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VZJ Author Instructions

General Requirements

Vadose Zone Journal (VZJ) will report fundamental and applied research from disciplinary and multidisciplinary investigations, including assessment and policy analyses, of the mostly unsaturated zone between the soil surface and the groundwater table. The goal is to disseminate information to facilitate science-based decision-making and sustainable management of the vadose zone. Examples of topic areas suitable for VZJ are variably saturated fluid flow, heat and solute transport in granular and fractured media, flow processes in the capillary fringe at or near the water table, water table management, regional and global climate change impacts on the vadose zone, carbon sequestration, design and performance of waste disposal facilities, long-term stewardship of contaminated sites in the vadose zone, biogeochemical transformation processes, microbial processes in shallow and deep formations, bioremediation, and the fate and transport of radionuclides, inorganic and organic chemicals, colloids, viruses, and microorganisms. Vadose Zone Journal will also address yet-to-be-resolved issues, such as how to quantify heterogeneity of subsurface processes and properties, and how to couple physical, chemical, and biological processes across a range of spatial scales from the molecular to the global.

Contributions to VZJ may be reviews, updates, original research papers, technical notes, comments or letters to the editor, book reviews, and priority communications.

Reviews may be may be invited or submitted. VZJ has a review coordinator on the editorial board to assist authors wishing to submit a review paper. 

Updates are related to Focus Topics and are short reviews of recent progress in a particular area. They are meant to serve as both resources for research and advanced teaching tools. Most Update papers will be solicited from subject matter experts in association with a specific focus topic. However, the journal will also welcome contributed Updates on topics that will be likely candidates for future focus topics.

They are written in a manner making them easily accessible to a broader audience and of interest to readers seeking an introduction to the particular topic. Updates should not exceed 5000 words, with references, but excluding supplemental material. Updates should include a title that attracts the attention of non-specialists and an abstract of not more than 150 words. Updates can be added to a focus topic at the request of the organizers. Updates will be subject to the regular review process. 

Original Research findings are interpreted to mean the outcome of scholarly inquiry, investigation, modeling, or experimentation having as an objective the revision of existing concepts, the development of new concepts, or the development of new or improved techniques in some aspect of the vadose zone.

Priority Communications are intended to highlight time-sensitive new research results that have far-reaching impacts across the vadose zone community, i.e., "game changers." These manuscripts will undergo the same rigorous peer reviews as other submissions, but the process will be accelerated and the papers will be shorter and more accessible. Instructions for Submission

Technical notes are scientifically sound, stand-alone articles that tend to focus on new experimental (laboratory or field), analytical, or modeling methods, and they tend to be shorter in length (~4-6 published pages). Technical notes are handled identically to other full research articles, they follow the same peer review process, and they are cited the same.

The submitting author should have sent each living co-author a draft copy of the manuscript and have obtained the co-author’s assent to co-authorship of it.

The Publications Handbook and Style Manual is the official guide for the preparation and editing of papers.

Please consult our Editorial Policies before submitting your manuscript.


Submit Online: Complete manuscripts should be submitted as Microsoft Word (preferred) files at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/vzj. New users will be asked to register at this site and will receive a User Name and Password.

Format: MS Word or LaTeX files may be submitted for review. MS Word is preferred. File sizes are restricted to 10 MB. All sections of the manuscript should be double-spaced. Use the page-numbering and line-numbering functions in your original file to allow discussion of particular sections of the manuscript. LaTeX files of accepted manuscripts are converted to MS Word for production.

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.

Reviewers: Authors will be prompted to provide a list of potential reviewers. These reviewers must not have a conflict of interest involving the authors or paper, and the editorial board has the right to not use any reviewers suggested by authors.

Internal Reviews: If internal reviews are required at your research institution, these reviews must be completed prior to submission to the journal. If a manuscript is altered on the basis of an internal review after acceptance, publication will be delayed and the manuscript may be returned to the editorial board for an additional review.

Revision of Manuscripts: Authors have four weeks to review and return their manuscript following reviewer and associate editor comments. Manuscripts may be released if revisions are not received in a timely manner and the paper will then have to be submitted as a new manuscript.

Supplemental Material: Supplemental material may be included with articles at the discretion of the journal editor and production editor. Authors are encouraged to submit material that contributes to the content and quality of the article. The material must be submitted along with the original manuscript for peer review. The production editor may limit the quantity of supplemental material posted per issue. Extra images, video, or large tables are examples of appropriate supplemental material. A supplement may consist of one or multiple files. A PDF is recommended. Ideally, the supplement should consist of a single PDF or MS Word file (rather than a series of files with individual images or structures); however, most file types are allowed, including video, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint files. To keep file size down, please compress the files if possible. The following are not allowed: executables (.exe) of any kind, javascript, or TeX. If you have specific file requirements not addressed here, please contact the managing editor for assistance.

Reproducible Research: Articles designated as Reproducible Research (RR) in VZJ are a class of articles that include supplemental computer code and/or data that permit readers to analyze the data in a manner similar to that presented in the article and reproduce all results from the article. The purpose of RR in VZJ is to provide a means for verifying the correctness of results presented in published articles and for building on results in future research and applications. See the Author and Reviewer Instructions for more information.


Format: Manuscripts submitted for review should be MS Word files. File sizes are restricted to 10 MB. All sections of the manuscript should be double-spaced. Include page numbers and line numbers. LaTex Files? We are now accepting LaTex files. If the paper is accepted, it will be sent to a vendor for conversion before regular production can begin.

The file should contain the following elements:
• Title page
• Core ideas
• Abstract
• Abbreviations list
• Text
• References list
• Figure captions
• Tables
• Figures (figures may be submitted separately as high-resolution image files in EPS, TIF, or JPEG formats)

When your paper is accepted you will need to submit final files for production. Fgures must be submitted for final publication as separate high-resolution image files in the following acceptable formats: EPS, TIF, PDF, or JPEG. Combine all parts of multi-part figures into a complete figure the way you prefer for it to appear in print. The production staff reserve the right to alter this for a better layout or better readability.

Title: A short title, not exceeding 12 words, is required. It must accurately describe the manuscript contents.

Author Affiliations: On the title page, include all authors' names and complete mailing addresses. Use an asterisk in the author byline to identify the corresponding author and supply the email address of the corresponding author. Professional titles are not listed. Other information, such as grant funding, may be included here or placed in an acknowledgment. The submitting author should have sent each living co-author a draft copy of the manuscript and have obtained the co-author’s assent to co-authorship of it. From time to time, authors' names are either added or deleted from a given manuscript between the time of submission and publication. In situations such as this, the ethical and responsible manner of handling this type of change is for the lead author to advise the author being added or deleted of the addition or deletion and to notify, in writing, the Editor and Managing Editor of the journal.

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 may also be used for promoting and publicizing the research.

Abstract: An informative, self-explanatory abstract, not exceeding 250 words (150 words for notes), must be included. It should state specifically why and how the study was made, what the results were, and why they are important.

Math: Use keyboard formatting where possible (i.e., bold, super-/subscripts, simple variables, Greek font, etc.) and use MathType or the Word equation editor for display equations. Notice for Word 2007 users: If you have equations, they must be composed using the Microsoft Equation 3.0 editor found under INSERT OBJECT, or with another MathML format such as MathType. Do not use INSERT EQUATION, which creates images (when converted) that cannot be used for typesetting. Regrettably, we will need to return any files created with Word 2007 that contain equations created with INSERT EQUATION to the authors for resetting.

Tables: Tables must be numbered consecutively. Submit tables in a word-processing format, not as graphics. Do not duplicate matter presented in figures. Use the following symbols for footnotes in the order shown: †, ‡, §, ¶, #, ‡‡, ..., etc. The symbols *, **, and *** are reserved to show statistical significance at 0.05, 0.01, and 0.001 levels, respectively, and are not used for other footnotes.

Figures: Authors are responsible for obtaining all permissions for use of figures from other publishers; 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. Please note that ASA-CSSA-SSSA reserves the right to publish and republish any images you submit. Type figure captions in the word-processing file following the references. Authors can publish color photos, figures, and maps. Label all figure parts. Prepare graphs and charts that will read well both on screen and as a PDF file printed from an office-quality printer. The final journal will include a PDF version of each article that closely resembles a printed journal; thus, make the figure type large enough to be legible after reduction to a final width of 8.5 cm (1 column) or 18 cm (2 columns). Authors can test a figure's legibility by reducing it to this size on a photocopier. Use open style or block letters and heavy lines that don't disappear with reduction. Any legend for graph lines or symbols should appear in the figure itself rather than in the captions. Files accepted are PDF, TIF, or EPS. Be sure to check the quality of the file before you send it. A single PDF file with all figures is acceptable. If sending TIF or EPS files, please send one for each figure, joining multi-panel figures into one image. EPS files often do not work if the fonts have not been converted to graphics. Name files with the manuscript number, figure number, and file type extension. Artwork files should adhere to the following resolution settings: 300 dpi for line art; 150 for photos. Color should be RGB rather than CMYK. Do not include figure legends or other extraneous text in a graphic file. Please do not submit graphics as Excel files.

References: The author-year system is required; numbered references are not allowed. Single-authored articles should precede multiple-author articles for which the individual is senior author. Two or more articles by the same author(s) are listed chronologically; two or more in the same year are indicated by the letters a, b, c, etc. The reference list can include theses, dissertations, abstract publications, and accessible online material. Material such as personal communications or privileged data should be cited in the text in parentheses. For chapters from books, include author(s), year, chapter title, pages, editor(s), book title, and publisher's name and location. For proceedings references, include author(s), year, article title, pages, editor(s), proceedings' title, location, date, and publisher's name and location. Authors should make sure that all references cited in the text, tables, and figure captions are listed in the reference section and vice versa. Authors should also be sure that spellings of names and dates of the references listed match the citations.

Nomenclature: Both the accepted common name and the chemical name of pesticides must be given upon first mention in the manuscript. Use chemical symbols for elements, ions, and simple compounds except at the beginning of a sentence or in a title or heading. The Latin binomial or trinomial and authority must be included with the common name for all plants, insects, pathogens, and animals at first mention. When referring to soils, give at least the subgroup in accord with the US system of soil taxonomy. Ideally, both the series and complete family name should be given.

SI Units: The International System of Units (SI) must be used. Corresponding English or metric units may be included in parentheses after the SI value.

Additional Language and Writing Help for Authors


Official Sources

Spelling: Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary.

Soil: For soil series names see Soil Series of the United States, Including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USDA-SCS Misc. Publ. 1483, http://ortho.ftw.nrcs.usda.gov/cgi-bin/osd/osdname.cgi. Amendments to the U.S. system of soil taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff, 1975) have been issued in the National Soil Survey Handbook (NRCS, 1982-1996) and in Keys to Soil Taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff, 1996). Updated versions of these and other resources are available at http://soils.usda.gov/. The Glossary of Soil Science Terms is available both in hard copy (SSSA, 2001) and on the SSSA Web page (https://www.soils.org/publications/soils-glossary). It contains definitions of more than 1800 terms, a procedural guide for tillage terminology, an outline of the U.S. soil classification system, and the designations for soil horizons and layers.

Scientific Names of Plants: A Checklist of Names for 3000 vascular plants of Economic Importance (USDA Agric. Handb. 505, see also the USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network database, http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/searchgrin.html).

Chemical Names of Pesticides: Farm Chemicals Handbook (Meister Publishing, revised yearly) or the Compendium of Pesticide Common Names, http://www.alanwood.net/pesticides/index_cn_frame.html

Fungal Nomenclature: Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States (APS Press).

Journal Abbreviations: Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index (American Chemical Society, revised yearly).


Manuscript Publication Charges

Membership in SSSA is not a requirement for publication in VZJ. 

Pages 1–7, $0
SSSA Member: pages 8+, $100/page
Nonmember: pages 8+, $200/page
Tables/figures, $0
Open access with CC BY-NC-ND license: $800, with pages beyond 7 additional as above.
Open access with CC By license: $1300, with pages beyond 7 additional as above.

No manuscript publication fees are charged for invited reviews, comments, book reviews, or letters to the editor.


Beginning with the January 2018 issue, VZJ will be a totally Open Access journal! All manuscripts submitted 1 Nov. 2017 and after will be published with a CC BY-NC-ND license and will incur the following charges unless other arrangements have been made previously:

Article Processing Charge (APC) for all papers: $1750
Excess page charge for pages over 7:
     SSSA member: $100/page
     Nonmember: $200/page
CC BY premium: $500, with pages beyond 7 additional as above.

The corresponding author must be a member of SSSA to receive member pricing.


Open Access Options

CC BY https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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.

CC BY-NC-ND https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ 
In summary: You may share immediately with attribution, but not for commercial or derivative purposes. Open access articles may be posted on an author’s personal Website, funder and institutional repositories, and article sharing sites. This license permits noncommercial copying and redistribution of articles with proper attribution, and prohibits distribution of derivative content.