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Academy queries accreditation of over a third of South African education journals


Review warns of deficiencies in seven of 17 journals—a ‘surprising’ number

Nearly half of the education research journals endorsed by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training should lose their accreditation, the country’s science academy has said. 

In a report published on 9 June, the Academy of Science of South Africa says three out of 17 government-accredited education journals should lose their accreditation outright, while four others should get a year to fix issues to do with peer review and editorial policies. 

“A surprising number of journals had deficient editorial policies or policies that were not made public,” the report warns.

The report is part of ASSAf’s Grouped Peer Review of Scholarly Journals studies, through which a panel of experts in a thematic area evaluates South Africa-based journals in the field. The panel examines journals on criteria that include peer review, publication schedules, editorial boards, policies, and bibliometric indicators.

The report said three problems were noted across all the journals: a “considerable variation in quality” of papers, even within editions; not enough support for young researchers; and a variation in article charges ranging from open access to R3,000 per article.

Another recurring criticism is that journals lack diversity, both in content and on editorial boards, and that many journals did not have international editors or contributors. The report said too great a local focus could be “exclusive and restrictive” and “contradict the ideals of openness and inclusivity in journal publishing”.

Two journals that the panel wants to strip of their accreditation immediately are listed on the Scopus database. These are Perspectives in Education and Per Linguam: A journal of language learning. The third is the Journal of Education Studies, published by the country’s University of Venda, whose dean of education is automatically appointed as its editor—something the review took issue with.

By contrast, the review panel praised two journals targeting mathematics and science education. The African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education was listed as good quality and praised for its “developmental slant”. The Southern African Journal of Environmental Education was listed as producing good quality research and being the only one in its field on the continent.