By Peter Goldsmith, University of Illinois
Former Executive Editor, IFAMR
The International Food and Agribusiness Management Review (IFAMR) has seen a large increase in the number of submissions from all over the world. Our broad reach introduces some new elements:
- We are receiving and publishing new phenomena from around the world.
- Some of these new contributors have not been well trained in standard research methods and scientific writing. English as a second language presents challenges as well.
- Having new contributors from around the world gives the IFAMR editorial staff a unique opportunity to address this knowledge gap and build human capital among agribusiness scholars.
- Through our efforts IFAMR Editors directly improve agribusiness research methods and indirectly support better agribusiness analysis, recommendations, strategy and policy.
With that in mind we have developed a few guidelines to help scholars better understand good scientific writing. By adding precision in our communication to authors concerning areas for improvement, authors are able to raise the quality level of articles before they arrive at the IFAMR for peer review and thereby helping to streamline the review process.
The IFAMR is a scholarly journal that focuses on theoretical or applied research and teaching cases addressing problems and solutions relevant to management scholars or agribusiness managers. All submissions must explicitly address this premise throughout the manuscript, especially in the objectives, results, and conclusions.
To elevate the quality and impact of agribusiness scholarship worldwide by meeting the needs of authors as they seek greater impact from their research writing through:
- Teaching and counseling authors about the research process and scientific writing.
- Supporting the needs of non-English speakers with technical editing services.
- Achieving a high journal ranking and Impact Factor
- Providing authors with impact levels and manuscript download statistics
- World-wide marketing of the journal and articles to all agribusiness scholars, departments, analysts, and relevant government bodies.
- Direct internet access to the journal immediately upon publication.
Blind Reviews: Key Facts
- Reviewers do not know the author(s) identity
- The review team consists of two four reviewers and a Managing Editor
- They are volunteers
Reviewers are our “gatekeepers”
- They consider the method’s relevancy and quality
- They check the likely impact of your analysis
- They consider your research within the current literature on your topic
- They are time pressed Reviewers can be grumpy
- They are looking for errors
- Grammatical errors are the easiest to find
Top Ten (1a)
Use a Technical Editor that is Proficient in English
- A paper never has been criticized or rejected because the English was too good.
- Use the Chicago Manual of Style for reference citations.
- Keep your sentence structure short.
Example-Original: “The understanding of the energy-producing system as an intricate chain of phases that ranging from the field production to end-user utilization not only greatly increases our overall understanding of it but also facilitates the modeling activity.”
Example-Rewritten: “The energy production system involves an intricate supply chain from feedstock production to end-user fuel utilization. Modeling bioenergy systems as a linked process improves the analytical process and leads to greater insights.
Don’t over introduce terms for the same subject, action or concept
- Be specific.
- Avoid jargon, rhetoric, slang and abbreviations.
Top Ten (1b)
Use a Technical Editor that is Proficient in English
Try not to begin with a phrase:
Incorrect: “In order to start the assessment of our energy system, a systematical approach must be designed.”
Better: “Assessing an energy system requires a systematic approach.”
- Minimize auxiliary verbs (is, was, etc.) Use action verbs.
- Minimize adjectives/adverbs.
- Use adjectives/adverbs after presenting a supported argument.
Don’t use the passive voice
- Try not to put yourself in the paper. Limit the use of first person.
- Minimize possessive and personal pronouns, e.g., our and he, unless it is clear to whom or what you refer.
Top Ten (2)
Properly Prepare your Manuscript for Submission
Follow the IFAMR Contributor Guidelines for authors located: http://www.ifama.org/
- Insert line numbers.
- Format tables and graphs properly.
- Use correct font, line spacing, etc.
- Format section subheadings correctly.
- Cite references correctly.
Top Ten (3) Research Method
- What is the question?
- An intellectual tension (yes) vs. A descriptive story (no).
- Assume the reader has no knowledge or real interest in the subject.
Don't tell the reader an issue is important or there is a problem,
- Use the literature, empirical fact, or logic, such that the reader unilaterally concludes a problem exists or they see the tension.
- Cite others research used in the manuscript.
Top Ten (4) Research Method
The Literature Review
- A literature review is not a bibliography
- It is a way to use prior research to frame your approach
- It provides the scientific (methodological and analytical) context
- It indirectly shows that the author is well versed in the current methods and practices.
- The journal wants to assure readers they are getting the most current method and practice.
- Be sure to utilize the most recent literature, and the seminal articles on the subject.
- Explain why the literature is dated, if no current references exist. For example, no research has been conducted on the topic.
Top Ten (5)
Research Method: General
- Use the literature to justify your method
- Set method within a body of practice
- Explain why you selected the method
- Be frank about its limitations
- Method is often a means, not an ends
- Often the method is not novel, which is okay.
- Present just the key aspects of the method, unless the subject of the manuscript is the method.
- The reader needs to be able to clearly understand what and how you conducted your analysis.
- Use an appendix for methodological support materials
Top Ten (6)
Research Method: Data
- Fully describe your data
- Explain their source.
- Explain the collection method if you employ primary data.
- Describe the cleaning and conditioning process.
- What is dropped, added, and why?
- Act as if a third party will replicate your data collection and conditioning procedures.
Top Ten (7)
Research Methods: Results and Analysis
- Our editorial philosophy focuses on the interests of managers and management scholars.
- Results from a model are a means, not an end.
- What do they mean for managers and/or management scholars?
- Present implications not just what is duplicated in the tables and figures.
- Tables and figures complement text, and are not substitutes
Don’t send readers to tables or figures without specific guidance. You don’t want the reader to have to work.
Top Ten (8)
Teaching Case Studies
- First identify the concept or principle to be taught.
- Limit the number of concepts in a case. One is fine.
- A case is not a story.
- It is used to teach a concept or principal.
- Teaching notes are critical.
- Teaching notes should approximate a lesson plan.
- Think specifically about how an instructor will use the class in a class room setting.
Top Ten (9)
Responding to Reviews
- The review process is an anonymous conversation with a critic.
- Imagine you are talking directly to them.
- The Managing Editor makes sure the reviewer is satisfied with the response.
Upon Receiving the Reviews
- Set aside for a week if the reviews are negative.
- Identify each individual comment.
- Often, several are embedded in a sentence or long comment
- List each comment in a table and specifically address each one Being negative or harsh in your response is not helpful
- Even if the reviewer was not pleasant, it is not personal
- Show where in the text changes have been made.
- Feel free to not change the text, but you need to explain why changes were not made.
Top Ten (10)
Keep it short
- Target 15 pages, plus your tables, figures, references, appendices, and endnotes.
- Extracting a manuscript directly from a dissertation or thesis is difficult.
- Scientific manuscripts and dissertations significantly differ, Start fresh
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