General Information

Focus and Scope

The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) is an online, international, peer-reviewed publication focused on the practice and applied research interests of agriculture and food systems development professionals. JAFSCD emphasizes best practices and tools related to the planning, community economic development, and ecological protection of local and regional agriculture and food systems, and works to bridge the interests of practitioners and academics. Articles are published online as they are approved, but are gathered into quarterly issues for indexing purposes. JAFSCD is an online-only journal; subscribers access the content online and may download or print any articles.

As the journal focuses on the practice of agriculture and food system development, empirical and methodological content are emphasized over the theoretical. Applied research-based papers, case studies, project post-mortems, effective strategies, impact analyses, new possibilities (problems-solving, opportunity-taking and the like) are examples of what professionals in government, the nonprofit sector, and private practice find helpful in their work.

Interested in submitting to JAFSCD?

We do not accept unsolicited submissions, but we respond promptly to inquiries and/or query forms. JAFSCD does not charge for submissions. We recommend that you carefully review the About the Journal page for the journal's submission policies, as well as the Author Guidelines. Also read about Types of Manuscripts we accept, including word counts and other guidance. Then complete the JAFSCD Query Form in SurveyMonkey. Your query will be reviewed by Editor in chief Duncan Hilchey. If your manuscript is approved for peer review, we'll send you instructions for uploading it to Manuscript FastTrack, our editorial management system.

As an open access journal, copyright for articles is held by the author(s). We ask authors to give us an exclusive Creative Commons CC BY license to publish and distribute their article. In addition, we require authors to deposit their full papers as published into their institutional repository.

Article Processing Charge

Our article processing charge (APC) is US$500. If your institutional library or organization is a shareholder, the fee is waived. Check these lists to see if your institutional library or organization is a shareholder. Book reviewers are not charged an APC.

Organizational Shareholders

Institutional Library Shareholders

If you do not have resources to support publication, you can request a waiver—we do not intend to discourage submissions due to lack of resources.

You'll be asked about the APC and whether you'd like to request a waiver as you complete the JAFSCD Query Form.

Interested in suggesting or reviewing a book?

We're happy to take suggestions for books (or movies or other materials) to be reviewed, or to take proposals to review books mentioned in our Article Heads-up emails. Book reviewers are not charged an article processing charge (APC). To offer to review an item, please complete our online Book Review Query form.

Topical Purview

Production-Oriented Themes

  • Sustainable agriculture (though not including production techniques or technology)
  • Urban agriculture and community gardening
  • Agricultural education/mentoring/farm-to-farm
  • Farm labor
  • New farmers, small farm development
  • Farmland protection (easements, zoning, etc.)

Processing and Marketing-Oriented Themes

  • Adding value strategies
  • Diversification and specialization (e.g., specialty-crop industry clusters)
  • Distribution systems, cooperatives, value chains, food hubs
  • Agriculture of the middle
  • Marketing strategies, campaigns, and food and ag. tourism
  • Geographic Indications

Consumption-Oriented Themes

  • Consumer knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
  • Food systems planning
  • Food policy
  • Food citizenship
  • Food security
  • Emergency food assistance
  • Health, nutrition and well-being
  • Emergency food assistance
  • Food sovereignty and food justice

We acknowledge that all of these themes, and many others, are interlinked in a complex web — as opposed to a linear structure as is depicted above. The themes in the center, for example, can be contextually linked to purely production or consumption topics. Papers accepted for peer review by the Journal can focus on the one or more themes, and transdisciplinary research is highl encouraged. Furthermore, we recognize this topical purview is connected to many non-food system issues, including employment, global warming, a region's economic base, income, cultural issues, energy, environmental degradation, politics, global trade, and other topics. We hope that papers submitted can reflect this complexity by embedding the core themes of their work within larger contexts such as these. 

Contextual Subjects

Within a theme, papers may concentrate on a wide range of contextual subjects, including but not limited to:

  • Advocacy
  • Barriers
  • Best practices
  • Civic engagement and participatory strategies
  • Development (regional, community, rural, urban)
  • Conflict resolution
  • Community decline
  • Economics
  • Employment, labor, workforce
  • Energy flow and efficiency
  • Entrepreneurship and microenterprise
  • Financing
  • Environmental and conservation issues
  • Ethics
  • Financing and investment
  • Food safety
  • Impact, indicators, benchmarking
  • Legal issues
  • Organizational development and infrastructure
  • Place-making
  • Practitioner professional development
  • Recycling and waste management
  • Regulations and policy
  • Rural development
  • Social issues (e.g., disadvantaged groups)
  • Student and volunteer opportunities
  • Techniques, tools, strategies, approaches
  • Youth

Peer Review Process

The following are the basic steps in the process of submitting, peer-reviewing, and publishing a manuscript in the JAFSCD:

  1. Complete and submit the JAFSCD Query Form.
  2. JAFSCD editor in chief will review the form (and any additional attachment(s)) and notify the corresponding author whether the manuscript is approved for submission.
  3. If the submission is approved, the author is given instructions for registering and uploading the manuscript into JAFSCD's peer-review system. The author is also given a copy of the conflict of interest disclosure form that will need to be signed if the paper is accepted. This lets the author be aware of how to handle disclosures early in the process. (See an overview of conflicts of interest at Wikipedia.)
  4. JAFSCD editors assign the manuscript to two or more reviewers. The peer-review system is double-blind so that neither the author nor the reviewer is aware of the other’s identity. 
  5. The reviewers make recommendations on whether to accept (typically with minor revisions recommended),  provisionally accept (accept for a second review after major revisions are completed), or reject a manuscript. In all cases, the editors make the final judgment on whether to accept.
  6. After the reviewers' comments and recommendations are received, the editors notify the author by email of the decision and attach the reviews and any additional materials (such as copies of the manuscript with suggested edits and embedded comments).
  7. If the manuscript is provisionally accepted, JAFSCD editors generally give the corresponding author latitude regarding which of the reviewers’ recommendations they must address. However, the revised manuscript must be accompanied by a separate document or embedded comments in the revision noting how the author(s) responded to the reviewers' key recommendations.
  8. Some back and forth editorial activity may take place between the author and the journal editors as the manuscript is copy-edited and fact-checked. The author receives the edited version and approves or declines the edits and responds to any questions and comments. The manuscript is then formatted for publication.
  9. Once a formatted manuscript is completed, the corresponding author is asked to give it his or her final review and sign an author agreement transferring the copyright to New Leaf Associates, Inc., certifying that any conflicts of interest have been disclosed, and signing off on the version to be published.

Presubmission and Peer-Review Evaluation Criteria

The criteria for evaluating material submitted to the Journal, in no particular order, include:

  1. Its topical relevance to current agriculture and food system development practice, or to a call for papers on a special topic.
  2. The quality of the writing, especially its clarity, logic, professional tone, and appropriateness to the audience of applied researchers and practitioners.
  3. The appropriateness and execution of the applied research methodology used.
  4. The value of the insights gained from the paper in terms of its contribution to the literature.

As an applied journal, JAFSCD has a wider audience than a strictly academic journal would. Please keep this in mind in your writing style, and lean toward writing for an educated but not necessarily academic reader. Define terms and spell out abbreviations that may not be familiar to all readers.

Reviewers are asked to evaluate whether the manuscript:

  • Is original
  • Makes clear links into the community development aspects of agriculture and food systems
  • Is methodologically sound
  • Follows ethical guidelines
  • Has results that are clearly presented and support the conclusions
  • Correctly references previous relevant work

Reviewers are not expected to correct or copyedit manuscripts. Language correction is not part of the peer-review process.

A very concise guide for submitting a paper to a peer-reviewed journal like JAFSCD can be found in chapter 4 of How to Survive Peer Review, by E. Wager, F. Godlee, and T. Jefferson (BMJ Books). It also has guidance and best practices for serving as a peer reviewer.