The Rwanda Public Health Bulletin (RPHB) is an access, a peer-reviewed bulletin published as the flagship scientific and technical periodical publication. RPHB is a public health bulletin launched in March 2019 by the Rwandan Ministry of Health, through the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation and with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative.
To serve as a scientific information dissemination platform of national and international significance, mainly in areas related to the Rwanda Ministry of Health’s essential mission to strengthen national and local health systems and improve the health of the people of Rwanda. The Rwanda Public Health Bulletin publishes disease surveillance summaries, public health response guidelines, public health notices, case reports, outbreak reports, original research papers, and policy briefs, among others. It generally features issues of importance to its targeted audience: health professionals, academic researchers, policymakers, and anybody interested in health issues. Articles for publication are received from doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, students, policymakers, government bodies, non-governmental bodies, and others.
To bridge the gap in public health information sharing between policy-makers, researchers, health professionals, and practitioners.
The Rwanda Public Health Bulletin (RPHB) is a quarterly non-profit public health bulletin. It is an information-sharing platform where public health reports and studies are collected and compiled to inform key policy-making procedures. It ensures that public health professionals have access to timely and updated research evidence necessary to control and minimize the effect of potential public health threats in the country.
Only articles in English are accepted. Please note that the RPHB only publishes manuscripts in written English. Poor English should not prevent acceptance, provided the paper's content is of high quality. Click manuscript submission to submit your manuscript.
Disease surveillance summaries, evaluation of public health interventions, public health notices, outbreak reports, case reports, case studies, opinion articles, commentaries, original research papers, and policy briefs/notes.
Submission of a manuscript implies that all authors have read and agreed to its content and are bound to this bulletin’s internal rules. All Informed consent must be documented. A complete and explicit process for registration of required trials to the suitable public registry is mandatory. The publication of unregistered scientific work is possible but may require rigorous selection; however, the entitled process register will be clearly stated in the article.
WEBSITE AND INDEXING
The RPHB publications are available at https://rbc.gov.rw/publichealthbulletin/, and the bulletin is indexed by Bioline International at http://www.bioline.org.br/rp
All authors and articles published should meet the standards documented in this editorial policy. The RPHB accepts all submissions aligning with its scope and mission from any country and is not limited to authors and researchers solely from Rwanda or Africa. All articles are submitted without charge (free) and will be subject to type-editing, copy-editing, and peer review before publication.
The journal is published quarterly on the 31st March, 30rd June, 30rd September and 31st December of each year, respectively.
OPEN ACCESS POLICY
The RPHB 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. Users have the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles free of charge.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF EDITORIAL TEAM
Type-editing and copy-editing
Type and copy-editors are proficient/native English speakers who will amend the manuscript to enhance the grammar and spelling without modifying the article's methodology/results or academic content.
Peer-reviewers may also give copy-edit feedback to improve the quality of the manuscript. The amended manuscript will be given to authors with anonymous tracked changes
Selection of Articles
1. Articles are initially screened for plagiarism.
2. A senior editor screens articles to assess if they are appropriate to be sent for peer review. Articles should meet the aims and mission of the bulletin and have sufficient quality in order to progress.
Articles that do not meet these basic criteria may, therefore, be rejected at this point without peer review.
3. Peer-review. Peer review is sought from a minimum of two reviewers.
4. Senior Editor decision. Based on the opinions given by the peer reviewers, the senior editorial team makes the final decision regarding the acceptance of articles.
5. Articles may then be accepted in their current form, or revisions may be sought from authors before acceptance.
As per ICMJE guidance: Editorial decisions should be based on the relevance of a manuscript to the journal and the manuscript's originality, quality, and contribution to evidence about important questions. Those decisions should not be influenced by commercial interests, personal relationships or agendas, or findings that are negative or that credibly challenge accepted knowledge.
The bulletin follows ICMJE guidelines concerning manuscript confidentiality. “Manuscripts submitted to the bulletin remain the authors’ private, confidential property. Only once the article is accepted and published does the copyright ownership change
Ownership of content
Authors retain full copyright, ownership, and publishing rights of their articles without restrictions. The RPHB uses the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) license. By submitting to the RPHB, authors are deemed to be giving a license to publish, whilst maintaining their own copyright ownership.
Citation and Reproduction of Articles
Unless otherwise indicated, articles and accompanying materials published by the RPHB are licensed by the respective authors for use and distribution and are subject to citation of the original source in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.
Any article published in the RPHB can be cited in future articles by third parties of any other journal without prior permission from the author or the RPHB.
Content within materials
The staff and editorial board of the RPHB make a concerted effort to ensure that the journal does not publish material that infringes the copyright or includes libelous or defamatory content. However, the content of the articles remains the responsibility of the authors. All opinions are the views of the authors and not the editorial board. If during review a manuscript is perceived to deviate from this policy, the Editor, with assistance from the expert editorial board if required, will work with authors to achieve a mutually satisfactory outcome and ensure that no manuscripts are published in the RPHB that are defamatory, libelous, or infringe copyright.
Regardless of these efforts by the staff and editorial board, the bulletin and editorial board is not ultimately liable for the content of articles published; authors are the only responsible parties.
ROLES OF EDITORIAL TEAM
The editorial team are collectively responsible for the following duties.
- Take responsibility for ensuring the quality of the journal content.
- Ensure the peer review process is carried out properly.
- Appoint or advise on Editorial Board members.
- Liaise with authors regarding acceptance decisions.
- Demonstrate a duty of care to ensure that the bulletin does not publish any plagiarized or illegal (e.g.libelous infringing copyright, etc.) content.
- Work within the publication schedule to ensure (as far as possible) that the appropriate amount of content is ready for each issue.
- Work with the publisher to help promote the journal.
- Implements and ensure application of the editorial policy
- Leads decision-making processes related to articles selection, appeals, and complaints
Deputy chief editors:
- Supports the chief editor with her/his responsibilities
- Monitors submissions and identify peer-reviewers
Medical editor and editorial assistant:
- Provides administrative support to ensure the prompt peer-review and publication of submitted articles.
The editorial board should make all steps to eliminate the following forms of bias from editorial decisions:
- Language – badly phrased language should not be deemed as a sign of bad science or poor-quality research.
- Country or region – bias towards (and against) specific regions of the world – either because of politics, or because they believe that good research is more likely to come from some regions and not from others.
- Institute –bias to believe good research comes from some institutions and not from others
- Challenging viewpoints –a viewpoint that conflicts with or challenges the beliefs and research of the editorial board member and/or the reviewers
- Subject of article
- Known authors
- Negative results – disinclined to publish articles that report negative results
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
The editorial board members support the editorial board and have the following duties:
- To support the editorial board in achieving the above tasks
- To peer-review articles related to her/his area of medical expertise
- To support the board in identifying peer-reviewers
- To advocate for the journal in the wider field
PEER REVIEW POLICY
Peer-review is an objective process found at the heart of high-quality scholarly publishing and is to ensure that only good science is published.
All original articles, case reports, and review articles are sent for peer review. Commissioned articles are also subject to standard peer-review procedures. Peer review aims to ensure that all authors receive feedback as well as the decision regarding their submission. A minimum of two experts review submitted manuscripts. The RPHB employs a double-blind peer review process meaning that reviewers are not given any identifying features of the authors of the manuscript. Authors are provided with feedback from the peer review, and this is anonymized. Acceptance of articles for publication is dependent on the following: originality of the work, quality of the methodology, clarity of presentation of results, the accuracy of statistical analysis, insightfulness of the discussion, comprehensibility of the writing, appropriate appraisal of limitations, and thoughtful presentation of implications of the study.
Peer reviewers have five possible options for the outcome of the article:
1. Accept in current form
2. Minor revision: asking the authors to make minor revisions and resubmit
3. Major revision: asking the authors to make significant revisions and resubmit
4. Reject initial submission entirely
Articles authored by editors and editorial board members
All articles, irrespective of authorship, are sent anonymized for peer-review anonymized and articles authored by editors and editorial board members through the same double-blinded review process as all articles.
Responsibilities of Peer Reviewers
Expectations of peer reviewers are described by the Committee of Publication Ethics.
The journal uses a double-blind peer review process for the review of manuscripts submitted for publication in the journal. Manuscripts submitted to journals are privileged communications that are authors’ private. Reviewers should keep manuscripts and the information they contain strictly confidential. Reviewers must not publicly discuss authors' work and must not appropriate authors' ideas before the manuscript is published. Reviewers must not retain the manuscript for their personal use and should destroy copies of manuscripts after submitting their reviews.
Reviewers are expected to respond promptly to requests to review and to submit reviews within the time agreed. Reviewers’ comments should be constructive, honest, and polite. When a manuscript outcome is given to the authors, the reviewers' comments are anonymous.
Peer reviewers should:
- Only agree to review manuscripts for which they have the subject expertise required to carry out a proper assessment and which they can assess in a timely manner
- Respect the confidentiality of peer review and do not reveal any details of a manuscript or its review, during or after the peer-review process, beyond those that are released by the journal
- Not use information obtained during the peer-review process for their own or any other person’s or organization’s advantage or to disadvantage or discredit others
- Declare all potential conflicting interests, seeking advice from the journal if they are unsure whether something constitutes a relevant interest
- Not allow their reviews to be influenced by the origins of a manuscript, by the nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, or by commercial considerations
- Be objective and constructive in their reviews, refraining from being hostile or inflammatory and from making libelous or derogatory personal comments
- Acknowledge that peer review is largely a reciprocal endeavor and undertake to carry out their fair share of reviewing in a timely manner
- Provide journals with personal and professional information that is accurate and a true representation of their expertise
- Recognize that impersonation of another individual during the review process is considered serious misconduct
- Address ethical aspects:
- Plagiarism, data fabrication, or manipulation
- Duplication / redundant article
- Ethical approval, informed consent
AMENDMENTS, APPEALS, COMPLAINTS, RETRACTIONS, AND CLARIFICATIONS,
Appeals: Authors who wish to appeal a rejection of a manuscript submitted to the RPHB should write to the Editor-in-Chief and include the specific reason for the appeal, and if possible, support the argument with evidence in the form of attached journal articles or scientific references.
Complaints: Authors or readers who would like to submit a complaint should write to the Editor-in-Chief directly. If the complaint pertains to a specific article, please include the year, volume, and issue, along with the author and title of the article.
Retractions: The editorial team will consider retracting articles, using the guidance from the Committee of Publication Ethics.
Timeline: We aim for a response to appeals and complaints within four weeks.
Whenever an article is retracted or amended, the following Committee of Publication Ethics guidelines will be followed
- Be linked to the retracted article in all online versions
- Clearly identify the retracted article by including the title and authors in the retraction heading or citing the retracted article
- Be clearly identified as a retraction (i.e., distinct from other types of correction or comment)
- Be published promptly to minimize harmful effects
- Be freely available to all readers (i.e., not behind access barriers or available only to subscribers)
- State who is retracting the article
- State the reason(s) for retraction.
- Be objective, factual and avoid inflammatory language
RESPONSIBILITIES OF AUTHORS
Submission of articles
Once an author has prepared a manuscript according to the RPHB author instructions, they should submit it online at https://rbc.gov.rw/publichealthbulletin/manuscripts/submission. Submitting to the bulletin is deemed as giving consent from all authors for submitting the manuscript. All illustration materials (e.g., pictures, radiology images, etc.) utilized in the article submitted should be accompanied by written permission/consent from the original authors, where applicable. After publication, the authors keep the right to modify, use, reproduce or disseminate their articles at their wish regardless of the peer review outcome and/or process as per the copyright policy above.
Duplicate submission and publication
Authors should not submit the same manuscript in the same or different languages simultaneously to more than one journal. By submitting a manuscript online to the RPHB, the author is confirming that it is an original work and has not been submitted to or published by another journal, even in the form of a conference proceeding.
Manuscripts should not be submitted to the RPHB if they have previously been published in another journal., unless the author obtains written permission from that journal for re-print. However, submission of conference abstracts, pending or confirmed, is acceptable.
Final peer-review process decision
Based on the decision of the Editorial team, the following processes will apply:
1. Accepted in current form: The author will not be asked to review the manuscript. Small typographical changes may be made by the editorial team.The RPHB Editorial team will make minor changes to the text for clarity and length but will not substantially alter the content of the piece. Once the revised manuscript has been reviewed and approved by the author, the manuscript will not be again subject to peer review.
2. Minor revision. The initial submission is rejected, and the author(s) are asked to make minor revisions (tracking the changes in the previous submission) and resubmit. Any comment from the editorial or peer-review team should be addressed in the word file of the manuscript. It is then reviewed by a member of the editorial board, and if accepted in this form, it will go directly to publication. Minimal typographic changes and small edits for length and clarity can be suggested by the editor and approved by the author at this time. If, however, at this point the manuscript is rejected for further significant revision, it will be non-publishable.
3. Major revision. The initial submission is rejected, and the author(s) are asked to make significant (major) revisions (tracking the changes in the previous submission) and to resubmit if they wish to pursue publication of the revised manuscript. After the author completes the revisions, he resubmits the manuscript as a “revised article.” It is then reviewed by a member of the editorial board, and if accepted in this form, it will go directly to publication. Minimal typographic changes and small edits
for length and clarity can be suggested by the editor and approved by the author. If, however, at this point the manuscript is rejected again for further significant revision, it will be considered non-publishable and “fully rejected” Any manuscript rejected on two occasions will not be accepted for re-submission. This is deemed as non-publishable work.
4. Fully rejected: Initial submission is rejected with no opportunity for revision nor resubmission.
Revision of articles during the submission process
Revisions of articles during the submission/review process aims to:
- To improve the arguments based on the existing data
- To identify where more data are needed
- To improve the clarity and coherence
The approved articles in their revised format will be sent to the author for immediate (<1 week) final approval and proofreading before publication.
The full-text of articles accepted for publication are immediately and permanently archived in the journal central database.
In respect to "Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors"
Authorship is based on the following four criteria:
- A substantial contribution to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work
- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content
- Final approval of the version to be published
- Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved
All those designated as authors must meet all four criteria for authorship, and should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged in the manuscript. Submissions should be signed by all authors involved. All the authors share legal responsibility for the content of the manuscript and keep the full copyright of the material. The RPHB does not hold legal responsibility for the content of the manuscript.
Note that the RPHB editorial team will not engage in author disputes. These should be resolved by either the authors themselves
Consent for submission
The core mission of the RMJ is to publish articles of originality and authenticity. Among the journal’s aims and objectives is to maintain constant performance improvement in this regard.
Submission of a manuscript implies that all authors have read and consented to its submission and publication. In doing so, all authors are bound by the internal rules of the RPHB and are in "agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved" as per ICMJE guidelines.
The RPHB is not responsible for violations of accuracy and integrity that may be perpetrated by authors before and during the publication process. The RPHB editorial team does not independently verify the accuracy and integrity of the data reported to the journal by the authors. Legal responsibility for the veracity of the data and the accuracy of statistical analysis falls upon the authors of each article, who bear shared legal liability for the truthfulness of the content published.
Protection of Research Participants
Ethical standards for all manuscripts should follow internationally recognized ethical standards and guidelines, namely:
- The Helsinki Declaration
- AERA, BERA for educational researchers
- WHO guidelines
- Local and national guidelines issued by regulatory authorities from the country of submission
Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval
For experimental studies, the author should report the Institutional Review Board (IRB) reference code in the manuscript.
If the scientific project involves human subjects or animals, authors must state in the manuscript that the protocol has been approved by the Ethics Committee of the institution within which the research was undertaken. Experiments on human subjects or animal must be in accordance with institutional and national guidelines or regulations for human subject and animal research. Research should be in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration.
Researchers, are being increasingly encouraged, or even mandated, to make research data available in the public domain, and for this data to be accessible, discoverable and usable. Research data generally refers to the results of observations or experiments that validate research findings. These can cover a range of useful materials associated with a research project, such as; raw or processed data files, software, code, models, algorithms, protocols and/or methods. It is important to note that research data does not include the text in a manuscript or the final published article, or data or other materials submitted and published as part of a journal article.
The RMJ has a policy to not-mandate data-sharing. Despite this, we acknowledge that data-sharing is good practice and we would not decline submissions where data has been appropriate published in the public-domain.
All studies should describe the processes of consent from human subjects.
For studies in which research subjects spoke a language other than English, the authors should confirm that they provided consent forms in the subjects’ primary language. If a majority of research subjects were illiterate, the authors should specifically address how consent was obtained in these cases.
For case reports where the identification of the patient may be possible,
written consent of the patient must be provided. If all reasonable steps have been taken to remove potential identification of the patient, then consent is not necessary.
The editorial team will use plagiarism software to screen all submitted articles. The unique content should be above 90%. In cases where significant plagiarism > 90% is identified, the article will be fully rejected.
Duplicate publication: Duplicate publication is publication of a paper that overlaps substantially with one already published, without clear, visible reference to the previous publication. When authors submit a manuscript reporting work that has already been reported in large part in a published article or is contained in or closely related to another paper that has been submitted or accepted for publication elsewhere, it should be accompanied by a letter of submission clearly mentioning it so and the authors should provide copies of the related material to help the editor decide how to handle the submission. Duplicate publications that may infringe on copyright of another peer-reviewed journal cannot be accepted.
Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest exists when professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such as patients' welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain). Perceptions of conflict of interest are as important as actual conflicts of interest.
Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock ownership or options, honoraria, patents, and paid expert testimony) are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the bulletin, and the authors. However, conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships or rivalries, academic competition, and intellectual beliefs. Authors should avoid entering into agreements with study sponsors, both for-profit and non-profit, that interfere with authors’ access to all of the study’s data or that interfere with their ability to analyze and interpret the data and to prepare and publish manuscripts independently when and where they choose."
Authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest, including disclosure of any competing financial or other interest during online submission. The RPHB is not responsible for ethical conflict of interest violations that authors may perpetrate before and during the publication process. Legal responsibility for the veracity of the conflict-of-interest statements published in the RPHB fall upon the authors of each journal article.