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Structure and style of your original research article

The page provides an overview of the structure and style of your original research article to be submitted to the South African Journal of Information Management. The original article provides an overview of innovative research in a particular field within or related to the focus and scope of the journal presented according to a clear and well-structured format (between 3500 and 7000 words with a maximum of 60 references).

Please use British English, that is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Avoid Americanisms (e.g. use ‘s’ and not ‘z’). Consult the Oxford English Dictionary when in doubt and remember to set your version of Microsoft Word to UK English.

  • Language: Manuscripts must be written in British English.
  • Line numbers: Insert continuous line numbers.
  • Font:
    • Font type: Palatino 
    • Symbols font type: Times New Roman 
    • General font size: 12pt 
  • Line spacing: 1.5
  • Headings: Ensure that formatting for headings is consistent in the manuscript.
    • First headings: normal case, bold and 14pt
    • Second headings: normal case, underlined and 14pt
    • Third headings: normal case, bold and 12pt
    • Fourth headings: normal case, bold, running-in text and separated by a colon.

Our publication system supports a limited range of formats for text and graphics. Text files can be submitted in the following formats only:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc): We cannot accept Word 2007 DOCX files. If you have created your manuscript using Word 2007, you must save the document as a Word 2003 file before submission.
  • Rich Text Format (RTF) documents uploaded during Step 2 of the submission process. Users of other word processing packages should save or convert their files to RTF before uploading. Many free tools are available that will make  this process easier.

 For full details on how to ensure your manuscript adheres to the house style, click here.

The structure and style of your original article

Page 1

The format of the compulsory cover letter forms part of your submission and is on the first page of your manuscript and should always be presented in English. You should provide all of the following elements:

  • Article title: Provide a short title of 50 characters or less.
  • Significance of work: Briefly state the significance of the work being reported on.
  • Full author details: Provide title(s), full name(s), position(s), affiliation(s) and contact details (postal address, email, telephone and cellular number) of each author. 
  • Corresponding author: Identify to whom all correspondence should be addressed to.
  • Authors’ contributions: Briefly summarise the nature of the contribution made by each of the authors listed.
  • Summary: Lastly, a list containing the number of words, pages, tables, figures and/or other supplementary material should accompany the submission.

Page 2 and onwards

Title: The article’s full title should contain a maximum of 95 characters (including spaces).

Abstract: The abstract, written in English, should be no longer than 250 words and must be written in the past tense. The abstract should give a succinct account of the objectives, methods, results and significance of the matter. The structured abstract for an Original Research article should consist of five paragraphs labelled Background, Objectives, Method, Results and Conclusion.

  • Background: Why is the problem important to us?  State the context and purpose of the study (that is, mention what practical, scientific or theoretical gap your research is filling).
  • Objectives: What problem are you trying to solve? What is the scope of your work (is it a generalised approach or for specific situation)? Be careful not to use too much jargon.
  • Method: How did you go about solving or making progress on the problem? How was the study performed and which statistical tests were used (what did you actually do to get the results)? Clearly express the basic design of the study, name or briefly describe the basic methodology used without going into excessive detail. Be sure to indicate the key techniques used.
  • Results: What is the answer? State the main findings. (As a result of completing the above procedure or study, what did you learn, invent or create?) Identify trends, relative change or differences on answers to questions.
  • Conclusion: What are the implications of your answer? Briefly summarise any potential implications (e.g.  the larger implications of your findings, especially for the problem or gap identified in your motivation).

Do not cite references in the abstract and do not use abbreviations excessively in the abstract.

The following headings serve as a guide for presenting your research in a well-structure format. As an author you should include all first level headings but subsequent headings (second and third level headings) can be changed.

Introduction (first-level heading): The introduction contains two subsections, namely the background section and the literature review.

  • Problem statement (second-level heading): The problem statement, also referred to as the setting section, should be written from the viewpoint of readers, that is, without specialist knowledge in that area. This statement must clearly state and illustrate the introduction to the research and its aims in the context of previous work bearing directly on the subject. The setting section to the article normally contains the following five elements: 
  • Key focus (third-level heading): A thought-provoking introductory statement on the broad theme or topic of the research.   
  • Background (third-level heading): Background or the context to the study (explaining the role of other relevant key variables in this study).    
  • Trends (third-level heading): The most important published studies previously conducted on this topic or that has any relevance to this study (provide a high-level synopsis of the research literature on this topic).   
  • Objectives (third-level heading): Indicate the most important controversies, gaps and inconsistencies in the literature that will be addressed by this study. In view of the above trends, state the core research problem and specific research objectives that will be addressed in this study and provide the reader with an outline of what to expect in the rest of the article.   
  • Contribution to field (third-level heading): Explanation of the study’s academic (theoretical and methodological) or practical merit and/or importance (provide the value-add and/or rationale for the study). 

Literature review (second-level heading): The literature review is the second subsection under the Introduction and provides a brief and concise overview of the literature under a separate second-level heading, e.g. literature review. A synthesis and critical evaluation of the literature (not a compilation of citations and references) should at least include or address the following elements (ensure these are in the literature review):

  • definitions of all conceptual (theoretical) key concepts
  • a critical review and summary of previous research findings (theories, models, frameworks, etc.) on the topic
  • a clear indication of the gap in the literature and for the necessity to address this void
  • a clearly established link that exists between formulated research objectives and theoretical support from the relevant literature.

Research method and design (first-level heading): The methods should include:

  • Materials (second-level heading): Describe the type of organism(s) or material(s) involved in the study.  
  • Setting (second-level heading): Describe the site and setting where your field study was conducted.  
  • Design (second-level heading): Describe your experimental design clearly, including a power calculation, if appropriate. Note: additional details can be placed as an online supplementary addendum.  
  • Procedure (second-level heading): Describe the protocol for your study in sufficient detail (with a clear description of all interventions and comparisons) so that other scientists could repeat your work to verify your findings.  
  • Analyses (second-level heading): Describe how the data were summarised and analysed, with additional details placed in the online supplementary information.

Results (first-level heading): This section provides a synthesis of the obtained literature grouped or categorised according to an organising or analysis principle. 

Tables may be used or models may be drafted to indicate key components of the results of the study.

  • Organise the results based on the sequence of tables and figures that you will include in the manuscript.
  • The body of the Results section is a text presentation of the key findings, which includes references to each of the tables and figures.
  • Statistical test summaries (test name, p-value) are usually reported parenthetically (that is, inserted as a parenthesis in brackets) together with the biological results they support; use SI unit.
  • Present the results of your experiment(s)/research data in a sequence that will logically support (or provide evidence against) the hypothesis or answer the question that was stated in the Introduction.

All units should conform to the SI convention and be abbreviated accordingly. Metric units and their international symbols are used throughout, as is the decimal point (not the decimal comma).  

Ethical considerations (first-level heading): Articles based on the involvement of humans have been conducted in accordance with relevant national and international guidelines. Approval must have been obtained for all protocols from the author's institutional or other relevant ethics committee and the institution’s name and permit numbers should be provided at submission.

  • Potential benefits and hazards (second-level heading: What risks to the subject are entailed in involvement in the research? Are there any potential physical, psychological or disclosure dangers that can be anticipated? What is the possible benefit or harm to the subject or society as a result of their participation or from the project as a whole? What  procedures have been established for the care and protection of subjects (e.g. insurance, medical cover) and the control of any information gained from them or about them?  
  • Recruitment procedures (second-level heading): Was there any sense in subjects being obliged to participate – as in the case of students, prisoners, learners or patients – or were volunteers being recruited? If participation was compulsory, the potential consequences of non-compliance must be indicated to subjects; if voluntary, entitlement to withdraw consent must be indicated as well as when that entitlement lapses.  
  • Informed consent (second-level heading): Authors must include how informed consent was handled in the study.  
  • Data protection (second-level heading: Authors must include in detail the way in which data protection was handled.

Trustworthiness (first-level heading): This refers to the findings of the study being based on the discovery of human experience as it was experienced and observed by the participants.

  • Reliability (second-level heading): Reliability is the extent to which an experiment, test, or any measuring procedure yields the same result on repeated trials. Without the agreement of independent observers able to replicate research procedures, or the ability to use research tools and procedures that yield consistent measurements,  researchers would be unable to satisfactorily draw  conclusions, formulate theories, or make claims about their research’ ability to be generalised.    
  • Validity (second-level heading): Validity refers to the degree to which a study accurately reflects or assesses the specific concept that the researcher is attempting to measure. While reliability is concerned with the accuracy of the actual measuring instrument or procedure, validity is concerned with the study's success at measuring what the researchers set out to measure. Researchers should be concerned with both external and internal validity. External validity refers to the extent to which the results of a study are generalisable or transferable. Internal validity refers to:
    • the rigor with which the study was conducted (e.g. the study's design, the care taken to conduct measurements, and decisions concerning what was and wasn't measured).
    • the extent to which the designers of a study have taken into account alternative explanations for any causal relationships they explore. 

In studies that do not explore causal relationships, only the first of these definitions should be considered when assessing internal validity.  

Discussion (first-level heading): This section normally contains the following four elements.  It is suggested that subheadings are used in this section:

  • Outline of the results (second-level heading): Restate the main objective of the study and reaffirm the importance of the study by restating its main contributions; summarise the results in relation to each stated research objective or research hypothesis; link the findings back to the literature and to the results reported by other researchers; provide explanations for unexpected results.  
  • Practical implications (second-level heading): Reaffirm the importance of the study by restating its main contributions and provide the implications for the practical implementation your research.  

Limitations of the study (first-level heading): Point out the possible limitations of the study and provide suggestions for future research. 

  • Recommendations (second-level heading): Provide the recommendations emerging out of the current research.

 
Conclusion (first-level heading): This should state clearly the main conclusions of the research and give a clear explanation of their importance and relevance, with a recommendation for future research (implications for practice). Provide a brief conclusion that restates the objectives, the research design, the results and their meaning or significance.

Acknowledgements (first-level heading): If, through your study, you received any significant help in conceiving, designing, or carrying out the work, or received materials from someone who did you a favour by supplying them, you must acknowledge their assistance and the service or material provided.Authors should always acknowledge outside reviewers of their drafts and any sources of funding that supported the research.

  • Competing interests (second-level heading): A competing interest exists when your interpretation of data or presentation of information may be influenced by your personal or financial relationship with other people or organisations that can potentially prevent you from executing and publishing unbiased research. Authors should disclose any financial competing interests but also any non-financial competing interests that may cause them embarrassment were they to become public after the publication of the manuscript. Where an author gives no competing interests, the listing will read:

‘The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationship(s) that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.’   

  • Authors' contributions (second-level heading): This section is necessary to give appropriate credit to each author, and to the authors' applicable institution. The individual contributions of authors should be specified with their affiliation at the time of the study and completion of the work. An ‘author’ is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a published study.  Contributions made by each of the authors listed, can follow the example below (please note the use of author initials):

J.K. (University of Pretoria) was the project leader, L.M.N. (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and A.B. (Stellenbosch University) were responsible for experimental and project design. L.M.N. performed most of the experiments. P.R. (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) made conceptual contributions and S.T. (University of Cape Town), U.V. (University of Cape Town) and C.D. (University of Cape Town) performed some of the experiments. S.M. (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) and V.C. (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) prepared the samples and calculations were performed by C.S.(Cape Peninsula University of Technology).

References (first-level heading): Begin the reference list on a separate page with no more than 60 references. The South African Journal of Information Management uses the Harvard referencing style, details of which can be downloaded from the journal website. Note: no other style will be permitted. 



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