Editorial Policies

Focus and Scope

The African Journal of Thoracic and Critical Care Medicine, previously the South African Respiratory Journal, is the official journal of the South African Thoracic Society. The journal accepts submissions relating to both clinical and basic research in the Pulmonology, Thoracic Surgery and Critical Care fields and state-of-the-art reviews on any topic related to the scope of the journal.

The African Journal of Thoracic and Critical Care Medicine is now SA DoHET-accredited, and indexed with NCBI databases including PubMed Central (and available on PubMed), and Scopus.




Section Policies


Checked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed


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Original research

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Correspondence: Cases

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed

Short Report

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Reviews and Guidelines

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Case reports

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed


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SATS Awards

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Breath-taking News

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Who's Who

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Product News

Checked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed


Checked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed


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Instructions to Authors

Checked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed

Research Letter

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Peer Review Process

Peer Review Process

The Editors aim to provide prompt reviews to optimise the quality of the published papers. All submissions are reviewed by an editor, who will check for scope, fit, quality, originality, interest for the readership, etc., and recommend acceptance, rejection or referral for review.

Once an article has been accepted for peer review, it is assigned to an Associate Editor who will manage it through the peer review process.

A double blind review process is followed, which means that both the reviewer and author identities are concealed from each other throughout the review process. A majority of manuscripts will be sent to two reviewers, under the management of an editor assigned to the submission. Reviewers as experts in the field provide comments to authors and editors on the importance, originality and scientific merit of the manuscript and suggest changes which may improve the quality and validity of the manuscript. The review process itself takes approximately 4 – 6 weeks to complete but can change depending upon the quality of the manuscript submitted, reviewer’s response and time taken by the authors to submit the revised manuscript.

If the decision is for revision, the author is requested to address each comment by the reviewers, and submit a letter outlining their responses accompanying their revised manuscript. The assigned editor will re-evaluate the revisions and will either make a decision or send the manuscript for a second round of review, usually to the original set of reviewers.  Reviewers will be informed of the outcome of manuscripts which they have reviewed.

The Editor-in-Chief has the final decision on any submitted manuscript.


Appeals process: The editors welcome feedback on editorial decisions. If an author believes that an editor has been mistaken in declining a paper before or subsequent to the review process, please send the editor an appeal letter outlining why you feel an incorrect decision was made, and any other responses you may have to the reviewers or editors overseeing your manuscript. This will be considered by the editor and Editor-in-Chief and a final decision communicated in due course.

Enrol as a reviewer

The AJTCCM encourages readers who are actively involved in research and with particular expertise to serve as peer reviewers of the Journal.


Accepting/declining an invitation to review

An invitation to review will be sent via email from the Editorial system, and will provide submission details such as the manuscript title and abstract. Reviewers will be asked to indicate their acceptance/decline to review by a specified date, and a date by which the review should be completed will also be provided. Reviewers can respond to the invite either by clicking on the relevant link in the email or by logging in to their Reviewer role on the Journal editorial platform, where they will see that they have a pending New Reviewer Invitation. Reviewers who accept the invite to review can access the full text article, by logging into Editorial Manager or via the link to the reviewers’ ‘pending assignments’ found in the automated acknowledgement email (received in response to the their acceptance to review). The article will be blinded and in PDF format, with the option to download in Word version. Once completed, reviewers will submit their review and recommendation on the Editorial system website.

Any queries can be directed to admin@pulmonology.co.za .


Performing/submitting a review

As a reviewer, you will be advising the editors who will make the final decision on whether or not to accept a manuscript for publication. The reviewer should provide feedback on all components of the article, including the methodology, results and discussion. The review should conclude with a recommendation: accept, accept with minor revisions, major revisions needed, or reject. Please refer to the Reviewer Guidelines which provides further guidance on completing reviews.

A tutorial on how to complete your review on Editorial Manager can be found here.

To complete a review:

  • Login to the AJTCCM Editorial platform website in the Reviewer role.
  • Ensure that you have accepted to perform the review (outlined above). Manuscripts that you have accepted to review will be located in your 'Pending Assignments' folder.
  • Click on 'View Submission' to access the PDF version of the manuscript.
  • Reviewer Guidelines can be accessed/viewed by clicking 'Submit Recommendation'.
  • Reviewers can record their comments in a separate Word file or the original PDF (if they have the necessary Adobe software) that they can upload on the 'Submit Recommendation' page or complete the reviewer questions on the aforementioned webpage.
  • All reviewers are required to complete three questions on the 'Submit Recommendation' webpage in order to submit their recommendation. Once reviewers have completed and submitted their reviews and recommendation, they can inform the handling editor by clicking 'Send Email'. An acknowledgement email will also be received by the reviewer once the review has been successfully processed on the website.


Should reviewers require additional time to review or further assistance, please contact the Editor.


Open Access Policy

The African Journal of Thoracic and Critical Care Medicine is an Open Access Journal and provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. In accordance with the definition of the Budapest Open Access Initiative all content published by the AJTCCM is made free to users without any subscription or other charges. Users are permitted to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of these articles, or use them for any other lawful, non-commercial purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author.



This journal utilises the LOCKSS system to create a distributed archiving system among participating libraries and permits those libraries to create permanent archives of the journal for purposes of preservation and restoration. More...


Comments Policy

The posting of comments to published articles requires registration with this journal website. Only constructive comments that relate to the published material will be permitted. Posted comments solely represent the opinions of the respective user and not those of the AJTCCM, and do not imply endorsement by the AJTCCM. The AJTCCM reserves the right to remove comments without notice that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, contain advertising or spam, or violate another user’s privacy. The AJTCCM reserves the right to revoke the privileges of users that post inappropriate material. Such material may be brought to the attention of the publisher (publishing@hmpg.co.za). The AJTCCM reserves the right to modify this policy without notice.



Plagiarism is defined as the use of another's work, words or ideas without attribution or permission, and representation of them as one’s own original work. Plagiarism may take many forms, ranging from major plagiarism (the copy-and-paste of large amounts of text), to minor plagiarism without dishonest intent (e.g. when an author uses parts of an introduction from an earlier paper) and even self-plagiarism (the reuse of significant, identical or near-identical portions of one's own work without citing the original version).

The journal subscribes to iThenticate, an initiative to prevent scholarly and professional plagiarism. All manuscripts submitted to the journal are automatically scanned against the iThenticate database to verify originality. 

Manuscripts containing plagiarism will not be considered for publication in the journal. If plagiarism is brought to light after a manuscript has been published, the journal will proceed to conduct a preliminary investigation. Suspected misconduct will be reported to the institutes and funding agencies of the authors concerned. The journal reserves the right to formally retract such manuscripts and publish statements to reference material as plagiarism.


Licensing Information

The AJTCCM is published under an Attribution-Non Commercial International Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY-NC 4.0) License. Under this license, authors agree to make articles available to users, without permission or fees, for any lawful, non-commercial purpose. Users may read, copy, or re-use published content as long as the author and original place of publication are properly cited.

Exceptions to this license model is allowed for UKRI and research funded by organisations requiring that research be published open-access without embargo, under a CC-BY licence. As per the journals archiving policy, authors are permitted to self-archive the author-accepted manuscript (AAM) in a repository. 


Publishing Rights

Authors grant the Publisher the exclusive right to publish, display, reproduce and/or distribute the Work in print and electronic format and in any medium known or hereafter developed, including for commercial use. The Author also agrees that the Publisher may retain in print or electronic format more than one copy of the Work for the purpose of preservation, security and back-up.

 Authors are required to complete and sign an Author Agreement form that outlines Author and Publisher rights and terms of publication. The Agreement form should be uploaded along with other submissions files and any submission will be considered incomplete without it. In undertaking this agreement, the Author represents, and warrants, either as the sole author or on behalf of the co-authors, that the Work is their own work and that the Author has the authority to enter into the Author-Publisher Agreement.


Advertising Policy

  1. All advertisements and commercially sponsored publications are independent from editorial decisions. Editorial content is not compromised by commercial or financial interests, or by any specific arrangements with advertising clients or sponsors.
  2. Advertisements may not be deceptive or misleading, and must be verifiable.
  3. Advertisements and editorial content must be clearly distinguishable. AJTCCM will not publish “advertorial” content, and sponsored supplements must be clearly indicated as such.
  4. Editorial decisions will not be influenced by current or potential sponsors and advertisers.


Editorial Board

How the journal management selects editors for the journal:  Editors are selected primarily on the basis of academic merit.  Editors must have prior publication experience, especially in high impact journals, and experience in student mentorship is highly desirable.  Other desirable attributes include publication of book chapters, involvement in policy documents, guidelines, regulatory bodies and management boards.  Consideration is also given to track-record in mentoring nascent academics who will become the next generation of researchers, academic and senior editors. 


All the editors have an academic background and are either heads of directors, or senior members of academic departments in respiratory medicine and/ or critical care.  Consideration is also given to geographical heterogeneity and transformation aspects.  For example, there are also editorial board members from other African countries from which the AJTCCM receives submissions.  There are also globally acknowledged members of the editorial board who are based in Europe and the USA.  Often they are globally recognised and key opinion leaders and examples include Professor Fan Chung and Professor Peter Barnes from Imperial College in London, and Professor Adithya Cattamanchi from UCSF in the USA. Professor Peter Barnes is globally the most cited researcher in Respiratory Medicine.


The current number of editors is based on the journal’s editorial capacity and the number of submissions it receives.  In the future, and based on the same criteria, the Journal will seek to recruit editors from elsewhere in Africa and particularly from resource poor settings in Asia.


Responsibilities of the Editor in Chief

1.      To initially screen manuscripts for suitability to the Journal and assign this to an editorial board member (Editor).

2.      To oversee the peer-review process and finally accept a manuscript after it has been handled by an editorial board member (Editor) and endorse the decision made based on reviewer comments.

3.      To oversee the overall functioning of the Journal including assigning content for each issue, and oversight of administrative matters.

4.      To devise and implement the strategic vision of the Journal including planning special issues (e.g. critical care issues), soliciting topical editorials, and special articles of interest.

5.      To convene regular editorial board meetings (held 3 to 4 times a year) and to convene a special annual editorial board meeting where matters of strategic importance, including housekeeping matters, relevant to the Journal are discussed.

6.      To oversee the proper functioning of the journal management system.

7.      To oversee quality control mechanisms.

8.      To foster and facilitate interaction between other relevant journals and respiratory societies including the American Thoracic Society, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the European Respiratory Society, and the European Respiratory Journal.


Responsibilities of the members of the editorial board:

1.      To manage manuscripts assigned to them so that they can make a decision on whether the paper merits review or should be rejected without review.

2.      To handle the editorial process including collating reviewer comments and making a final decision on whether the manuscript is accepted or rejected.

3.      To contribute editorials for original manuscripts that are selected for publication.

4.      To contribute other articles of interest including review papers and opinion pieces.

5.      To contribute to the overall strategic direction of the Journal including new types of submission categories, etc.

6.      Contribution to and supervision of special editions for the Journal.

These activities are coordinated through an annual editorial board meeting and through regular communication by the chief editor with the editorial board.



Publication ethics and Malpractice statements

The journal adheres to the core practices of the Committee on Publication Ethics  (https://publicationethics.org/core-practices) and follows COPE guidelines which outline how to deal with cases of potential publication misconduct.


The following outlines the expected duties of editors, reviewers and authors.


All submissions must conform to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. The journal requirements reflect those of the ICMJE.




Named authors must consent to publication. Authorship should be based on: (i) substantial contribution to conceptualisation, design, analysis and interpretation of data; (ii) drafting or critical revision of important scientific content; or (iii) approval of the version to be published. These conditions must all be met for an individual to be included as an author (uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals; refer to www.icmje.org)


 Contributors who meet fewer than all 4 of the above criteria for authorship should not be listed as authors, but they should be acknowledged.


If authors’ names are added or deleted after submission of an article, or the order of the names is changed, all authors must agree to this in writing.




Please note that co-authors will be requested to verify their contribution upon submission. Non-verification may lead to delays in the processing of submissions.


Author contributions should be listed/described in the manuscript.


Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest can derive from any kind of relationship or association that may influence authors’ or reviewers’ opinions about the subject matter of a paper. The existence of a conflict – whether actual, perceived or potential – does not preclude publication of an article. However, we aim to ensure that, in such cases, readers have all the information they need to enable them to make an informed assessment about a publication’s message and conclusions. We require that both authors and reviewers declare all sources of support for their research, any personal or financial relationships (including honoraria, speaking fees, gifts received, etc) with relevant individuals or organisations connected to the topic of the paper, and any association with a product or subject that may constitute a real, perceived or potential conflict of interest. If you are unsure whether a specific relationship constitutes a conflict, please contact the editorial team for advice. If a conflict remains undisclosed and is later brought to the attention of the editorial team, it will be considered a serious issue prompting an investigation with the possibility of retraction.


Authors: Conflict of interest statements are published alongside the content published.  Please download and submit the conflict of interest form available here: http://www.icmje.org/conflicts-of-interest/

The authors should indicate how they managed any conflicts of interest with their initial submission. If the Editors determine that a conflict may have influenced any part of a manuscript, the author(s) will be given an opportunity to respond and if necessary to submit additional information indicating how they balanced the conflict.
Declaration of funding sources
All sources of funding are to be declared and will be published at the end of the text
The authors must also describe in their Acknowledgement or Contributions section at the end of the text, the role of the study 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 paper for publication. If the funding source had no such involvement, the authors should state this

Reviewers are requested to indicate and describe any conflict of interest when they complete/submit their review via our manuscript tracking system.

Editors: Where members of the editorial board are co-authors on manuscripts, independent editorial board members with no publication or grant links to the editorial member involved will be used to manage those submissions. Independent reviewers will be used and the entire review and publication process will be indeoendent of the particular editorial member who is co-author.
A disclosure statement to this effect will be included in the published article.


Privacy statement

The AJTCCM is committed to protecting the privacy of its website and submission system users. The names, personal particulars and email addresses entered in the website or submission system will not be made available to any  third party without the user’s permission or due process. By registering to use the website or submission system, users consent to receive communication from the AJTCCM or its publisher HMPG on matters relating to the journal or associated publications. Queries with regard to privacy may be directed to publishing@samedical.org.


Protection of rights to privacy

Patient Consent

All studies that involve patients or volunteers require approval from a research ethics commitee and informed consent from all participants. The signed consent forms should be retained by the author but a statement indicating that informed consent has been obtained should be included in the article.

Information that would enable identification of individual patients should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, radiographs and pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) has given informed written consent for publication and distribution. We further recommend that the published article is disseminated not only to the involved researchers but also to the patients/participants from whom the data was drawn. Refer to Protection of Research Participants.


Other individuals

Any individual who is identifiable in an image must provide written agreement that the image may be used in that context in the AJTCCM.



Article Processing Charges

AJTCCM is an open access journal run by the South African Thoracic Society (not for profit entity) from donations, conference proceedings and unrestricted educational grants.  Rising publication and running costs means that, unfortunately, we have to levy publication charges to facilitate a sustainable open access dissemination platform. 

The publication charges for accepted papers, effective from 1 September 2023, are as follows:

  1. A student or trainee-led output: R5 000 (ZAR)
  2. For a non-students/ non-trainee led output: R7 500 (ZAR)
  3. Optional charge for senior investigators and research units: R15 000 (ZAR)

1 and 2 above are mandatory charges but a waiver may be applied for and will be considered on a case by case basis (this can be via a cover letter of not more than 1 page motivating and providing reasons for requesting a waiver). 

We strongly encourage and welcome senior investigators and established research units to contribute to sustainability of this open access platform for African researchers. 

All billing will be done via the SATS administrative and editorial office.


Errata and retractions



Should you become aware of an error or inaccuracy in yours or someone else’s contribution after it has been published, please inform us as soon as possible via an email to publishing@samedical.org,including the following details:

  • Journal, volume and issue in which published
  • Article title and authors
  • Description of error and details of where it appears in the published article
  • Full detail of proposed correction and rationale


We will investigate the issue and provide feedback. If appropriate, we will correct the web version immediately, and will publish an erratum in the next issue. All investigations will be conducted in accordance with guidelines provided by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).



Retraction of an article is the prerogative of either the original authors or the editorial team of HMPG. Should you wish to withdraw your article before publication, we need a signed statement from all the authors.


Should you wish to retract your published article, all authors have to agree in writing before publication of the retraction.

Send an email to publishing@samedical.org including the following details:

  • Journal, volume and issue to which article was submitted/in which article was published
  • Article title and authors
  • Description of reason for withdrawal/retraction.


We will make a decision on a case-by-case basis upon review by the editorial committee in line with international best practices. Comprehensive feedback will be communicated with the authors with regard to the process. In case where there is any suspected fraud or professional misconduct, we will follow due process as recommended by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and in liaison with any relevant institutions.


When a retraction is published, it will be linked to the original article.


Author self-archiving

Authors may post their article in an institutional or subject repository or on a preprint server.