European Science Editing 50: e114734, doi: 10.3897/ese.2024.e114734
Reporting and presentation of statistical analyses: instructions for authors of health sciences journals based in South Africa
expand article infoGina Joubert
‡ University of the Free State Faculty of Health Sciences, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Open Access

Background: Statistical analyses are a key component of quantitative research in health sciences.

Objectives: To review the instructions for authors on reporting and presentation of statistical methods by all health sciences journals based in South Africa.

Methods: Health sciences journals based in South Africa that publish original quanti-tative research articles were identified using three sources, namely the list of accred-ited South African journals compiled by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training in 2022, relevant journals covered in Scopus, and web pages of major health sciences publishers in South Africa. The list was cross-checked against the listing of journals in Sabinet, an online database covering South Africa, under the category ‘Collection: Medicine and Health’. The instructions for authors given by the journals were accessed through their websites. The form for recording data was based on items listed in the ‘Statistical Analyses and Methods in the Published Literature’ (SAMPL) guidelines.

Results: All except one of the 52 journals could be located online. Of the 51, 13 (25%) made no mention of statistics in their instructions, and 11 (22%) made only a gen-eral statement regarding statistical content with no further guidance. The statistical item most frequently mentioned was the P value (45% of journals), whereas the rest of the items appeared in the instructions of 20% or fewer journals. Nine journals (18%) referred to the EQUATOR guidelines, mainly CONSORT (10%).

Conclusion: Nearly half of the health sciences journals based in South Africa either did not mention statistics at all in their instructions for authors or made only a cur-sory reference to statistics. The study thus emphasizes that these journals, in their instructions for authors, need to cover in greater detail the reporting and presenta-tion of statistical methods in articles reporting quantitative research.

Health sciences journals, reporting statistics, South Africa, statistical guidelines