Writing for California Agriculture journal
California Agriculture is a peer-reviewed journal reporting research, reviews and news in agricultural, natural and human resources. The authors are primarily, but not exclusively, faculty from the University of California and its Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It is published four times a year.
The first issue of California Agriculture was published in December 1946, making it one of the oldest, continuously published, land-grant university research publications in the country. It is also the largest-circulation publication of its kind (currently about 15,000 domestic and 1,800 foreign subscribers).
The journal primarily publishes peer-reviewed research, with a short news section in the front of each issue.
California Agriculture strives to present new, significant findings in a meaningful, real-world context. Our approach is geared to a well-educated, diverse readership (see Audience). We encourage authors to use direct language, define technical terms and use interpretive tools such as glossaries and enhanced illustrations. With author approval, we deploy features of the Web to further enhance understanding.
All published research and review papers are peer-reviewed. Research must be relevant to the state's agricultural, natural or human resources. We recognize that evidence can be qualitative as well as quantitative, but it must adhere to accepted standards of research methodology and statistical significance in the relevant discipline.
Research articles are up to 4,000 words in length, including tables, figures and references. Articles are expected to contain original research representing a significant advance in one field; they may synthesize results from related experiments, presenting them in terms meaningful to both an interdisciplinary audience and educated lay readers.
We encourage authors with previously published technical data to consider analyzing it with a focus on policy or management questions in California. Articles must make an original contribution to research; submissions should be made within 6 months of publication in a disciplinary journal.
Reviews are up to 4,500 words in length, including tables, figures and references. They synthesize and evaluate a body of original research that is significant to agricultural, natural or human resources in California. Reviews must make an original contribution to the research discourse. Readers should be able to learn what has been firmly established and what are unresolved questions or future directions for research.
Perspectives are a kind of review article; in addition, they may analyze recent developments in research and public policy in light of their their impacts on California’s agricultural, natural and human resources.
New pests and diseases are short review articles describing new pests and diseases of statewide significance. They are generally 2,500 to 3,000 words. Authors are expected to describe the host range, geographic range and important biological characteristics of the pest, citing the relevant literature. Articles must contain California data and describe expected impacts and potential means of managing the pest in the state.
Public policy research, surveys, case studies and program evaluations. California Agriculture publishes research that addresses broad public policy issues regarding agricultural, natural or human resources in California. We recognize that evidence can be qualitative as well as quantitative. In all cases, research should adhere to accepted standards of research methodology and statistical significance in the relevant discipline.
The same standards apply to surveys, case studies and program evaluations. We encourage authors to include a comparative dimension in survey research, case studies and program evaluations. Readers should be able to understand California phenomena relative to broader scale, regional or national phenomena.
Manuscripts based on routine program assessments and feedback instruments do not generally pass peer review. Please contact the Associate Editor in your subject area or the California Agriculture staff before preparing program evaluations or survey research for submission.
Special collections and focus issues typically include both reviews and research articles on subjects that have stimulated significant interdisciplinary research and/or extension efforts at UC, and that have interest for a wide cross-section of the audience. Suggestions for coverage are welcome. Both solicited and unsolicited articles undergo peer review. See Guidelines for Special Collections and Focus Issues or email email@example.com.
Sidebars are published in the text of signed manuscripts and illustrate or offer expanded discussion of a single aspect of the accompanying article. They are typically 600 to 1,000 words. Because of the brevity of sidebars, the conclusions drawn and assertions made must either be supported by the accompanying manuscript or by literature citations listed at the sidebar’s conclusion. Like all research papers, faculty-authored sidebars must undergo peer review, but they are evaluated for accuracy and balance rather than for the formal presentation of scientific data.
Out-of-state submissions. California Agriculture welcomes out-of-state or international submissions. However, all research published in California Agriculture must be relevant to the state's agricultural, natural or human resources. If you conducted your research outside of California, please state in the manuscript how that research is relevant and useful to California.
Most items in the news section are developed by editorial staff, based on UC research and extension activity. Faculty sources review these items for accuracy and balance of presentation. However, they are not peer-reviewed for original research content, or as a review of the same.
Faculty may author Outlook articles, described below. Suggestions for coverage are welcome.
Science briefs are typically 300 words or less in length and are based on news tips and releases from campuses, research and extension centers, and county offices. They are selected based on the significance of the research and its practical value to our audience.
Research news articles are typically 600 to 1,200 words in length. They describe news or research developments that provide context for peer-reviewed articles in the current or previous issues, or discuss ANR outreach or educational efforts.
Letters to the editor are typically 300 words or less and are edited to fit available space. Letters about material published in California Agriculture may correct errors, provide support or agreement, or offer different points of view, clarification or additional information. They may be reviewed by faculty or consultants before being published. The letters we select to publish are intended to reflect a range of opinions, and the author(s) of the article(s) addressed may be given an opportunity to reply. The reply should be concise and respond directly to the issues raised. Letter writers should provide their full name, city and state of residence, e-mail address and phone number.
Outlooks may be authored by faculty, and analyze recent developments in research and public policy. They may take a position concerning the resulting impacts on California’s agricultural, natural and human resources. Typically, they do not exceed 1,500 words.
Introductions and Overviews are developed by editorial staff and provide context for peer-reviewed research in the current edition. Content must be of interest to a wide cross-section of our audience.
Sidebars authored by editorial staff may also appear in the text of manuscripts or news articles. Like all news articles, sidebars are evaluated by sources and other faculty for accuracy and balance.
Editorials and Editorial overviews synthesize or analyze recent developments in research and public policy and express opinions regarding the impacts on California’s agricultural, natural and human resources. Editorials and Editorial overviews range in length from 900 to 1,500 words, and are invited by the Vice President, Agriculture and Natural Resources, or on his/her behalf by the Editor.
Review and editing
All manuscripts submitted for publication in California Agriculture must undergo anonymous peer review before they can be accepted. We have a double-blind review policy, in which the authors and reviewers are not identified to each other. Associate Editors, who oversee review, are known to all parties. We forward each submission to the appropriate Associate Editor, who makes an initial determination of its (1) scientific soundness and (2) suitability for California Agriculture’s audience . The Associate Editor then nominates three qualified reviewers. If the first two reviews are affirmative, the article is accepted. If one is negative, we send the manuscript to a third reviewer. The Associate Editor, in consultation with the Executive Editor and/or Managing Editor, makes the final decision on the disposition of the manuscript.
In the last 3 years, the rejection rate has run close to 25%. In addition, Associate Editors send back 7% to 10% of submissions for revision prior to peer review. Although most manuscripts make it through review, few manuscripts get through review “clean.” As a rule, reviewers also require some revision before acceptance.
After we receive the final manuscript, we will begin our editing process. All California Agriculture manuscripts are extensively edited after peer review for style, grammar and clarity. Usually about 6 weeks prior to publication, authors receive edited proofs with the editor’s queries. We appreciate the prompt return of the proofs; authors who would like to see a second round of proofs should let us know at that time.
California Agriculture publishes refereed original research in a form accessible to a well-educated audience. In the last readership survey, to which 66% of our readers responded, 33% of subscribers worked in agriculture, 31% were university faculty or research scientists, and 19% worked in government agencies or were elected office holders, including Members of the California Congressional delegation and the California Senate and Assembly. Of respondents, 55% held advanced degrees and 87% were college graduates.
On average, publication occurs 6 – 12 months after receipt of a manuscript, which allows time for peer review, revision, editing and scheduling. If you have an article that is time-sensitive and you want it to appear in California Agriculture, notify us immediately. In some cases, we can turn around a manuscript in a shorter time.
California Agriculture now offers E-Edition, a venue for more rapid publication of time-sensitive articles. E-Edition articles are initially published in the electronic journal only. In many cases, E-Edition articles appear in the subsequent print edition.
Indexing, version of record
The journal is indexed by AGRICOLA; Current Contents (Thomson ISI's Agriculture, Biology and Environmental Sciences database, and the SCIE database); Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau (CAB) databases; EBSCO (Academic Search Complete); Elsevier; Gale (Academic OneFile); Proquest; and others, including open-access databases. It has high visibility on Google and Google Scholar searches. All peer-reviewed articles are posted to the ANR and California Digital Library's eScholarship repositories.
Beginning with the July 2011 edition, California Agriculture's online version became the "version of record," meaning the electronic journal is the authoritative version to be indexed by databases and repositories.
California Agriculture strives to maintain a balance between technical accuracy and a readable style to appeal to a diverse audience. Language should be simple, direct, clear and concise. Technical terminology should be used sparingly, and clearly defined at the outset.
Our surveys show that the most frequently read sections of California Agriculture are headlines, abstracts, introductions and conclusions. For this reason, we edit these sections heavily to ensure they are clear and meaningful. They must be intelligible to an educated lay audience.
Sections of the article
The text of a typical research article includes the following:
Headline (title). The headline should describe the gist of the research. It must use active construction and a verb.
Author names. Full names are used — ”John D. Doe” — unless the author is known by initials only.
Authorship. Authors must have made a substantial professional contribution to the paper, such as formulating the problem and hypothesis, structuring the experimental design, organizing and conducting the statistical analysis, or writing a major portion of the paper. “Authorship” means that all authors listed contributed a substantial portion of the total effort required to produce the manuscript.
California Agriculture asks for brief written justification of what was contributed by each author whenever the number of authors on a manuscript exceeds six.
Abstract. The abstract is usually four or five sentences long and provides an informal summary of the main points of the article. It briefly describes the research results and why they should be viewed as important.
Introductory paragraphs. Introductory paragraphs state the problem and reasons for conducting the experiment. We ask authors to establish the context of their research at the beginning of their articles, and to discuss the significance of their findings for agriculture, the environment, the economy and/or Californians as a whole. This often means describing:
- Standard agricultural practice.
- The economic and environmental impacts of research findings.
- Historic, social and geographic considerations, if any.
Text. Technical terms should be defined on first reference. Only enough of methods should be described so that the reader can understand and evaluate the results and conclusions. All tables and figures should be cited in numerical order.
If the experiment includes two or more trials, it often works best to describe the first trial and its results, then the next trial and its results; the conclusion can summarize the whole.
In addition to summarizing research, conclusions should interpret the results in terms of practical value and implications for future research.
Subheads. Subheads should be descriptive clauses adding information to the article; avoid the formal journal style of “Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions.” Subheads are one line, about 32 characters maximum.
Author identification and acknowledgments. Author identification should include the name, title, department or other affiliation and location of all authors (see the journal for style). After the author identification, you may thank collaborators who do not qualify for authorship; please also identify pertinent sources of research funding. For the purposes of anonymous peer review, include the author identification and acknowledgments only in your final, approved, post-review manuscript.
Matters of style
Refer to a recent issue for style. Below are some special requests and notes.
Abbreviations, symbols and acronyms. All abbreviations should be defined the first time they are used.
Chemical names. We prefer the common name, with the trade name the first time in parentheses (no trademark symbol necessary).
Literature citations and references. California Agriculture publishes citations and references in the interests of good scholarship and proper factual documentation. (See style guide.) In view of our space limitations, we ask authors to limit their lists to key sources of documentation. California Agriculture does not use footnotes.
Beginning June 2012, the suggested citation to California Agriculture articles uses the abbreviation "Calif Agr" to match the journal's designation on Thomson ISI Web of Science and Web of Knowledge. An example:
- Haroldsen V, Paulino G, Chi-ham C, Bennett A. 2012. Research and adoption of biotechnology strategies could improve California fruit and nut crops. Calif Agr 66(2):62-69. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v066n02p62
Units/measurements. We publish results in standard English measurements followed by metric equivalents in parentheses. If this is too cumbersome, a box listing metric equivalents may be published in the text of the article. Very small units that are difficult to convert to English measurements can remain in metric (i.e., milligrams, milliliters, etc.).
Spell out all units on first reference (i.e., pounds per square inch, parts per million, grams per square foot, etc.). Use numerals for all units of time (3 weeks, 5 years) and size (5 acres, 10 pounds).
Scientific names. Scientific names (with or without author) should be provided for all species (plants, animals, pathogens, etc.) in parentheses after the common name, the first time that a species is mentioned. Avoid putting scientific names in the headline or first sentence of the article; if possible, avoid using it until the second paragraph. After the scientific name is given once, use the common name, if there is one.
Submitting the manuscript
Please use the checklist to properly submit your manuscript to California Agriculture. We produce the journal, except for color photographs, entirely by desktop publishing, using Macintosh computers for layout and production. We strongly prefer electronic submissions using Microsoft Word.
Please include graphs or other figures, if any, at the end of the manuscript. If you have digital images or color slides, you may submit them at this time or wait until you hear that the manuscript has been accepted for publication. Please do not embed images in the text.
With your permission, California Agriculture now sends manuscripts for double-blind peer review in electronic format. We will send the manuscript to the appropriate Associate Editor, and based on his or her recommendations, refer it to two reviewers. You will receive an acknowledgment of receipt.
After we hear from the reviewers (ideally within 3 weeks), we will send you a link to view their recommendations and comments. If the manuscript has been accepted for publication, the Associate Editor will ask you to revise it in response to the reviewers’ suggestions.
After the Associate Editor approves the manuscript, we will ask for the final revised version, including revised tables and graphs, images, author identifications and acknowledgments.
The author will receive edited galleys — usually with numerous queries — for correction and approval before publication.
If you have any questions or need any guidance, please do not hesitate to e-mail or phone us. We are here to serve you, and to help disseminate useful and important research information to those who can use it. We look forward to working with you.