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Criteria for publication

  • The article falls within the scope of the journal.
  • Methods, statistics, and other analyses are performed to a high technical standard and are described in sufficient detail.
  • Results reported have not been published elsewhere.
  • Conclusions are presented in an appropriate fashion and are supported by the data.
  • The article is presented in an intelligible fashion and is written in standard English (British usage).
  • The research meets all applicable ethical standards.
  • The article adheres to guidelines provided in the instructions for authors section.

Guidelines for authorship

  • Each author should participate and is responsible for the content and design of the study, the preparation of the manuscript and its revisions, and final approval.
  • Other "contributors" can be acknowledged at the end of the manuscript together with their contribution.
  • Authors of manuscripts representing a multi-centre study may list members of the group in the footnote on the title page of the published article and their affiliations are listed in an appendix.
  • The authors should clearly indicate the predominant surgeon or surgeons who have contributed patients.
  • On submission of your article the ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) identifier of all authors will be required. ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized. To register and find more information please visit:

Registration of clinical trials

  • A clinical trial is defined as any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects of health outcomes. Interventions include drugs, surgical procedures, devices, behavioural treatments, dietary interventions, and process-of-care changes.
  • Clinical Trials should be registered in a public trials registry in accordance with International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.
  • Trials must register and approved by the relevant authorities before the onset of patient enrolment.
  • The Medicines Control Council (MCC) reference number and the SA National Clinical Trial Register (SANCTR) registration number should be included at the end of the abstract of the article.
  • Purely observational studies (those in which the assignment of the medical intervention is not at the discretion of the investigator) will not require registration.

Reporting guidelines

All articles should be prepared in accordance with the guidelines relevant to the study design that was used (listed below).

Randomised trials should be accompanied by a flow diagram that illustrates the progress of patients through the trial, including recruitment, enrolment, randomisation, withdrawal and completion, and a detailed description of the randomisation procedure.

Role of funding source

You are requested to identify who provided financial support for the conduct of the research and/or preparation of the article and to briefly describe the role of the sponsor(s), if any, in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication. If the funding source(s) had no such involvement, then this should be stated.

Formatting of submissions

Text formatting

  • Use Arial font, size 11.
  • 1,5 spacing throughout the document. 
  • Pages of the blinded manuscript should be numbered consecutively.
  • Use the automatic page numbering function to number the pages.
  • Use italics for emphasis.
  • When referring to an article with multiple authors please use the following format: Rabinowitz et al. published their retrospective review.
  • Do not use field functions.
  • Use tab stops or other commands for indents, not the space bar.
  • Use the table function, not spreadsheets, to make tables.
  • Use the equation editor or MathType for equations.
  • Save your file in docx format (Word 2007 or higher) or doc format (older Word versions).


Please use no more than three levels of displayed headings.


Abbreviations and acronyms should be defined at first mention and used consistently thereafter.


Follow internationally accepted rules and conventions: use the international system of units (SI). If other units are mentioned, please give their equivalent in SI.


  • Figures should be numbered consecutively with illustration Arabic numbers 1, 2, 3 etc.
  • The figure should be listed in the text as follows: ... wound irrigation and splinting (Figure 1).
  • Figures should be clear and easily understandable with a full descriptive legend stating any areas of interest and explaining any markings, letterings or notations. All figures should be understandable without the main text.
  • For radiographs please ensure you state view used and the time point at which it was taken, as well as the demographic details of the patient if applicable.
  • Figures should not be imbedded in the text file, but should be submitted as separate individual files. Each figure should be a separate file, entitled Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.
  • Remove all markings, such as patient identification, from radiographs before photographing.
  • All line or original drawings must be done by a professional medical illustrator.
  • We accept a maximum of 6 figures.
  • Do not submit any figures, photos, tables, or other works that have been previously copyrighted or that contain proprietary data unless you have and can supply written permission from the copyright holder to use that content.
  • Randomised trials should be accompanied by a flow diagram that illustrates the progress of patients through the trial, including recruitment, enrollment, randomisation, withdrawal and completion, and a detailed description of the randomisation procedure.


  • Tables should carry uppercase Roman numerals, I, II, III, etc.
  • Tables should always be cited in text in consecutive numerical order.
  • The table should be identified in the text as follows: Details of results are listed in Table I. Or, alternatively, high-energy trauma that is often associated with these fractures (Table II).
  • Tables should be used to present information in a clear and concise manner. All tables should be understandable without the main text.
  • For each table, please supply a table caption (title) explaining the components of the table.
  • Identify any previously published material by giving the original source in the form of a reference at the end of the table caption.
  • Footnotes to tables should be indicated by superscript lower-case letters and included beneath the table body.
  • Please submit tables as editable text and not as images. They should be created using the Table tool in Word.
  • Table should not be imbedded in the text file, but should be submitted as separate individual files. Each table should be a separate file, entitled Table 1, Table 2, etc.
  • We accept a maximum of 8 tables.
  • Do not duplicate information given already in the text.
  • Do not submit any figures, photos, tables, or other works that have been previously copyrighted or that contain proprietary data unless you have and can supply written permission from the copyright holder to use that content.


  • References should be numbered consecutively in the order that they are first mentioned in the text and listed at the end in numerical order of appearance.
  • Identify references in the text by Arabic numerals in superscript after punctuation.
  • References should not be a listing of a computerised literature search but should have been read by the authors and have pertinence to the manuscript.
  • Authors should add DOIs to all references in articles.
  • Accuracy of references is the author’s responsibility and the author is to verify the references against the original documents.
  • Manuscripts in preparation, unpublished data (including articles submitted but not in the press) and personal communications may not be included in the reference listing. They may be listed in the text in parentheses only if absolutely necessary to the contents and meaning of the article.
  • The titles of journals should be abbreviated according to the style used in Index Medicus, obtainable through the website http://www.nlm.nih.govshould
  • The following format should be used for references:

Journal Articles:
Sidhu GS, Ghag A, Prokuski V, Vaccaro AR, Radcliff KE. Civilian gunshot injuries of the spinal cord: a systematic review of the current literature. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2013;471:3945-55.

Ideally, the names of all authors should be provided, but the usage of “et al” in long author lists (more than 6 authors) will also be accepted: Fong K, Truong V, Foote CJ, et al. Predictors of nonunion and reoperation in patients with fractures of the tibia: an observational study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2013;14:103.

On-line journal article:
Caetano-Lopes J, Lopes A, Rodrigues A, et al. Upregulation of inflammatory genes and downregulation of sclerostin gene expression are key elements in the early phase of fragility fracture healing. PLoS One 2011;6:e16947.

Web reference (with authors):
Cierny G, DiPasquale D. Adult osteomyelitis protocol.
(date last accessed 05 March 2013).

Web reference (no authors listed):
No authors listed. International commission on radiological protection. (date last accessed 20 September 2009).

Chapter in a book:
Young W. Neurophysiology of spinal cord injury. In: Errico TJ, Bauer RD, Waugh T (eds). Spinal Trauma. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott; 1991: 377-94.

Borkowski MM. Infant sleep and feeding: a telephone survey of Hispanic Americans [dissertation]. Mount Pleasant (MI): Central Michigan University; 2002.

Peterson L. Osteochondritis of the knee treated with autologous chondrocyte transplantation [abstract]. ISAKOS Congress, 2001.

Structure and content of submission 

We accept a maximum of 3500 words including abstract, body of the text (excluding references). Exceptions to this rule may be made for systematic reviews and meta-analysis, at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief.

Please follow the following structure when preparing your submission.

  • Title page (Title, authors and affiliations, corresponding author and declarations)
  • Blinded Manuscript (Abstract, key words, introduction, methods, results, discussion, funding sources, conflict of interest statement, ethical statement, acknowledgements and references)
  • Tables (with headings), each as a separate file.
  • Figures (with legends), each as a separate file.

Title page


The title should be concise and informative.

Author names and affiliations:

Please provide the following information for each author:

  • Full names and surname, as well as title (please check that all names are accurately spelled)
  • Qualifications
  • Affiliation and address (indicate all affiliations with a lower-case superscript letter immediately after the author's name and in front of the appropriate affiliation details)
  • ORCID ID (see Article Submission section)

Provide the full postal address of each affiliation, including the country name and, if available, the email address of each author.

Corresponding author

Clearly indicate who will handle correspondence at all stages of refereeing and publication, also post-publication.

Ensure that the email address and permanent address is given and that contact details are kept up to date by the corresponding author.

Please note that the corresponding author’s contact details will be provided in the final article.

Please provide the following information for the corresponding author:

  • Full names and title
  • Affiliation
  • Physical address
  • Postal address
  • Telephone Number
  • Email address

Please provide the names and email addresses of two potential reviewers.


Authors are to insert a section at the end of the title page entitled declarations. Following the declarations all authors need to sign the document (please provide name of author, signature and date). The following statements is required under the declarations section:


The authors confirm that all authors have made substantial contributions to all of the following:

  • The conception and design of the study, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data.
  • Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content.
  • Final approval of the version to be submitted.
  • Sound scientific research practice

The authors further confirm that:

  • The manuscript, including related data, figures and tables has not been previously published and is not under consideration elsewhere
  • No data have been fabricated or manipulated (including images) to support your conclusions
  • This submission does not represent a part of single study that has been split up into several parts to increase the quantity of submissions and submitted to various journals or to one journal over time (e.g. “salami-publishing”).

Author contributions

Please state the contributions of each author
• For example: “A.B contributed to study conceptualization, design, data analysis and manuscript preparation. C.D. contributed to data collection and manuscript preparation. E.F. contributed to ....”
• The types of contributions are:
o Conceptualization and design
o Data collection or contribution
o Data analysis
o Manuscript preparation
o Other contribution (please specify)


  • The authors confirm that the work submitted is original and does not transgress the plagiarism policy of the journal.
  • No data, text, or theories by others are presented as if they were the author’s own.
  • Proper acknowledgements of other’s work has been given (this includes material that is closely copied, summarized and/or paraphrased), quotation marks are used for verbatim copying of material.
  • Permissions have been secured for material that is copyrighted.

Conflict of interest statement

A conflicting interest exists when professional judgement concerning a primary interest (such as patient’s welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain or personal rivalry). It represents a situation in which financial or other personal considerations from authors, reviewers or editors have the potential to compromise or bias professional judgment and objectivity. It may arise for the authors when they have financial interest that may influence their interpretation of their results or those of others. Examples of potential conflicts of interest include employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony, patent applications/registrations, and grants or other funding. All potential conflicts of interest need to be declared. The conflict of interest statement should list each author separately by name, i.e.

“John Smith declares that he has no conflict of interest. Paula Taylor has received research grants from Drug Company A. Mike Schultz has received a speaker honorarium from Drug Company B and owns stock in Drug Company C.”

If multiple authors declare no conflict, this can be done in one sentence

Funding sources

All sources of funding should be declared. Also define the involvement of study sponsors in the study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data; the writing of the manuscript; the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. If the study sponsors had no such involvement, this should be stated.

Compliance with ethical guidelines

For all publications:

“The author/s declare that this submission is in accordance with the principles laid down by the Responsible Research Publication Position Statements as developed at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity in Singapore, 2010.”

Available from:

Institutional Review Board (IRB) ethical approval must have been given if the study involves human subjects or animals. Please provide the approval number. IRB documentation should be available upon request.

“Prior to commencement of the study ethical approval was obtained from the following ethical review board: Provide name and reference number”

For studies with human subjects include the following:

“All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008.”

“Informed written consent was or was not obtained from all patients for being included in the study.”

For studies with animals include the following sentence:

“All institutional and national guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals were followed.”

For articles that do not contain studies with human or animal subjects:

“This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects.”

If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration, the authors must explain the rationale for their approach, and demonstrate that the institutional review body explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study. If any identifying information about patients is included in the article, the following sentence should also be included: Additional informed consent was obtained from all patients for which identifying information is included in this article. The Helsinki Declaration 2008 can be found at


Blinded manuscript


A structured abstract (maximum of 350 words), summarising the most important points in the article is required.

The abstract consisting of four paragraphs with the subheadings:

  • Aims (It is unnecessary to include an introductory section)
  • Patients and methods
  • Results
  • Conclusion

References should be avoided. Avoid uncommon abbreviations. If essential they must be defined at their first mention in the abstract itself


Immediately after the abstract, provide a maximum of 6 keywords, using standard searchable terms. These keywords will be used for indexing purposes.

Level of evidence

Level 1 to 5.

Please follow the level of evidence guidelines provided by the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (OCEBM); version 2.1.

Available from: OCEBM Levels of Evidence Working Group. “The Oxford Levels of Evidence 2”.Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine.


The introduction should contextualise the study by providing the background to the research; explain the problem that is to be addressed and provide the rationale for the study.

Briefly outline the relevance if the study in respect to the current literature. Avoid a detailed literature survey or a summary of the results.

The last sentence should outline the research question or hypothesis.

Patients (or Materials) and Methods

State the methods, outcome measures, and selection criteria. The following aspects needs to be described:

  • The study design and research methodology.
  • Whether randomization (with methods) was applied.
  • If case controlled, how the controls were selected.
  • The time period under review.
  • Number of patients/subjects under investigation and why this number was chosen.
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria.
  • Case and outcome definitions.
  • Description of procedure or intervention, including post-operative protocol.
  • The outcome measures or scores were used.
  • The minimum follow-up period.
  • A statistical analysis section should be included at the end of this section to detail statistical tests and package used, the reasons why these tests were used, and what p-value was considered statistically significant. A power analysis is recommended for studies comparing two or more groups.
  • Provide sufficient detail so that another researcher can replicate the study.
  • The reader should understand from this description all potential sources of bias such as referral, diagnosis, exclusion, recall, or treatment bias. This includes the manner in which investigators selected the patients. Consecutive inclusion implies all patients with a given diagnosis are included, while selective implies patients with a given diagnosis but selected according to certain explicit criteria (e.g. state of disease, choice of treatment).
  • Do not describe standard procedure for common operations. Only include new procedures or adaptations to standard procedure.
  • If you name any specific product, then it requires the name, city and state/country of the manufacturer.
  • Present in narrative format and use past tense.
  • Where relevant, tables or figures may be included to provide information more clearly.
  • Generally, no data should normally be presented in this section.


  • Describe the relevant results and analysis thereof.
  • Provide details of the number of patients included and excluded, as well as the reason for exclusion.
  • It is important to state the follow-up period (mean and range).
  • The results can be broken down into separate sections, e.g. Treatment, Functional outcome, Complications, etc.
  • Tables may be used but avoid repeating data reported in the text in the tables.
  • All appropriate data should be presented as means with ranges, not with standard deviations (SDs). Medians should only be used when the data is skewed, accompanied by an interquartile range (IQR).
  • Avoid using percentages in studies involving well under 100 subjects.
  • All results must be backed-up with p-values or survivorship analysis. All Kaplan-Meier data should be presented with the confidence intervals. Always present exact absolute p-values, whether significant or not, unless p < 0.001.
  • However, p-values do not always convey the entire picture and where relevant the confidence interval will also be required (in addition to the power of the study reported in the methods section).


  • The question or hypothesis stated at the end of the introduction should be discussed and supported or rejected.
  • The results must be interpreted clearly and any deficiencies expressed. All possible confounding factors, sources of bias, weaknesses in the study should be identified.
  • Explore the significance of the results of the work, rather than repeating the results.
  • The discussion must point out the relevance of the work described in the paper and its contribution to current knowledge.
  • Explain what can be deduced from the results and how will it affect clinical practice should be clearly stated
  • Should include a review of the relevant literature, placing the results of the study in the context of previous work in this area.
  • Discussion of relevant prior research and references must be concise. Avoid extensive citations and discussion of published literature but put emphasis on previous findings that agree (or disagree) with those of the present study.
  • Do not repeat the introduction.
  • The limitations of the study must be presented and suggest how the study could have been improved for a future study.
  • Authors should avoid making inferences from non-significant trends unless they believe their study is adequately powered to answer the question; in that case, provide a power analysis.


Summary statement which conveys the conclusions of the findings. Do not draw conclusions not supported by the data obtained from the specific study presented.

Conflict of interest

“Author A.B. (use initials of relevant author, not full name in order for the document to remain blinded) has received research grants from Company A. Author B.C. has received a speaker honorarium from Company X and owns stock in Company Y. Author C.D. is a member of committee Z.”

If no conflicts of interest exists, please state this as follows: “The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest that are directly or indirectly related to the research.”

Ethical statement

  • For studies involving human subjects please include an ethical statement as follows: “All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.”
  • For animal studies please include the following ethical statement: “All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.”
  • If the study did not involve human or animal subjects state that: “This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.”
  • Please also include an informed consent statement: “Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.”
  • Or alternatively, for retrospective studies, please add the following sentence: “For this study formal consent was not required.”
  • If identifying information about participants is available in the article, the following statement should be included: “Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in this article.”

Funding sources

List all funding sources as follows: “This work was supported by the xxxx (grant numbers xxxx, yyyy).”

When funding is from a block grant or other resources available to a university, college, or other research institution, submit the name of the institute or organization that provided the funding.

If no funding was received please state as follows: “No funding was received for this study.”


Should be placed at the end of the discussion and prior to the references. In this section persons who were involved but did not earn authorship can be acknowledged. Should be brief and should not anonymous editors or referees. A person can be thanked for assistance or for comments.

Author contributions

Please state the contributions of each author
• For example: “A.B contributed to study conceptualization, design, data analysis and manuscript preparation. C.D. contributed to data collection and manuscript preparation. E.F. contributed to ....”
• The types of contributions are:
o Conceptualization and design
o Data collection or contribution
o Data analysis
o Manuscript preparation
o Other contribution (please specify)


Please refer to formatting of submissions section.

Tables and Figures

Table and figures should not be imbedded in the text file, but should be submitted as separate individual files. Each table should be a separate file, entitled Table I, Figure 2, etc.

Each table and figure should be provided with a heading or legend.

Please refer to the ‘Formatting of Submission’ section for further guidelines.


Current Concepts Review


In November 2018 the SAOJ Editorial Board commissioned the inclusion of one “Current Concepts Review” paper per issue. All University departments will be scheduled to contribute one paper ever 2nd year. The University via the Head of Department will the nominate expert author to be responsible for preparation the review article. We recommend that multiple authors are involved and in particular advocate collaborating with experts from other institutions to get a broader view on the topic.

General Guidelines

  • A narrative review will suffice (and systematic or scoping review not necessary)
  • A thorough literature review needs to be done prior to writing the manuscript to ensure that the author is well acquainted with the current concepts related to the topic (with emphasis on the most recent developments)
  • A balanced and unbiased view of the current clinical aspects of the topic.
  • Focus on clinical aspects like diagnosis and treatment.
  • Discuss controversies and state both sides of the argument.
  • Avoid extensive discussion of basic science (anatomy/physiology/pathology) aspects, except if there are some really novel and clinically-relevant new developments in the field.
  • The topic may be adapted, but only with the permission of the Editor-in-Chief.


Outline of Article

  • Abstract = One paragraph, no headings, ≤350 words.
  • Introduction = Brief introduction to the topic
  • Contents = Please use headings (in bold) and sub-headings (in italics) to structure to manuscript in reader-friendly manner
  • South African context = Discuss matters which may be particularly relevant or unique to the South African clinical setting.
  • Learning points = Make use of tables to summarize important learning points
  • Conclusion = Brief evidence-based conclusion and summary
  • Conflict of interest statement
  • Funding
  • References = As usual

Review Process

  • Each submission will be peer-reviewed by 2 members of the editorial board