Table of contents:
1. The Importance of Journal Cover Letters
2. Key Points to Remember About Journal Cover Letters
3. The Journal Cover Letter Writing Process
4. Final Thoughts
a. Download our free journal cover letter writing guide and cover letter template.
The Importance of Journal Cover Letters
Journal cover letters are not just a formality. They give authors the chance to argue that your manuscript is a close fit with your targeted academic journal for submission, and it also gives you the opportunity to highlight your most important findings.
Ultimately, these cover letters are designed to influence the decisions of editors, to gently nudge them toward sending your manuscript out for peer review. As such, they should be written with probably more care than your own manuscript.
Research Square’s Free Journal Cover Letter Writing Guide and template can help you produce the most effective cover letter possible.
Download our free journal cover letter writing guide and cover letter template.
Key Points to Remember About Journal Cover Letters
Remember: Cover letters should interest the editor enough to read a paper carefully – as well as assure the editor that there are no conflicts of interest that would affect the decision to publish your manuscript. The end goal: Send it on for peer review.
A cover letter should be written like a standard business letter: Address the editor formally by name, if known. Include your contact information, as well. This information is likely available through the journal’s online submission system, but it is also good form to include it in the cover letter.
The Journal Cover Letter Writing Process
Start your letter with a paragraph that includes the title of the manuscript and the names of the authors. It’s not uncommon to have multiple authors on a paper. In cases where six or more authors are credited, consider writing “[lead author’s last name] and coauthors (listed below)” to make the introduction less unwieldy. Then list all co-authors under the letter itself. Next, describe what type of manuscript your submission is (research article, review, case report, etc.). In this first paragraph – and then in the next, describe the importance of your study, your rationale for conducting it, and the major findings from your research. You can refer to prior work that you have published if it is directly related.
The next step: Write a paragraph that explains why your manuscript would be a good fit for the journal. Don’t only mention that your manuscript is “of interest to the field” or “novel.” Address specific aspects of the journal’s Aims & Scope statement. If the journal states interest in research with a clinical application, for example, make sure to highlight the importance of your work in terms of clinical implications. If the journal mentions that it focuses on nanostructured materials, explain how your work involves these materials. Even if your work is not a perfect fit for the journal, be sure to address some of the Aims & Scope statements, then explain why your manuscript would be of interest to the journal’s readers.
Finally, end your letter with a brief paragraph indicating:
All of this information assures the editor that your manuscript merits consideration for publication in his or her journal and that you want to publish your manuscript there. A well-written cover letter is important for any scientist who wants to publish and make their research stand out.
Good luck with your submissions, and make sure to download our free journal cover letter writing guide and cover letter template to assist you in your efforts.