Manuscript Guidelines

Manuscripts should be prepared using the following guideline. We have also prepared a submission checklist and quick overview of APA-style citations for your reference.

Accessible Scholarship

Accessible scholarship is the preferred writing style for the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. It is a wriiting style that is engaging (without hyperbole), has a minimum of jargon (i.e., limited disciplinary terminology) and uses the active voice. The active voice is where the subject of a sentence is performing the action, rather than being the target of the action. For example, "Grower cooperatives with 25 or more members participated in the survey" (active voice) would be preferred over "The survey was administered to a group of cooperatives with 25 or more members" (passive voice). Naturally, there may be instances when the passive voice may be preferred. An excellent overview of the use of the active and passive voices is available from The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


JAFSCD generally follows the style conventions outlined by the American Psychological Association (APA). We strongly recommend that you have the APA Publication Manual, 7th Edition, available as a reference while preparing your manuscript as well.


Please write your text in good English (American usage). We suggest that an author whose native language is not English have his or her manuscript checked by an English-speaking colleague or to use a translation service prior to submission. We offer a Consulting Editor Program (CEP) in which we will identify an experienced editor-for-hire who can work with authors on manuscripts that have been provisionally accepted.


Plagiarism may be unintentional, but it is every author's responsibility to use care in quoting and citing sources. During the copy-editing process, manuscripts are scanned for plagiarism using Grammarly software. We follow COPE's guidelines if we detect evidence of plagiarism. If we suspect plagiarism, we put the production process on hold and discuss the situation with the author. Resources to consult regarding plagiarism:

Understanding & Preventing Plagiarism from Accredited Online Schools.

Plagiarism Information from Purdue University Global.

Manuscript Preparation

Papers should be submitted as Microsoft Office Word files (Word 2007 or later is acceptable, as well as RTF). Do not submit a manuscript as an Adobe Acrobat file (PDF). A Word template, including all Journal paragraph styles and our preferred manuscript ordering, is available here, although you are not required to use it.

Use the following formatting guidelines:

  • 8.5" x 11" page size
  • 1" margins on all sides
  • 12 point Times Roman
  • Double-spaced
  • Left-aligned (please do not use justified alignment)
  • Clearly delineate the heading levels. (We recommend using Microsoft Word styles for heading 1, heading 2, etc., to ensure that the hierarchy is maintained throughout the editing and production process.)

The text should be in single-column format and in as simple a layout as possible. Most formatting will be removed and replaced as we process the article. You may use boldface, italics, subscripts, superscripts, etc. We recommend using the spell checker prior to submission as well.


Be sparing in the use of tables and ensure that the data presented in tables do not duplicate results described elsewhere in the article. When preparing tables, use Word’s table feature if possible. If not, use tabs—not spaces—to align columns. Tables should be included in the main manuscript in their correct location. (This may be in an appendix for large tables.)

Number tables consecutively in accordance with their appearance in the text. All tables should be referred to in the body of the paper (e.g., "As shown in Table 1..."). 


Place figures into the manuscript with an appropriate title and any footnotes, captions, or credits. Number figures consecutively in accordance with their appearance in the text. All figures should be referred to in the body of the paper (e.g., "As shown in Figure 1...").

Include a caption for each illustration in your main manuscript along with the illustration. Do not embed the caption in the figure itself. A caption should include a brief title and a description of the illustration. Keep text in the illustrations themselves to a minimum, but explain all symbols and abbreviations used.

Upload the original file (Excel or other) and a JPG or other format of the figure separately as well. See the section below for acceptable format and submission requirements.

Title Page

Include a title page saved as a separate file so the main manuscript does not have identifying information as it is reviewed.


Be concise and informative with your title. Titles are often used in information-retrieval systems. Avoid abbreviations where possible.

Author names and affiliations

Where the family name may be ambiguous (e.g., a double name), please indicate clearly how it should be listed. Present the authors’ positions (job titles), affiliations (the affiliation held when the work was done) below the names. Indicate all affiliations with a lower-case superscript letter immediately after the author’s name. Provide the full postal address of each affiliation, including the country name, and the email address of each author. (If some authors do not want their email addresses publicly available, specify that. Our publishing platform requires each author's email, but it doesn't have to be displayed publicly.) We do not publish author bios, so please limit what you provide to this requested information.

Corresponding author

Clearly indicate who will handle correspondence related to the paper, both using the review process and after it is published. Provide a telephone number (with country and area code) in addition to the email address and complete postal address.

Present and permanent addresses

If an author has moved since the work described in the article was done, or was visiting at the time, a “Present address” (or “Permanent address”) may be listed after the first affiliation. The address at which the author actually did the work must be retained as the main affiliation address.


List here those individuals who provided help during the research and writing of the article.


Each author must disclose all relevant financial and other interests that might be construed as resulting in an actual, potential, or apparent conflict in his or her role as an author of the paper, regardless of amount or value.

Funding Disclosure

List all funders who made the work possible.

Structure of the Manuscript

Below is a common format for applied research papers. Most types of manuscripts accepted by JAFSCD will follow a variation of this format, although you should feel free to customize the titles of major sections. All manuscripts should include an abstract and keywords. All major words of headings and subheadings should be capitalized, excluding articles and short prepositions. Bullets can be used to highlight lists.


A concise and factual abstract of up to 300 words is required. The abstract should give a clear idea of the line of reasoning in the paper and the main conclusions made. Mention the geographic location of the work if it is integral to the subject. The abstract should not include equations, diagrams, footnotes, or parenthetical references, but may include numbers. An abstract is often presented separately from the article, so it must be able to stand alone. For this reason, references should be avoided, but if essential, then cite the author(s) and year(s). Nonstandard or uncommon abbreviations should be avoided, but if essential they must be defined at their first mention in the abstract itself.


Immediately after the abstract, provide a maximum of 10 keywords, capitalized and separated by semicolons. Consider standard words or terms that describe your methodology, empirical investigation, and conclusions. Use  American English spelling and avoiding general and plural terms and multiple concepts (avoid, for example, “and,” “of”). Only use abbreviations that are firmly established in the field. If a common abbreviation or synonym is used, please include this in addition to the standard word(s). These keywords are critical for Web searching and indexing purposes.

Introduction and Literature Review

State the objectives of the work and provide background, including a brief review of the relevant literature. Address previous work of others related to the topic, particularly their approach and results. This section should explain why the topic of the research is important, providing an adequate background in order to set the stage for the remainder of the paper.

Applied Research Methods

This section describes the methods used to conduct the applied research such as a survey, case study, interviews, focus groups, etc. Sufficient detail should be provided about specific techniques as well as the rationale for the use of particular methods. Highly technical methods with advanced statistical analysis should be avoided. As this is a journal for practitioners and applied researchers, authors should rely more on simple descriptive statistics, or perhaps discriminant or factor analysis, and ANOVA.


Results should be clear and concise. How do the response rate and representativeness of the sample coincide with expectations? What are the key findings of the research? Include tables, charts, and graphs that aid in displaying and explaining the results.


Explore and describe the significance of the results of the work. A combined Results and Discussion section is often appropriate. Compare and contrast results with other research. What are the seminal findings? Avoid extensive citations and discussion of published literature. Provide recommendations, prescriptions, and thoughtful insights and observations.


What can be concluded from this applied research? What is the significance of the findings to practitioners and applied researchers? What remains to be explored, and what would the author(s) recommend for further research?


If there is more than one appendix, they should be identified as A, B, etc.


References should conform to the American Psychological Association (APA) 7th Edition.

Citations in the text

The APA style is the "author, date" format that immediately follows the citation in the text. See our submission checklist and quick overview of APA-style citations for details and examples of the most common reference. References are not footnoted. Works with three or more authors are referred to with all names in the first mention, and then by the first author followed by "et al." in subsequent citations. If the author's name is used in the text, the publication date alone is used in parentheses. Page numbers are included only when quoting the work or a very specific piece of data from the entire cited publication. See the examples below.


  1. The number of farmers’ markets in the United States tripled from 1,755 in 1994 to 5,274 in 2009 (USDA, 2009).
  2. Porter (1985) defined competitive advantage as having the ability to deliver the same benefits as competitors but at a lower cost (cost advantage).
  3. There is a broad literature on the benefits of farmers’ markets to vendors and their contributions to communities (Govindasamy, 2002; Hinrichs, 2000; Lyson, Gillespies, Hilchey, & Jones, 1995).

References section format

Please make sure your references are complete and correctly formatted. Manuscripts with incomplete or incorrectly formatted references will be returned before they go into peer review.

Refer to our submission checklist and quick overview of APA-style citations for examples of the most common reference types.

The reference list should be in alphabetical order by author name. If there are two articles by the same author, then the author's name is again written out in full. This follows the APA style. If there are two or more articles by the same author, they are ordered according to year, with the most recent appearing first. If there are two or more articles with the same author and same year, then they should be ordered alphabetically by title, with the first article being 1998a, the second 1998b, and so on.

  • Examples:

    Hilchey, D. H. (1996a). How geographic indicators are challenging the food industry landscape. Journal of Food Distribution Research27(1), 1-10.

    Hilchey, D. H. (1996b). Foodsheds and watersheds: The melding of concepts, the blurring of lines. Food Futures50(7), 85-88.

    Hilchey, D. H. (1997). Consumer acceptance of local food marketing in Spain. European Food Digest15, 232-234.

Please look up and insert DOIs for all references for which they are assigned. You can enter your entire reference list at once and copy DOIs at CrossRef's Simple Text Query.


Footnotes are used to explain or expand upon something in the text. They should be used sparingly.

Footnotes in tables and figures

Indicate any footnote in a table or figure with a superscript lowercase letter to distinguish it from the numbers used in the main content.

Figures (graphs, maps, drawings, and photographs)

Electronic artwork: General points

  • If your paper is focused on a particular area, it's helpful to have a map showing the regional boundaries of your work, and also to see the location in the context of the larger area.
  • As an online journal, we are not limited to black and white illustrations, so color illustrations are fine. Keep in mind that too many colors can be confusing, though. 
  • Only use standard fonts in your illustrations.
  • Number the illustrations according to their sequence in the text.
  • Insert the illustration or figure into your manuscript in the correct location, and ALSO submit each figure as a separate file, naming the file with the figure number and brief descriptive name. Include BOTH the JPG or other format that was inserted in your manuscript as well as the original Excel or other file from which it was generated (when possible).

File formats

Regardless of the application used, when your electronic artwork is finalized, please "save as" or convert the images to one of the following formats (note the resolution requirements for line drawings, halftones, and line/halftone combinations given below):

  • JPG: This is the preferred format for images. Paste each image in your manuscript in the correct location, but also upload the separate file as an attachment after uploading your manuscript. Upload the highest-resolution file possible (300 dpi is preferred).
  • Graphics created in Microsoft Word (docx), Excel (xlsx) or PowerPoint (pptx): If your electronic artwork is created in any of these Microsoft Office programs, provide the original, editable file as a manuscript attachment.
  • EPS: Vector drawings. Embed the font or save the text as “graphics.”
  • TIFF: color or grayscale photographs (halftones): always use a minimum of 300 dpi.
  • TIFF: Bitmapped line drawings: use a minimum of 1000 dpi.

Please do not:

  • Supply files that are optimized for screen use (such as GIF, BMP, PICT, WPG); the resolution is too low for printing; or
  • Supply any graphics copied from a website, as the resolution will be too low and copyright issues come into play.

Final Considerations

  • Have you run a spell-check on your manuscript?
  • Are references are in the correct format for this journal (APA 7th edition)?
  • Are all references mentioned in the Reference section cited in the text, and vice versa?
  • Have permissions been obtained for use of copyrighted material from other sources (including the Web)?

When uploading your manuscript, make sure that the following items are included:

  • Manuscript file (in Microsoft Word format), with figure titles/captions in the body of the manuscript where the figures should appear.
  • The title page as a separate file that includes the elements described above.
  • All illustrations in their original file format (Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) as well as saved in a common file format (PNG, JPG, etc.) for placement in the manuscript.
  • Any additional, supplemental files as appropriate.

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