ECHO Publications: Instructions for Authors
Types of Articles
ECHO publishes five different types of articles, described below. For each article type, content should relate to agriculture and/or community development: see “Aims and Scope” section for more information.
- ECHO Development Notes (EDN) is a quarterly publication in which ECHO shares ideas, techniques, case studies, and new plants with network members, to help them have a greater impact in their work with small-scale farmers.
- Lead EDN articles are ~1000 to 2500 words long. They are topic-specific and based on extensive experience or knowledge on a subject.
- “ECHOes from the network” articles are shorter. They share ideas, techniques, or experiences that are context-specific and likely in-process. They are flexible articles that can share experimental or observational content. They can also be written in response to information published in previous EDN issues.
- ECHO Technical Notes (TNs) share in-depth information on topics important to those working in the tropics and subtropics. Each TN covers a single topic, explaining related concepts and practical considerations. TNs devoted to specific practices or technologies typically include criteria for success, step-by-step instructions, and ideas for adapting the practice or technology to fit local contexts
- Best Practice Notes (BPNs) are concise summaries of interventions or approaches that have consistently and effectively improved the lives of small-scale farmers in areas of the world where resources are limited. Every BPN begins with a description of the issue or topic. Next, important principles are shared, followed by a list of best practices that might or might not be appropriate in the reader’s context. At the end of each BPN is a list of resources for further reading, with links to supporting publications or presentations.
- ECHO Research Notes (RNs) share results of first-hand trials and experiments, or of reviews of primary literature. The research centers around crops and agricultural practices that are relevant to those working in the tropics and subtropics. Research Notes must include an abstract (<250 words), introduction, materials and methods section, and results and discussion section.
If you would like to contribute to one of ECHO’s publications, please read the “Aims and Scope” section of this document to confirm that your topic and content are relevant to ECHO’s network. Send outlines or drafts of proposed articles to email@example.com, Attn: Publications Editor.
Cover letters are not necessary. In your email submission, please attach an editable file of your article or outline. In the body of the email, include author name(s), organization, and the type of article you propose (e.g. EDN, TN, RN). A member of ECHO’s Agriculture Technical Department will get back to you within 10 business days (about two weeks).
After submission, the ECHO publishing staff will review the article to assess its applicability and scope. If the article is not relevant, or if submission instructions were not followed, ECHO publishing staff may reject the article for publication through ECHO. Acceptance of an article is entirely at the discretion of ECHO publication editors; so are all other editorial decisions, such as cutting material, adding or editing information for clarification, and making changes to match publication style. However, if substantial changes are made to an article, editors will share those changes with the author for final approval before publishing.
Aims and Scope
ECHO publications are not peer-reviewed. They exist for the dissemination of agricultural information to a diverse, global network of people serving small-scale farmers. ECHO accepts articles that range widely in technicality through appropriate article-type. See Types of Articles for clarity on technicality level of various article types.
Topics. ECHO values the knowledge and creativity of smallholder farmers. It is assumed that readers have a basic knowledge of gardening and farming, therefore ECHO does not publish articles on elementary topics that are already written about elsewhere. ECHO rarely publishes articles on global problems (e.g. rampant corruption in the world) that are indirectly related to agriculture and beyond most people’s capacity to address. . Instead, ECHO focuses on specific topics that are relevant to smallholder farmers in the tropics and subtropics. For example, ECHO has published articles on the following topics:
- farm-level biodiversity,
- insect rearing for human consumption,
- crop monitoring,
- unique crop highlights,
- fireless cookstoves,
- the relationship between agriculture and nutrition,
- farming systems, and
For more ideas, explore ECHOcommunity.org.
Perspective. Perspective is a very important aspect of ECHO publications. The best articles do not just give information on a subject; they also provide perspective as to how important the subject is, confirmation that its claims are valid, and information about where/when to consider it. For example, sharing that people use a certain plant to treat a particular disease or to kill an insect pest is not enough. (Just because people do something does not mean it works.) The article should also share relevant personal experience and describe pros and cons of the technique.
Smallholder relevance. The information ECHO publishes must be relevant for smallholder farmers. Generally speaking, this means there will be very little cost or need for outside resources in order to implement a technique or try a new idea. There are exceptions; some initiatives are implemented at a community scale and will require greater inputs. ECHO’s priority with every publication is to reach and help smallholder farmers.
Outside resources. If a relevant subject has been written about well by another author/organization, ECHO generally does not write about it (unless to review it or make the information more accessible). Instead, ECHO seeks permission to put a link to the other organization’s article on ECHOCommunity.org.
Thoroughness. As you investigate a topic, try to anticipate what questions might arise in the mind of a reader who is interested in trying out the ideas or techniques you are writing about. Then try to answer those questions in your writing. As you write, also share any cautions, pitfalls to avoid, or failed approaches, based on your experience. In each publication, ECHO aims to share enough information that a reader would need to be able to implement a technique after reading about it.
Plagiarism. ECHO works hard to avoid plagiarism. A person can plagiarize without intending to do so, due to carelessness in taking notes and in referencing information while researching material for an article. Writers must keep track of sources of information (e.g. an interview, book, etc.), and give proper credit for others’ ideas. When you refer to another’s idea without using a direct quotation, list the author name(s) and year of publication (in parentheses) in the text, with a full reference at the end of the article. Indicate direct quotes with quotation marks, again referring to the source in the text and at the end of the article. Plagiarism is serious; it can quickly destroy credibility. Submissions with plagiarized content will be rejected.
Credibility. ECHO promotes practices that have been shown to be successful, preferably by farmers but sometimes also through preliminary research (with an invitation for others to experiment and learn). Writers should share concepts and practices that are scientifically sound and mention the extent to which a practice has been validated and accepted by farmers. As mentioned above, references to supporting scientific literature are encouraged. If data in tables and figures are not a result of the author’s work, those outside sources need to be acknowledged.
Level of complexity. Content should be clear, engaging, and readily understood by someone who has completed high school. Explain confusing concepts and technical terms in plain language with minimal use of jargon.
Copyright. ECHO retains the copyright for original material that ECHO publishes. Please see https://www.echocommunity.org/en/pages/intellectual_property_and_sharing for permissions and restrictions outlined in ECHO's copyright policy.
Format required for all articles
ECHO generally follows recommendations from the Chicago Manual of Style. Below are a few formatting consistencies we maintain for all publications.
Parentheses/brackets. When both are needed, ECHO publications use (parentheses) on the outside and [brackets] on the inside. Parentheses are the default when it isn't necessary to use both parentheses and brackets. [Brackets] are also used when an editor inserts a comment or words of explanation within an article.
Capitalization. Titles and subtitles---capitalize first letter of every word except for prepositions;
Headings/subheadings---capitalize first letter of the first word; remaining words in lower case unless they should be capitalized for some other reason (e.g., they name a person or country).
Spelling out numbers. Use numbers in numeric form before a unit of measure (e.g., cm, m, in).
Numeric ranges. The word ‘to’ is used between numbers in general (not a dash ‘-’). To avoid repeated use of the word ‘to,’ dashes can be used within a table that contains multiple ranges.
Single versus double quotes. Double quotes are used when quoting someone else's words or writing, and also if quotation marks are used to alert readers to a nonstandard (e.g., slang, ironic, or special sense) use of a word or phrase. Single quotes are used for horticultural variety/cultivar names, quotations within a quotation, and when a foreign word is being described.
Single space after periods. Following Chicago Style recommendation, use only one single space after a sentence rather than double space.
Commas. ECHO publications use the Oxford comma. A comma is used after all items in a list of three or more. This includes before ‘and’ or ‘or’ (e.g. a bush, tree, and vine).
Units of measurement. Give units of measurement in metric.
Font and size standards. Any font can be used in a submitted article as long as heading font sizes are distinct and consistent. (e.g. main heading 16 pt font, secondary headings 14 pt font).
In-text author citations. Place a comma between the author(s) and the year for each reference cited. Italicize the phrase "et al." to indicate more than two authors. Place semi-colons between citations. Examples are as follows:
- Citation of a single-author reference: (Kegode, 2019)
- Citation of a two-author reference: (Schreinmachers and Tipraqsa, 2012)
- Citation of a reference with three or more authors: (Phung et al., 2012)
- Citation of multiple references: (Phung et al., 2012; Schrenmachers and Tipraqusa, 2012; Kegode, 2019)
Full reference citations at the end of an article (in Reference section).
Journal article: Author’s Last name, First initial. Year of publication. Title of article. Title of Journal. Volume(Number):pages. (see p. 646 in the Chicago Manual of Style for examples).
Example: Ajeigbe, H.A., B.B. Singh, J.O. Adeosun, and I.E. Ezeaku. 2010. Participatory on-farm evaluation of improved legume-cereals cropping systems for crop-livestock farmers: Maize-double cowpea in Northern Guinea Savanna Zone of Nigeria. African Journal of Agricultural Research 5(16):2080-2088.
Book: Chambers, Robert. 1997. Whose Reality Counts: putting the first last. London: ITDG Publishing.
Chapter in a book: Morton, J. 1987. Passionfruit. p. 320–328. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.
Web article: Global Invasive Species Database. 2015. Species Profile Raffaelea lauricola. IUCN GISD.
Artwork (Tables and Figures)
Figures. For images, diagrams or other visual content, submit original artwork to ensure high publication quality, and include clear information for how to properly give credit for the image/visual. ECHO needs clear permission to translate diagrams with words. Include a caption for each image or figure (see below), and refer to each one where appropriate within the body of the article (again, as shown below; ECHO editors can assist with this).
Captions. Each image and/or figure must have a caption that includes a brief description and a source.
Example: Figure 1. Moldy peanut kernel that likely has high levels of aflatoxin. Source: Floyd Dowell
In-text Citations of a figure: (Figure 1) or figure 1
Example citation: A lateral flow strip is simply placed into the solution (Figure 1), or the solution is applied to the strip.
A lateral flow strip is illustrated in figure 1. Figure 1 illustrates a lateral flow strip.
Tables. Tables must be internally referenced in the body of the article and must have a header.
In-text Citations of a table: (Table 1) or table 1
Example header: Table 1. List of materials used for construction of a earthbag building.
In-text Citations of a table: (Table 1) or table 1
Example citation: Acceptable materials for construction are diverse (Table 2), or you can explore additional, local options for construction material.
A list of optional materials can be found in table 2. Table 2 lists a number of construction materials you could consider.