Pioneering electronic law journal in class of its own

Belinda Bantham -- Tue, 05/08/2018 - 08:29

Pioneering electronic law journal in class of its own

Since its inception in 1998, the Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (PELJ) has been a hallmark of the Faculty of Law’s continuous excellence. Every year the PEJL receives more than 100 submissions of which more than 60% are published.

“The journal is my baby and my baby has grown really big. It is bursting at the seams,” says Prof Christa Rautenbach, editor-in-chief of the journal.

“It was the first open access electronic journal and a pioneer in online peer-reviewed publishing,” says Prof Rautenbach. “In 1998 nobody thought about publishing academic articles online. The common consensus was that only articles of inferior quality were published in an open access format.”

From the outset PELJ was focused on maintaining high editorial standards, producing material for legal scholars worth reading. Probably still the most widely cited contribution to PELJ (on Ubuntu by Justice Yvonne Mokgoro), appeared in the first volume. Papers delivered (referred to as orationes) by prominent scholars and judges are often published in PELJ, and double-blind peer review practices are maintained throughout, except for the orationes.

“For all those involved with the journal it is a labour of love. None of the editors are remunerated; our main purpose is to distribute scholarly knowledge,” explains Prof Rautenbach.

The journal has been accredited since 2003 and its growth in popularity has continued unabated. In 2016 56 articles were published, 69 in 2017 and already 32 in 2018. It also boasts between 1 600 and 1 700 citations on Google Scholar alone. The journal is also indexed by more than 20 databases. 

“I think we receive so many submissions because we are such a popular journal, internationally recognised and highly rated in the international community,” explains Rieëtte Venter who has already been an integral part of the journal for a decade.

PELJ publishes contributions relevant to development in the South African constitutional state. This means that most contributions will have a connection with some aspect of constitutionalism or legal development. The fact that the South African constitutional state is the focus does not limit the content of PELJ to the South African legal system, since development law and constitutionalism are excellent themes for comparative work.

The journal welcomes contributions on any aspect or discipline of the law from any part of the world.



Prof Christa Rautenbach is the proud editor-in-chief of the successful Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (PELJ).