California Agriculture
California Agriculture
California Agriculture
University of California
California Agriculture

Submit articles

California Agriculture is an open access journal publishing peer-reviewed research on California’s agricultural, natural and human resources.

We welcome submissions for peer-reviewed research and review articles (see “Article types” below).

While roughly 75% of our authors are affiliated with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), authors from other institutions are encouraged to submit manuscripts, and author affiliation is not considered in our review process. UC ANR affiliated authors include UC ANR Cooperative Extension (UCCE) advisors and specialists, as well as faculty and researchers in the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources, the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the UC Riverside College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

The journal also publishes news and opinion articles. If you would like to suggest a topic for coverage or are interested in writing an opinion piece, please contact Executive Editor Jim Downing at jdowning@ucanr.edu.



Preparing a research or review article

Writing for the California Agriculture audience

California Agriculture targets a broader audience than most academic journals: In our last readership survey, 38% of respondents worked in agriculture, 31% were university-affiliated researchers and 15% worked in government agencies or were elected office holders. Outreach to this broad audience is a key mission that the journal shares with its publisher, UC ANR. As such, the articles we publish must be clear and accessible to non-specialist readers while also meeting disciplinary standards for scientific rigor.

To strike this balance, it is not necessary to write in a style dramatically different from what you would use when preparing a paper for a disciplinary journal in your field.

Rather, write a well-organized scientific article, taking care that the context, findings and implications of your work are presented in plain, direct language. Ensure that it addresses the following questions:

  • What is the problem your research addresses, and how does the problem affect agricultural, natural or human resources in California?

  • What did you do, where, when and how did you do it, and what did you find?

  • What are the practical implications of the findings in the California context?

After an article has been accepted, the staff editors read and discuss it. If an article does not address the above questions, we send it back to the author with queries to guide revisions.

Our editing process can be extensive. But, if you address the questions above and follow the section-specific guidelines below, your paper is likely to be crystal clear and to need minimal revision following peer review.

Sections of the article

Title. The title presents the key finding of the article. It indicates the article content directly, using an active verb, in 100 characters at most. For example, from the July-September 2015 issue:

Thinning treatments had minimal effect on soil compaction in mixed-conifer plantations

Abstract. The abstract is about 170 words and has three components:

1. One sentence or two on the context of the study, so the reader knows immediately what’s at stake. For example (from same article):

If using biomass results in soil compaction and reduced forest productivity, the potential benefits may be considered to be not worth the long-term impacts.

2. A couple of sentences describing the research:

We analyzed soil strength, . . .

3. Two or three sentences that present the key findings of the research:

Neither the commercial thins nor the mastication treatments resulted in . . . Most of the compaction came from . . . This study suggests that managers should not expect large impacts . . .

Introductory paragraphs. The first two or three paragraphs of the main article text state the reasons for conducting the research and any background necessary for understanding the research. For example, if the research were on methods of controlling a particular pest, the reader would like to know how extensive is the damage to crops, what current controls exist, why the researchers undertook this particular approach to controlling the pest.

The focus of each of these paragraphs is immediately recognizable as important to the article topic. Please only include material that is directly relevant to the topic of your article. For example, do not be tempted to write a lengthy historical review of research on this topic.

Research study design and methods. Only enough of methods should be described in the main text so that a non-specialist reader can understand and evaluate the results and conclusions. Additional technical information on methods and analysis may be provided in a technical appendix (see below).

Results. The results section should analyze the data, not simply state data that is present in tables or figures.

Subheadings. Please use subheadings to orient the reader to the main parts of your article. As you write your article, it may help to follow the standard structure for scientific papers: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions. Before submitting your article, change those headings to brief descriptive clauses of no more than 32 characters. Add more subheadings as needed to guide the reader through the article. In the article mentioned above, for example, the subheads read:

Experimental treatments

No statistical differences

Soil compaction in perspective

Conclusion paragraphs. The last paragraph or two should interpret your research results in terms of their practical value for practitioners or clients and mention the implications for future research. It’s appropriate to mention each key finding of the research as you explain its value and the implications, but do not simply restate all the results. Readers need to be able to assess what your study results mean, why they are important and what sort of research needs to happen next.

Technical appendix. Technical information on methods or analysis that does not fit neatly in the main body text but that may be useful for reviewers evaluating the manuscript may be submitted as a technical appendix. Text in the technical appendix does not count against the word limits specified under “Article types,” below.

Matters of style

As you prepare your manuscript, please ensure that the elements below are formatted according to California Agriculture style.

Author names. Full names are used — “John D. Doe” — unless the author is known by initials only.

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.

Figures and tables. Figures and tables present the pertinent research data. Table headings are very short (e.g., “Average annual height growth in study of natural regeneration of blue oaks”). Figure captions can be longer; they should explain what the data shows. All tables and figures should be cited in numerical order.

Abbreviations, symbols and acronyms. All abbreviations should be spelled out, in parentheses, the first time they are used: huanglongbing (HLB).

Chemical names. We prefer the common name, with the trade name the first time in parentheses (no trademark symbol necessary).

Terms. Technical terms should be defined on first reference. Maintain consistent use of terms.

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.).

References. California Agriculture uses the “name-year system,” in which references are cited parenthetically in the text by author name and date of publication and listed at the end of the article in alphabetical order.

Unpublished work and personal communications should be cited in the text and should not be included in the References list. California Agriculture does not use footnotes.

Multiple references cited in a parenthetical should be alphabetized: (Brown 1987; Dawson et al. 1990; USDA 2000).

Personal communications and unpublished data:

If not author: (Richard Breitmeyer, affiliation, personal communication)

If author: (J. Nunez, unpublished data) or (J. Nunez, personal observation)

Journal articles:

Gardali T, Holmes AL, Small SL, et al. 2006. Abundance patterns of songbirds in restored and remnant riparian forests on the Sacramento River, California, USA. Restor Ecol 14:391–403.

Books:

Shuford WD, Gardali T (eds.). 2008. California Bird Species of Special Concern: A Ranked Assessment of Species, Subspecies, and Distinct Populations of Birds of Immediate Conservation Concern in California. Sacramento, CA: Western Field Ornithologists and California Department of Fish and Game. 450 p.

Parts of books:

Katibah EF. 1984. A brief history of riparian forests in the Central Valley of California. In: Warner RE, Hendrix KM (eds.). California Riparian Systems: Ecology, Conservation, and Productive Management. Berkeley, CA: UC Press. p 23–9.

Electronic resources:

R Development Core Team. 2008. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: Foundation for Statistical Computing. www.r-project.org.

Style manuals. If you would like more information about style, California Agriculture uses the following manuals in this order:

  • AP Stylebook (current edition)

  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.)

  • Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.)


Submitting the manuscript online

Please use the checklist below to properly format and submit your manuscript. California Agriculture manages peer review online at ScholarOne and we strongly prefer electronic submissions using Microsoft Word. If you have any questions about online submission, contact Managing Editor Deborah Thompson at dthompson@ucanr.edu or (530) 750-1223.

If you have any questions or need guidance, please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail or phone. We are here to help you and we look forward to working with you.

1. Cover letter

All manuscripts must be accompanied by a cover letter. The cover letter should include:

  • The names, addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and affiliations of all authors.

  • The title of the paper and a statement of its main point.

  • The total number of words (including text, references, and figure and table legends) in the manuscript.

  • A disclosure stating either:
    a) That the material has not been published and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
    Or b) that the manuscript includes findings that have been published in whole or in part elsewhere, but are being presented in a substantially different form with a focus on policy or management questions in California. We encourage such submissions, but note that the manuscript must represent, in the judgment of the associate editor and peer reviewers, an original contribution to the research literature. Submissions should be made within 6 months of publication in another journal. In such cases, please provide details about where and when the material has been submitted or published.

  • A statement specifying when data was collected. If the final data was collected more than 3 years before submission, please state why it is timely and relevant.

  • A statement that you permit the electronic transfer of your manuscript to peer reviewers and Associate Editors.

  • A list of photographic illustrations, either available or suggested.

  • If relevant, a statement describing the approvals obtained for human subjects research, specifying the institutional review board or ethics committee that issued the approval.

  • If relevant, a statement affirming that care of experimental animals was in accordance with institutional guidelines.

2. Manuscript text

In preparing the manuscript, please:

  • Double-space the whole manuscript, and place all tables, figures and captions at the end.

  • Use a 12-point font, such as Palatino or Times New Roman.

  • Leave margins that are a minimum of 1 inch.

  • Include continuous line numbering and page numbers.

  • For the purposes of double-blind peer review, remove all identifying information regarding all authors and co-authors.

3. Preferred reviewers

Authors are strongly encouraged to suggest 5 preferred reviewers. They should be experts with whom the authors have not worked in the past 5 years, and who are not currently in the authors’ department. Please provide the names and email addresses of your suggested reviewers when submitting your manuscript in ScholarOne. 

4. Illustrative and supporting material

Figures (charts, graphs, drawings). As a rule, California Agriculture does not directly reproduce color charts and graphs. Our art director will reformat them, and you will have the opportunity to approve and/or revise them.

Separate figures from the text and place them at the end of the manuscript. Number each figure and provide a numbered caption. On each graph, indicate units of measure and make interval marks along both the horizontal and vertical axes (see Council of Science Editors style manual). Where curves or bars need to be differentiated, include the legend to identify them in the graph itself rather than in the caption.

Our practice is to number only charts, graphs and drawings (fig. 1, fig. 2, etc.), and refer to them in text. We do not number photographs or refer to them as figures.

Captions. Include simple descriptive captions for all graphs, drawings and photos, including as many relevant details as you can. For drawings and photos, please list the artist or photographer’s name at the end of the caption. We generally rewrite captions at the final production stage to fit the space available in the layout; you will have the opportunity to approve or revise them.

Tables. Separate tables from the text and place them at the end of the manuscript. Your reformatted, edited tables will be included with the edited proofs for your approval.

Survey instrument. If the research involved a survey, please provide an electronic copy of the survey instrument. If the manuscript is accepted, we will publish the survey online as supplementary material, unless the author prefers not to.

Color images. We generally run four to six images per article. Submit high-resolution digital images via e-mail, or CD. You may also submit 35-mm color slides, preferably originals. We will return your slides after publication. As a last resort, we can scan your good-quality color prints. Please be sure all art is identified and keyed to captions provided.

Digitized images, whether scanned from conventional prints/slides or captured with a digital camera, must provide the resolution needed for our purposes.

  • The minimum size for digital images is approximately 1400 × 2100 pixels. Larger files up to 3500 × 5200 pixels are  preferred.
  • Do not supply your images embedded in Word or PowerPoint documents
  • Provide the images as separate files in TIFF, JPEG, or any RAW camera format. Original camera files are preferred. 
  • JPEGs should be original camera files or saved using the "maximum quality" setting.
  • Avoid converting the image to CMYK; we prefer RGB.

If you are unsure of the capabilities of your camera or have questions about content, format or transport of your artwork, please contact Art Director Will Suckow at (530) 750-1220 or wsuckow@ucanr.edu.

Tips:

  • Sharp focus and correct exposure are necessities, as the reproduction process does not improve slide quality but, rather, tends to exaggerate fuzziness and incorrect exposures. Be sure that the subject of the photograph stands out clearly against the background, and avoid confusing light patterns.

  • A slightly “flat” tonal range is preferred. Avoid high contrasts and deep shadows; the printing process exaggerates lights and darks, so much detail will be lost in highlight and shadow areas.

  • Take several exposures of each desired subject and select the most successful ones (or feel free to let us do the selecting).

  • Give us as much to choose from as possible. Try to submit both horizontal and vertical format pictures to help with layout flexibility. From our point of view, the more images we have to choose from, the better.

  • As you conduct your research, try to anticipate your photo needs, especially if you are dealing with seasonal material. We encourage you to use professional photographers on the campuses.

  • When submitting illustrative material, please review its content and consider seeking advice on safety issues, including the depictions of equipment use, pesticide use and food safety.

5. Conditions of acceptance

When a paper is accepted for publication in California Agriculture, it is understood that:

  • Photos depict situations that conform to relevant regulatory code, if any.

  • Authors retain copyright but agree to grant to California Agriculture (and the eScholarship repository and UC Regents) a nonexclusive license to publish the paper in print and online. Material published in California Agriculture, excluding photographs, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). In general, photos may be reprinted for non-commercial purposes; photo reprint requests are processed using the UC ANR Permissions Request Form.

  • Authors agree to disclose all affiliations, funding sources, and financial or management relationships that could be perceived as potential sources of bias.

  • The paper will not be released to the press or the public before publication.


Article types

All published research and review papers are peer-reviewed. Research must be relevant to California’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 analyze it with a focus on policy or management questions in California. Such 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.

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 – please email jdowning@ucanr.edu.

News articles are developed by editorial staff and typically cover research or extension projects conducted by UC ANR-affiliated researchers. 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. Suggestions for coverage are welcome.

Outlook articles are 1,000- to 2,000-word, non-peer-reviewed, op-ed style pieces that analyze recent developments in research and policy. They are typically authored by a researcher or a group of researchers. An Outlook may include citations, but it should follow a more conversational style than a research manuscript. If you are interested in contributing an Outlook, write to: jdowning@ucanr.edu.

Editorials synthesize or analyze recent developments in research and public policy and express opinions regarding the impacts on California’s agricultural, natural and human resources. An editorial is typically authored by a leader in academia, government, agriculture or business who is invited by the UC ANR vice president or the executive editor. Editorials range from 600 to 1,500 words.


Peer review

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 the journal’s audience.

If the manuscript does not meet these criteria, the Associate Editor will send it back to the author for revision prior to peer review. Otherwise, the Associate Editor assigns the paper to two qualified reviewers. If both reviews are affirmative, the article is accepted. If one is negative, we send the manuscript to a third reviewer.

As a rule, editors and reviewers require some revision before acceptance. The Associate Editor, in consultation with the Executive Editor, makes the final decision on the disposition of the manuscript.

In the past 2 years, roughly 40% of submitted papers that have entered our peer-review process have been rejected. Approximately 50% of submissions are rejected by the editors without peer review due to a mismatch with the journal's scope or clear weaknesses in the research or its presentation.


Other information for authors

Submission fees and Article Processing Charges (APCs)

California Agriculture does not charge authors submission fees, article processing charges (APCs), or any other fees for article processing or publication.

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.

Online and print publication

Accepted articles generally are published 4 to 12 months after receipt of the manuscript, allowing for peer review, revision, editing and layout. If you have an article that is time-sensitive, please notify Managing Editor Debbie Thompson (dthompson@ucanr.edu).

As of August 2016, California Agriculture publishes research articles online as soon as the PDF layout and HTML conversion processes are complete -- see the "Early View Articles" section on the journal homepage. A permanent DOI number is assigned to each article when it is published online.

The print edition of the journal includes research articles recently published online, along with news and opinion articles. Research articles are often grouped into thematic collections for an issue, meaning that print publication may occur several months after online publication. While most research articles appear in a print issue at some point, the journal has an annual print page limit (set by the budget available for printing), so some articles will be published online only.

When a print issue is published, each article in the issue is assigned permanent volume, issue and page number information. The DOI assigned when the article was published online remains the same, and the article metadata is updated in scholarly indexes. An article that appears only online (that is, that never appears in print) is also ultimately assigned to a volume and issue, with page numbers adjusted for continuous pagination. In the journal archive and in scholarly indexes, online-only articles are indistinguishable from print-edition articles.

Version of record

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.

Out-of-state submissions

California Agriculture welcomes out-of-state or international submissions. However, all research published in California Agriculture must be relevant to California'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.

Webmaster Email: wsuckow@ucanr.edu