artificial intelligence-driven manipulation.
  3. Only submit manuscripts that align with the focus and scope of the Journal.
  4. Should not submit the same manuscript to more than one Journal concurrently. It is also expected that authors will not publish redundant manuscripts or manuscripts reporting the same research in more than one Journal.
  5. Acknowledge all sources of data used in the research and cite publications that have been influential in the research work.
  6. Appoint a corresponding author who is responsible for preparing the: (i) submission details page; (ii) Journal agreement form; and (iii) article to the Journal, and being the point of contact for the Editorial team.
  7. Provide the correct and complete details of all authors, as well as their biographies as requested in the Journal’s submission details page when manuscripts are submitted.
  8. Limit authorship to those who have made a significant contribution to the conception, design, execution or interpretation of the reported study. Others who have made significant contributions must be listed as co-authors (specifically supervisors of postgraduate theses/dissertations). Corresponding authors must also ensure that all co-authors have seen and agreed to the submitted version of the manuscript and the order of and inclusion of their names as co-authors.
  9. Report any institutional change of themselves or co-authors when manuscripts are being processed (as this may influence government subsidy).
  10. Ensure that when a manuscript is submitted, based on a student's research, that the institutional affiliation of the student is clearly mentioned.
  11. Declare any real or potential conflict of interest regarding the research and the publication process. See the Conflict of Interest Policy.
  12. Confirm that they have obtained permission to reproduce any content that is not theirs.
  13. Notify the Editor-in-Chief immediately if a significant error in the manuscript at any stage of processing and/or publication comes to light, and should cooperate if it is necessary to retract the article or to publish an erratum, addendum or corrigendum notice.
  14. Undertake to settle the invoice of the Article Production Charge (APC), once it is issued by the Journal after the article has been provisionally accepted.
  15. Ensure that any study involving human or animal subjects conforms to local, national and international laws and requirements. All submissions reporting on empirical studies must include the ethical approval from a recognised gatekeeper institution or entity, along with the corresponding ethical approval number for the particular research, as requested on the article submission details page when authors submit a manuscript. Please note that Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk retains the prerogative to scrutinise the validity of a gatekeeper entity and may choose not to recognise such an entity. In such instances, acceptance of the article may be precluded.
  16. Authors must be willing to share the following information on the article details page: (i) What were the start and conclusion dates during which you conducted the empirical research? (ii) Ethical clearance number from a gatekeeper institute/organisation; (iii) the name of the gatekeeper institution/organisation responsible for granting ethical clearance; and (iv) the contact details (name, telephone number, and email address) of the individual responsible for ethical clearance at the gatekeeper institution/organisation.
  17. Disclose in the article submission details form if an article is derived from an academic thesis, dissertation, research project, conference presentation, or a preprint. Authors must be willing to provide complete details, including whether the article partly or wholly results from a thesis/dissertation or research project; particulars of the degree (if applicable), university/organisation/institution, title of the thesis/dissertation or research project, date of completion (or in progress); conference name and title of presentation, date of the conference; and specifics about the preprint.
  18. Be aware that online originality and AI checking will be conducted to protect the integrity of the Journal.
  19. Declare any applicable sources of funding received for the research reported on in the manuscript.
  20. Disclose any acknowledgment in the manuscript, required by funders or scholarships, as well as any other significant support deemed necessary to be mentioned.
  21. Undertake to complete and sign the publishing agreement form provided by the Journal after a manuscript has been provisionally accepted for publication.


Misconduct and unethical behaviour may be identified and brought to the attention of the Editor-in-Chief at any time, by anyone. Sufficient evidence should be provided in writing by any complainant when informing the editor or publisher for an investigation to be initiated. All allegations will be taken seriously and must be treated appropriately. Those who report such behaviour in good faith will be protected. The Editor-in-Chief will respond personally to complaints within three weeks after such a complaint has been received. When the Editor-in-Chief considers an allegation as serious, the Chair of the editorial board will be engaged in the investigation and following processes. The Editor-in-Chief and the Chair of the editorial board may collaborate with legal services and the appropriate research ethics division of Stellenbosch University, when deemed necessary. When misconduct or unethical behaviour is confirmed, appropriate actions, as decided by the Editor-in-Chief and the Chair of the editorial board, will be taken promptly.

The Journal reserves the right to issue retractions if an article is proven to have serious misconduct. In such circumstances, in line with its ethical understanding and in accordance with the appropriate COPE guidelines, the Journal does not hesitate to take the necessary actions required.