A Letter to Prospective Authors
Thank you for considering publishing with JSAS. We love receiving exciting new papers and, where appropriate, working with you to develop them to their full strengths. We also realise that for many people submitting a paper to a journal can be an intimidating or frustrating experience. So, especially if you have not yet published an academic article in a refereed journal or are in doubt as to the appropriate mode of publication of your work, we have prepared these words of advice, which we hope you will find helpful:
First, please make sure that JSAS is the right journal for you. We don’t care how senior or junior you are, or whether this is your first paper or your 50th. But we do care about what’s in the paper and how it is written. To ensure that you’re submitting to the right journal for you, please read our ‘Instructions for authors’ and consider the following questions:
Does this paper focus on southern Africa? This means that the paper should have its main focus on a country or several countries within the region (see section 2a for the full list). We also welcome papers that compare southern Africa or southern African countries with other regions. Some papers that consider southern African examples, but use a very technical approach, may fit better in the appropriate disciplinary journal. We expect articles in JSAS to be readable and interesting to scholars from a range of social science and humanities approaches. An example of a paper that does this well might be Janne Rantala’s ‘‘Hidrunisa Samora’: Invocations of a Dead Political Leader in Maputo Rap’, which takes a somewhat unusual focus – rap music – but uses it to explore issues of interest to anyone with an interest in Mozambique’s recent past, as well as the politics of leadership and music.
Does it make a contribution to the literature that goes beyond policy recommendations? A JSAS article should not be structured like a policy or consultancy report, and should have an intellectual puzzle at its heart. Its conclusion should speak to these issues, rather than simply listing recommendations. Good examples of JSAS articles that engage with policy, but also make a contribution to literature include Blessings Chinsinga’s ‘The Green Belt Initiative, Politics and Sugar Production in Malawi’ and Krista Johnson’s ‘Cutting to the Chase: Donor Expediency Drives the Campaign for Safe Male Circumcision in Botswana’.
Is it based on empirical research? Most papers that we publish draw on rich empirical material gathered from archives, ethnography, interviews or other sources and methods. If you have not undertaken such research, providing an original contribution to debates, then we are unlikely to publish your article. We do occasionally publish theoretical pieces, but these need to be truly ground-breaking work, not simply literature reviews.
Is your paper the right length? We cannot ask our referees to read papers that exceed our recommended length (see section 8), but we also don’t usually like to waste their time on very short papers.
Have you paid attention to our style guide and referencing? It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it helps us assess the paper if it conforms to our usual practices (see sections 5-18).
Have you checked that your quotations, facts and references are correct? If we find that your references are not accurate or that material is misquoted, we will not be able to publish your article.
Finally, we encourage you to read other papers that we have published, so that you get a ‘feel’ for the types of papers that we publish. Universities across our region have access to our journal through the R4L and other schemes. If you’re having trouble accessing it, please speak to the digital librarian at your institution. Our publishers, Taylor & Francis, also make access to our journal available to authors in emerging regions through the Star scheme, which allows you to register for free access to up to 50 articles per year: https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/supporting-authors-in-emerging-regions/
If you decide that your paper is not quite right for JSAS, then we wish you all the best with one of the many other excellent journals edited by our colleagues. We hope that you will consider publishing with us in the future.
If you do decide to send us your paper, then we will be delighted to receive it. Please note that our board normally meets in January, April, June and October to consider reports from readers received in the previous three months. Papers received less than a month before a board meeting are unlikely to be fully considered at the following meeting; you may not therefore hear from us again for up to four months. Given the problems that can be experienced with some email providers (and over-zealous spam screeners), please do contact your editor or the coordinating editor if you do not receive a reply by the month following our quarterly meetings.
The JSAS Editors