One of the most neglected aspects of journal submission is the cover letter. Although it may seem like a formality, the cover letter is actually an important part of the submission process. The cover letter is your chance to tell the editor about your manuscript, why it is important, and how it fits into the scope of their journal. Overall, the letter should grab the editor’s attention. This letter should not be written hurriedly, because the quality of the cover letter can make or break your chances of publication. The cover letter should follow a fairly standard format.
Format of a Cover Letter
The first thing you need to do is check your target journal’s author instructions for the cover letter requirements. Sometimes, the journals will request that certain phrases or statements be included in the cover letter. If this is the case, then make sure that your letter contains all of the required information and statements mentioned in the instructions. Before writing the letter, here are a few key things to remember with regard to the format of the letter.
- The letter should be written on a letterhead, and it should be limited to about one or one and a half pages long. All the proper letter heading materials should be included (the date and the address of the recipient should be at the top left, under the letterhead).
- It should address the editor by name, if this is known.
- The body of the letter should include four short paragraphs.
- The first paragraph should introduce the author while stating that the author is submitting a manuscript for review. This section should include the title of the manuscript and the journal name.
- The second paragraph should cover the focus of the manuscript. This should include about 4-5 sentences that describe the focus of the study, the hypothesis, the approach, and the methodology.
- The third paragraph should be about 2-3 sentences and should describe the key findings and how these contribute to the field. It should also describe the scope of the manuscript to the journal based on the details of the manuscript. If you have any other important details that might make your manuscript stand out and encourage the editor to send it for review then do not forget to mention those details in this paragraph.
- The final paragraph should always thank the editor for considering the manuscript for publication.
Points to Remember
In addition, there are certain key phrases that need to be included, and some of these are even required by most journals. It should be mentioned that the written manuscript is original and no part of it has been published before, nor is any part of it under consideration for publication at any another journal. The authors might also need to declare any conflicts of interest. Finally, some journals require that you submit a list of potential reviewers in the cover letter and also allow you to mention any researchers who should not review your manuscript. All of these added statements are a very important part of the cover letter, especially if they are required by the journal, and contribute to the editors overall view of your manuscript submission. Do not forget to proofread your cover letter several times. The text should be revised for clarity and succinctness. Points or sentences that stray from the focus should be removed and all the sentences should be directly related to the purpose, the main results, and the most important findings and conclusions.
In addition, all basic grammar and construction issues should be corrected during the revision. If you need help with the revision, you can include your cover letter with your manuscript when seeking for a professional proofreading service. If you are still unsure of where to start with your cover letter, there several templates available that can help. We have listed some of these below: