Revised April 2020

Statement of policy

Welcome to the AJSW, a journal published by the National Association of Social Workers (Zimbabwe) since 1999. The journal’s definition of African social work, derived from the international definition reads as follows:

Social work is an academic discipline and profession that embraces and enhances long-held methods of addressing life challenges in order to achieve social functioning, development, cohesion and liberation using diverse African indigenous knowledges and values enshrined in the family, community, society, environment and spirituality (AJSW, 2020).

The African Journal of Social Work (AJSW) is a refereed journal that serves as a forum for exchanging ideas and knowledge and discussing issues relevant to social work practice, education and research in the African region. The journal is committed to reflecting culturally relevant and decolonised African social work. The AJSW uses a double-blind peer review process in addition to community review that each author must fulfill. We ask authors to value communities that they research by being open in dealing with them, including them in the review process, providing opportunities for co-analysis and co-authoring and providing them with results of our research in accessible formats. The journal prefers empirical papers but also accepts review, theoretical, historical, methodological or epistemological analyses. In addition to these articles, the journal is interested in brief notes and analysis of up to 1000 words on policy, programmes, legislations, organisations or interventions on social work that would be of interest to African social workers and the international social work fraternity. Other submissions may include book reviews, media reviews, published article commentary or replies, suitable bibliographies, curriculum development or teaching aids, students’ essays, think pieces, news from professional associations and professional interviews. Papers focusing on African or related communities in the outside of the continent are welcome. To help with our objective of decolonizing African social work, we anticipate that authors will have a majority of their citations from the continent including African books, articles, definitions, concepts, theories, frameworks and orature (oral literature) that is abundant in Africa but has not been tapped in social work.


Submit a single email attachment to in Ms Word. Articles are to be written in English language but could have a second abstract in an African language of your choice. Name your document as follows: Surname_First Name_Short title of your manuscript

AJSW referencing, writing and editing guide (AJSW GUIDE)

Editing and formatting information

  • Not more than 5000 words including references, abstract and title.
  • No foot notes
  • Times New Roman font throughout, including figures (tables, charts etc)
  • Font size 10 throughout
  • Single-spacing throughout
  • Headings in capital letters, bold
  • All text aligned left
  • No unnecessary capital letters, bold, italics, spaces
  • Each table or figure number with appropriate title on top
  • Figures must not be too many or too large, each should not be longer than half a page
  • Subheadings should only have a capital letter at the beginning, and every other word must be in small letter unless it is a noun or abbreviation
  • Headings and subheadings should not be numbered

Contents of front page


Not more than 15 words, capitalised and bold. Should fit the category of African Social Work and our journal policy described above.


An abstract is a summary of the main elements of your research. It is a shortened but succinct version of your research article. Should be 200 words in italics and in past tense.  Ensure all key words are included in abstract. Should be one standard paragraph. Include purpose of research and methodology, briefly and summarise all results, conclusions and implications. Must all be in italics, single spaced. An abstract, summarises everything about your research, and a reader must understand all your research is about from the abstract.


Put between 5 and 8 key terms. In italics. Ensure that each key term appears in the abstract, introduction and that your main key terms appear in the title.


SURNAME, First name, Other name (clan name, praise name or respect name); Qualifications; Department; Institution; Contact email; Phone numbers. Unless otherwise indicated, the first author shall be the corresponding author. 

Contents of main text


An introduction is a welcome. That is, you are welcoming people to your research article or report. Should be one standard paragraph of between 8 and 15 lines. Ensure that all key words are included in introduction. Include purpose of research and methodology, briefly. The final sentence must tell us what to expect, i.e., how the paper is arranged. The introduction closely resembles the abstract but they are different in that the introduction does not tell you everything about the research. An introduction is mainly about what to expect.


Here you provide background to your research and the problem or social issue. Your background should use subheadings to illustrate the following:

  • The problem or social work issue
  • The theories (how theories explain this problem. Prioritise African theories).
  • The literature (for most manuscripts literature review is not possible, but literature scoping, which is a quick check on what authors have said about the problem). If your whole article is based on literature review, then please read section about LITERATURE REVIEW below.
  • The gaps in literature (there is no need to study what is already known unless you are challenging it in some way).
  • Your research aim, objectives and questions (to fill the existing gap)
  • Justification and motivations. Is it part of a larger research project, do you have any personal or community motivations, what is your expertise and that of your team members?


This is a story about the practical aspects of your research. It is a unique story or journey starting with how you identified the problem, what you did to research it and ending with how you disseminated findings to the community that you researched about. In the AJSW, we allow first person narrative. Should be no more than 3 standard paragraphs. Unlike a research report, in journal manuscripts, subheadings are not recommended for the methodology. Ethics should not be superficial – include how you obtained local consent from local, community or traditional leaders. Was your research application reviewed by a university ethics committee or other committee, please name the committee and provide review number if available. Tell us how you obtained community feedback on your results, and what the feedback was. More importantly, tell us how you reported the results in ways that are accessible, including language and publications accessible at community level. In Africa, we are interested in the role that the community play in reviewing your work not just peer and editorial review. It is unethical to not make results of our research available to communities concerned or involved. The ethics are generally in what you did, that is they are buried in your methods, not in the headings that you reproduce from text books or other articles.

We have very few reviewers for quantitative manuscripts, so you are encouraged to use qualitative methods.


What if I am doing a literature review only paper?

At times, authors are submitting an article based solely on a review of literature. This is possible. In your methodology, tell us how you did the review, where you got the papers to review, inclusion/exclusion criteria, the list of papers you included etc. The rest of the manuscript will be similar to a field research paper/report.

Here are some types of literature reviews:

  1. Scoping literature review: this is what most writers provide in their articles. It is not comprehensive but based on literature available to the writer at the time. This can also include literature already cited in books. It starts with a research question/s, followed by gathering available literature, reading the literature and picking themes, writing key themes and making conclusions then reporting (the methodology followed, the literature reviewed, key themes, conclusions and implications).
  2. Systematic literature review: this is more comprehensive and it involves collecting all literature that is available at a particular place, library or database about a particular topic covering a defined period. It has a specific research question/s. For example: What are the decolonization themes in articles published in the African Journal of Social Work (AJSW) between 2013 and 2020? Or instead of AJSW, it could be articles in the Library of University of Lagos or in the African Journals Online (AJOL) database. You could also include multiple libraries and databases in one review. In this type of review, you do not include literature cited by others, you need to get hold of the articles you are reviewing and read them yourself. The process starts with a research question/s, followed by gathering available literature in a systematic manner (specific year, library or database), reading all the literature and picking themes, writing key themes and making conclusions then reporting (the methodology followed, number of articles found and included, key themes, conclusions and implications).
  3. Meta-analysis: a type of systematic literature review that use statistical methods (quantitative) to analyse findings of different researches. For example, you could review the different rates of HIV infection provided in 300 journal articles. When you put these rates together, you could generate statistical data including means, mode, variations, quartiles etc. You could do a lot of things with that data and make conclusions.
  4. Meta-synthesis – a type of systematic literature review that uses narrative analysis (qualitative) to integrate data from multiple researches. For example, you could collect 30 articles that describe stigma in HIV/AIDS and derive common themes.
  5. Review of reviews – this is a systematic review of existing reviews. For this to happen, you need to know the reviews that have been done. Can be quantitative and qualitative in orientation, or mixed.


This section shows us the new data that you obtained from the research. Start with a short summary of key results using dot points or a list separated by commas or semi-colons. Then present each result under headings and sub-headings. It is recommended to transform your research questions or objectives into headings. Others want to discuss results here, that is ok, as long as your results can be clearly identified.


This section reviews your new data in relation to your background information, theory and literature. Do not add new data when discussing. If you discuss in the findings/results section, you do not need a separate discussion section.


These should be concluding statements to your research objectives or answers to your research questions. It shows new knowledge your research is contributing to the social work community. Conclusions must not be long because the discussion section provides all the explanations. Dot points are allowed. This is not a conclusion of the research report or article.


Make clear statements (3-5) about what is the usefulness of your results in relation to social work in your country and in Africa, and of course globally. What needs to be done by social workers, policy makers, service users, students, communities etc. What are future research gaps? What methods of research do you recommend in future? Why? Dot points are allowed. You would normally start by saying, Based on our finding that…..Following our conclusion that says…. In this section, it’s about your own voice, speak your mind, provide your expertise here but link to your findings. Contribution of your research or analysis must be clear: new theory, new definition, new model, new framework, new definition, new concept, new solution, new gap, threat or problem discovered, new policy proposed or new educational tool.


A conclusion is a goodbye. Summarise what the research report/article covered. This is not the same as STUDY/RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS. Make this part between 8 and 12 lines. It is written in past tense.


Include a declaration on conflict of interestethical approvalfunding sources, acknowledgements, a statement indicating the originality of the work and confirmation that the work submitted to this Journal shall not be submitted to another publication unless rejected or withdrawn. Whilst the author shall retain copyrights; he/she must also indicate that this Journal gets the sole and exclusive right to publish the work for the full length of the copyright period. Permissions for reproduced work must be indicated. A declaration must also be made to the effect that co-authors took part in the research process, and that their inclusion to the publication has been gained and that they are not ‘ghost’ writers. Whilst all the declarations mentioned here are important to achieving quality research, the ones indicated in italics are compulsory. 


See notes below

Citing and references list

Key issues

  1. Prioritise African literature, definitions, ethics and theories. in your background, literature review, methodology and discussion.
  2. We understand there is a lot of oral literature (orature) for African social work, please cite and reference it.
  3. Follow our referencing guide word for word, comma for comma, colons, dots, full stops, italics etc.
  4. References should be less than one page in length or not more than 15 references or authors.
  5. Cite no less than 8 but no more than 15 sources.
  6. We expect more than ¾ of these to be peer reviewed journal sources not less than 10 years old.
  7. Unnecessary citations must be avoided and only works of value to your paper must be cited.
  8. Ensure you have edited your list of references as indicated below. Any paper that does not meet this standard will not proceed for review.
  9. Use New Times Roman, Font size 10, Single space, No bold or Underlining.
  10. No numbering or bulleting of your sources.
  11. Put all reference details for same author/authors in a single line.
  12. Only book titles and journal names (including volume and issue numbers) should be italicised.
  13. For online references, use Available at: www…. (Accessed: 28 January 2020).
  14. Put year of publication in brackets/parenthesis.
  15. Remove all highlights and links (especially for internet references).



Mugumbate, J., and Nyanguru, A. (2013). Exploring African philosophy: The value of ubuntu in social work. African Journal of Social Work, 3(1), 82-100.


Samkange, S. and Samkange, T. M. (1980). Hunhuism or Ubuntuism: A Zimbabwean indigenous political philosophy. Harare: Graham Publishing.

Edited book

Mupedziswa, R., Rankopo, M. and Mwansa, L. (2019). Ubuntu as a Pan-African Philosophical Framework for Social Work in Africa. Social Work Practice in Africa Indigenous and Innovative Approaches. Eds J. M.  Twikirize and H. Spitzer. Kampala: Fountain.


Make sure you write the name of the organisation in full, then show the abbreviation.

Council of Social Workers (CSW) 2012. Social workers code of ethics. Statutory Instrument 146 of 2012.


Simba, J.  (2014). Social work in east Africa. Document. Makerere University, Uganda.


Mahoso, T. (2013). Ngozi. Sunday Mail Newspaper, 14-20 July 201,3 p. D2. Zimbabwe.

Nehanda Guardian Newspaper (2012). BUSE students commemorate first ever Social Work day in Zimbabwe. Nehanda Guardian Newspaper, 23 April, p. 1.


Make sure you add a web link and date you accessed the content.

United Nations (UN) (2013). Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS Estimates 2013 Report. Retrieved on 12 December 2019 from estimates pdf.

Government policy or document

South African Government; (1996). White Paper on Welfare. Government Gazette Number 16943.

How to cite a proverb, song, forklore

Shona people. ‘Mwana asingachemi anofira mumbereko’ (A baby who does not cry does not get the mother’s attention). Proverb: Zimbabwe. (Please note that no year is required because this is a timeless resource).

How to cite a popular saying

Mandela, Madiba Nelson. ‘Ubuntu is peace’. South Africa. (You can add a year if you know it).

How to cite your personal experience or experience of someone you know

Surname, Names. ‘Title of your experience’. Country (use this format to cite your personal experience.

How to cite an artist (musician, sculptor, actor etc)

Surname, Names. Year. Title of artwork. Description of artwork. Publisher, Country.

Dembo, Leonard Musorowenyoka. 1992. Chitekete. Song, Cassette. Grammar, Zimbabwe.

Characteristics of manuscripts that are likely to get accepted

  1. Topic and research question: social work topic that is relevant to Africa and the continent’s social issues. Questions should be relevant to social work from an African perspective in terms of culture, knowledge, ways of knowing & learning, theories, practice, education, research, policy, politics, economies, laws, jurisprudence, leadership, language, art and religions.
  2. Theories: use African or locally relevant social work theories, frameworks and models such as Indigenous Theory e.g. Ubuntu, Ukama, Ujamaa; Family Theories, Community Theories, Decolonisation theory; Dependence Theory; Social Justice Theory; Social Development Theory, Developmental Social Work, Spirituality, African ecology, among others.
  3. Vernacular or other languages: Use of other languages other than English for topic, abstract, key words, key sentences/phrases taken verbatim is acceptable, provided an English translation is provided and the manuscript is still within word limit.
  4. Lived experience: acceptable because much of African literature is orature or not written. We ask that writers corroborate stories with those of others, but highlighting those things that made the stories different. Stories could be a writer’s lived experience or participants.
  5. Multiple submissions: We are unlikely to publish more than one paper from one author in the same issue or in consecutive issues.
  6. Collaboration: We encourage collaboration but we consider carefully papers co-authored by people who share the same surname, more than two people from the same institution or papers with more than three authors. We always want to avoid ghost writers.
  7. African orature: we encourage you to cite oral sources (oral, largely unwritten unpublished literature) such as African proverbs, idioms, songs, stories etc.
  8. Published literature: we encourage you to cite African literature from other African journals, books and publications in addition to those from outside. All references must be traceable.
  9. Qualitative vs quantitative: qualitative manuscripts have more reviewers in social work, and are preferable. It takes time to find reviewers for quantitative studies.
  10. Social work teaching and learning resources: to address literature gaps in social work teaching and learning in Africa, we are also interested in brief lecture essays, presentations, analysis etc.
  11. Approvals and consent: Ethics approval is often granted by university or research authority. Research approval is often provided at the site of the research by heads of villages, other traditional leaders, county, district, community, organisation, institution etc. Consent is provided by research participants i.e. individuals, families or organisations. The consent statement must be clear about what you want participants to consent to. Ethical, approval and consent statements must be realistic, practical and have been followed. Many a times people copy and paste ethics described in text books but each research is different.
  12. Who can author: educators, researchers, fieldworkers, practitioners, students and allied professions are all encouraged to submit manuscripts. You are encouraged to collaborate with community members, and have them as co-authors.
  13. African diaspora and related communities: papers focusing on African or related communities in the outside of the continent are welcome.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2409-5605
print ISSN: 1563-3934