A manuscript is generally accompanied by a cover letter when submitted to a journal. A killer cover letter can get your manuscript a review ahead of a rejection. Yet, what a “killer” cover letter means exactly can vary greatly among journals and different article types. Journals seeking paper submissions, for example, might expect a page-long cover letter on a formal letterhead. This type of cover letter introduces the authors by name, rank, and affiliation; states the title of the article; its core argument; and outlines its particular interest to the journal, including the unique contribution it makes to the field whether due to its unique methodology or theoretical approach. Others journals might expect no more than a brief, one to two sentence email introduction. The letter must declares the originality of the article and includes an assurance that it is not published or submitted elsewhere.
If you’re not sure what your target journal requires it pays to ask senior colleagues and check the journal submission guidelines. If doubts remain you can always directly email the editor or associate editor of the target journal. But before that you can go through the following five general tips that you need to keep in mind before submitting a cover letter to a journal.
General Tips for Cover Letter
1) Read and follow the journal submission guidelines to the letter
This helps to demonstrate your particular interest in the journal and dedication to the task. The journal submission guidelines provide information on the do’s and don’ts that the authors must follow while drafting the cover letter.
2) Be clear and keep it brief
Brevity in this instance is power. In a minimum number of words, you need to identify the title of the article, state its originality, and ensure that it is not published or submitted elsewhere. Your next priority is to argue WHY your article is a good fit for this journal.
3) Be personable
You are building a relationship with this journal, so where possible address a specific editor by name. Be sure to identify yourself and all co-authors of this submission. Also, it is often important to demonstrate your knowledge of this journal by referring to recent published works. Explain how and why your article relates to these works due to shared themes, methodologies, or theoretical approach.
4) Promote the value of your research
Demonstrate your unique and original contribution to this journal. In two to three sentences emphasize no more than two of the following points:
• Your article presents exciting new information
• Your topic is a matter of pertinent interest at this present time
• It promotes previous research, review, and editorial discussions published in the journal
5) Address any potential ethical issues
If there are any potential conflicts of interest within your research, such as sources of research funding, it may be important to state these up front and address any concerns by explaining how they have been addressed within your research. Again, this helps you to build a relationship of trust with this journal – an important consideration for your future career.
Other than these do you have any other important tip that must be kept in mind while preparing cover letters? What is the format that you follow? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
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