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A&EL Author Instructions

General Requirements and Scope

Contributions to Agricultural & Environmental Letters are concise manuscripts that report high impact and innovative results and observations with strong implications at the forefront of one or several agricultural and environmental disciplines; results with immediate impact on the research of others and requiring rapid publication, especially if presented as part of Society Conferences and Symposia; and methods manuscripts introducing innovative techniques, with immediate applications to agricultural disciplines. Manuscripts describing cross-disciplinary research or addressing emerging issues are of particular interest. Also accepted will be manuscripts that provide commentary on relevant issues (e.g. those issues related to science, policy, research trends, exciting new discoveries, food security, etc.) and Letters to the Editor. See About A&EL for other paper types. The Publications Handbook & Style Manual is the official guide for preparing and editing papers. All articles published in A&EL are open access under the Creative Commons license CC-BY NC ND.

Word Limits

Papers should be approximately 2500 or fewer words including abstract, headings, tables, and figures, where each table or figure is equivalent to 300 words. References are not included in the word limit.


Accepted manuscripts are prepared for typesetting using Microsoft Word. Therefore, authors are strongly encouraged to use this software during manuscript composition. Rich-format text and TeX files are not acceptable. The file should be double-spaced and line-numbered.

Math. If you have equations, please use the INSERT EQUATION function in Microsoft Word or use a program such as MathType.

Title. A short (<12 words) title that accurately identifies and describes the manuscript content is required.

The author byline should be set directly below the title. Use an asterisk to identify the corresponding author.

Author affiliations Include an address for each author directly below the author byline. These are intended to indicate the institution(s) where the research was done and usually consist of department or division, institution, city, state or country. Street addresses, post office boxes, etc., may be included; zip and postal codes should be included. Also include in this section the corresponding author’s email address.

Core Ideas. Include 3 to 5 summary statements that convey the core findings of the article. These statements should emphasize the novel aspects and impacts of the research on scientific progress and environmental problem solving. Each statement must be 85 characters or less (spaces included). If the article is accepted, the core ideas will be published as part of the paper.

Abstract. Research articles should include an informative, self-explanatory abstract (no citations). The abstract should be a single paragraph of 150 words or less, for use in abstracting services and databases.

Text. Papers should be written in scientific English, consistent with the style of other ASA, CSSA, SSSA journals. This should typically include the sections: Background, Procedures or Materials and Methods (when relevant), Results, Discussion, and References.

A final acknowledgments paragraph may be included.

References. The author-year system is required; numbered references are not allowed. Refer to chapter 1 of the Publications Handbook & Style Manual for our reference and citation style, in addition to following these guidelines:

• Arrange the list alphabetically by the surnames of the first authors and then by the second and third authors.
• Single-authored articles should precede multiple-authored articles for which the individual is first author.
• Two or more articles by the same author(s) are listed chronologically; two or more in the same year are indicated by a, b, c, etc.
• Only literature that is available through libraries or other readily accessible public media can be cited. Material that does not meet this standard should be cited as personal communication or unpublished data.


Journal article
Smith, D.T., D.L. Johnson, and J.K. Thomas. 2001. Phosphorus losses in irrigation runoff. J. Environ. Qual. 30:2569–2580.
Lindsay, W.L. 1979. Chemical equilibria in soils. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Chapter in a book
Nelson, D.W., and L.E. Sommers. 1982. Total carbon, organic carbon, and organic matter. In: A.L. Page et al., editors, Methods of soil analysis. Part 2. 2nd ed. Agron. Monogr. 9. ASA and SSSA, Madison, WI. p. 539–579.

Tables. Compose tables using the word processor’s table feature (i.e., the table should have defined cells—do not create tables by using the space bar and/or tab key). Tables should not duplicate matter that is presented in figures. Use the following symbols for footnotes in the order shown: †, ‡, §, ¶, #, ††, ‡‡, etc. The symbols *, **, and *** are used to indicate statistical significance at the 0.05, 0.01, and 0.001 probability levels, respectively, and are not used for other footnotes. Spell out abbreviations on first mention in tables, even if they have already been defined in the text. The reader should be able to understand the table content without referring back to the text.


Insert figure captions into the manuscript directly following the references list. Spell out abbreviations on first mention in figure captions, even if they have already been defined in the text. The reader should be able to understand the figure content without referring back to the text. Figures may be submitted separately as high-resolution image files in the following acceptable formats: EPS, TIF, PDF, or JPEG. Name files with the author name or (partial or complete) title and figure number. At the revision or acceptance stage, please name files with the manuscript number and figure number (e.g., ael-2017-01-0001-fig1.pdf). Use a minimum line weight of 0.5 point (thinner lines will not reproduce well). Screening and/or shaded patterns often do not reproduce well; whenever possible, use black lines on a white background in place of shaded patterns. Authors can shorten manuscript length by supplying figures that can be reduced to fit in a single journal column. Letters and numbers in the final printed figure (i.e., after reduction) should range from 8- to 12-point type. As an example, a 16-cm-wide figure should have 16-point type, so that when the figure is reduced to fit in a single column (approximately 8 cm), the type is reduced to 8-point size. Color figures are acceptable.


See the Publications Handbook & Style Manual for information regarding specific style issues. The following address some common style questions:

• Use a serial comma before the final item in a list of three or more items; for example: “The use of fertilizers increased by 12, 14, and 27%, respectively.”
• The Latin binomial or trinomial and authority must be shown for all plants, insects, and pathogens at first listing in the main text. For example: “In this experiment, 15.5-ha corn (Zea mays L.) fields were studied.”
• Manufacturer information must be included after first mention of a commercially available product. For example: “Samples were analyzed with a graphite furnace (HGA 600; PerkinElmer).”
• Software and software manuals must include a references list entry (e.g., “SAS Institute. 1990. SAS user’s guide: Statistics. SAS Inst., Cary, NC.”)
• Use of SI units will be encouraged in all manuscripts. Non-SI units may be added in parentheses.

Official Sources

• Spelling: Merriam-Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
• Plant scientific names: USDA–ARS GRIN Taxonomy (http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/index.pl)
• Chemical names: ChemBioFinder.com (http://chembiofinder.cambridgesoft.com/)
• Soil series descriptions: USDA–NRCS Official Soil Series Descriptions (https://soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov/osdname.aspx)
• Fungal nomenclature: Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States (APS Press)
• Journal abbreviations: Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index (CASSI; American Chemical Society, http://cassi.cas.org/)

Creative Commons License

Articles in A&EL qre published under the CC-BY NC ND (non-commercial; no derivatives) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ ): any further publication of the article will require proper attribution; no derivative works may be made from this article; and the article may not be used for any commercial gain (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/). Open access articles may be posted on an author’s personal Website, funder and institutional repositories, and article sharing sites.

Authors may request that their article be published under the CC BY licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) for an additional fee (see under Publication Charges). In summary: You may share immediately with attribution. Open access articles may be posted on an author’s personal Website, funder and institutional repositories, and article sharing sites.

Publication Charges

Manuscripts accepted for publication in A&EL are assessed a publication fee of $975. Brief commentaries (fewer than 1000 words) are assessed a publication fee of $500. Brief (one published page) Letters to the Editor are assessed a fee of $300.

Articles published under the CC BY are assessed a publication fee of $1475 for research letters and commentaries, $800 for brief commentaries, and $600 for letters to the editor.

Changes to Author Byline

Occasionaly, author names are added or removed from a manuscript between the time of submission and publication. In such cases, the lead author should advise the author being added or removed of the change and notify in writing the editor and managing editor.

Consent and Permissions

Before submitting the paper, the corresponding author should send each living coauthor a draft copy of the manuscript and obtain the coauthors’ assent to coauthorship. Authors are responsible for obtaining all permissions for use of figures from other publishers and should supply these releases at the time the accepted manuscript is forwarded for production. Authors are also responsible for obtaining permission from individuals whose images are included in photographs. Note that ASA, CSSA, and SSSA reserve the right to publish and republish any images you submit with a manuscript.

Supplemental Material

Supplemental material is not encouraged in A&EL as a way to circumvent the word limit for manuscripts. However, supplemental material may on occasion be included in the online version of articles. This will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Any supplemental material must be submitted along with the original manuscript and will undergo peer review. Ancillary information such as some experimental data, schematics of apparatus, maps of study sites, or material of interest mainly to specialists, are examples of potential supplemental material. Supplemental tables and figures should be cited in order in the main manuscript, as Supplemental Table S1, etc.

Supplemental material should be formatted with a cover sheet listing authors and manuscript title, and the number of pages, figures, and tables. Pages must be numbered consecutively, starting with S1. Tables and figures should be numbered Supplemental Table or Supplemental Fig. S1, S2, etc. The managing editor may limit the quantity of supplemental material posted.

The supplement should consist of a single PDF or MS Word file, rather than a series of files with individual images or structures. Other file types, such as Quick Time or Excel, may be allowed. Contact the managing editor with questions about file types. The following are not allowed: executables (.exe) of any kind, java script, TeX, or PowerPoint.

Submitting Manuscripts

Submit manuscripts at https.//mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ael. Because Microsoft Word files are required for editing of the text, it is preferred that authors submit the manuscript as a Word file. The figures may be submitted as PDF, EPS, TIF, or JPEG files. See Chapter 5 of the Style Manual for further details.

Peer Review: All manuscripts submitted undergo peer review. See the Editors and Reviewers information page and the Policy for Appeal of Manuscript Review for additional information on review policy.

Policy for Appeal of Manuscript Review

As a scientific publisher, ASA, CSSA, and SSSA must make judgments about the correctness and relevance of manuscripts under consideration for publication. The Societies rely on qualified volunteers to review manuscripts and to serve on editorial boards to make these editorial decisions and to provide feedback to authors. In the vast majority of cases, this process works smoothly.

Should an author feel that the process was implemented incorrectly or that a review was biased, or poorly done, the author should first inform the editor of that journal and attempt to resolve the concern at that level. If the concern is not satisfactorily resolved, the author may appeal the decision to the editors-in-chief. Their decision will be final.

All volunteers involved in evaluating a manuscript will be assumed to have acted in an appropriate and professional manner unless and until it is demonstrated to be otherwise. The Societies’ volunteers will keep all those involved in an appeal informed of the process, will always be cognizant that such investigations are difficult for all concerned, and will use their best judgment regarding tact and confidentiality.

Plagiarism Screening

Papers submitted to A&EL are screened for plagiarism prior to being sent for review, using CrossCheck, powered by iThenticate. If there appears to be major repetition from other sources, the editor will evaluate the duplication and take appropriate action as warranted.