In research and academia, it is extremely important to publish your data and results in international English journals of high-impact factor. All researchers have to submit a cover letter along with their manuscript to the journal editor. Usually, a cover letter is addressed to the Editor-in-Chief of the journal.
A journal editor forms a first impression of your work by reading your cover letter. Based on the cover letter, a journal editor gets a glimpse of the main ideas presented in your study. A journal editor then decides whether the manuscript is relevant for publication in the journal. In other words, a cover letter is a mirror to the quality of a research study.
A journal editor may either forward the manuscript to the team of peer reviewers or may reject it outright. In some cases, a journal editor may be so impressed with the cover letter that they may publish the manuscript as it is. Now, let’s discuss how you can write a cover letter that is concise yet persuasive in its tone.
Typically, a cover letter is written in professional English and should not exceed more than 2 pages in length. A cover letter is mostly written to sell a research study to a journal editor. In this article, we present 11 tips for cover letter development.
- Always include important fundamentals of a cover letter: It is always preferable to use a letterhead from your affiliated institution. If letterhead can’t be availed, then make it a point to furnish the following details at the top left corner of the page: the names of all authors, including corresponding authors, the email address for correspondence, and the physical address of the institutions affiliated to the authors.
In case of a standardized letterhead, the author must include his or her contact information at the end of the letter, just below the signature. The journal editor would always need your contact information for further correspondence. To increase the credibility of the cover letter, the author should include the hand-written signature and not just the mere name in typed format.
In some journals, different editors are assigned to review manuscripts of different regions: American, European, Asian, African, and Middle-eastern regions. Many prestigious journals have global coverage, so authors should make sure that they are contacting the right editor in their region.
Address the editor with their proper title, such as Dr. or Prof. before mentioning their correct name. A journal’s website usually displays the names of its editors. If the names of editors are not available on a journal’s webpage, then you may address them as “Dear Editor” or “Dear Editor-in-Chief”. Always refrain from using the following salutation: “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam.”
Authors should always make it a point to write the cover letter in a unique way. Remember that originality is the keyword here, so an author cannot simply copy the wordings from their manuscript. They need to paraphrase their results and findings in a succinct way. Only native English authors are capable of rewording their findings and data. Take the help of a native English speaker if you are not comfortable with rewording. Before developing ideas for your cover letter, make sure that your research completely aligns with the theme, scope, and objective of the journal.
2. How to present the main content in the cover letter of a journal: The tone of the cover letter should be positive and constructive; the English language usage should be professional. The “title of the manuscript” should be presented as it is in the cover letter. Make sure you present the correct title as there may be instances where you have changed the title in the final draft of the manuscript. Then, clearly mention the type of article presented in the manuscript.
For example, it could be a short summary, a meta-analysis, full article, a systematic review, etc. Remember, an ethical author never submits a paper to more than one journal simultaneously. There could be instances of an author submitting their manuscript to another journal after facing outright rejection from a prestigious journal. Then, such an author should write a new cover letter to the different journal editor.
This cover letter should address the theme, requirements, and objectives of the second journal. There could be instances where you are addressing the editor for the second time. In this case, the cover letter should clearly indicate how you have modified the manuscript by taking into account the constructive feedback of the peer reviewers.
All the reasons of rejection should be clarified in the second cover letter. A journal editor is always keen to publish papers that have novelty of content. Therefore, the main content of the cover letter should be just one or two paragraphs explaining the novelty of a research study. This section should cover all the important points presented in your manuscript. This section cannot be very long or short; it should be of medium length.
The author should present the best results of the experiments and mention all the novel techniques used in the study. All significant results of previous related studies may be included in a concise manner, if necessary. However, the author must be careful enough to ensure that the results presented in the cover letter match with those presented in the main manuscript and in the supplementary information.
Finally, the author should explain the significance of the rationale behind submitting to a particular journal. This is the most important aspect of a cover letter. A journal editor should be convinced that your research study addresses the scope of the journal. The author must explain how their research study addresses an important issue and how it can attract the attention of the journal’s readers. A journal editor must be convinced that the research study contains path-breaking results.
3. How to conclude your cover letter: Make a list of the other supporting documents that you are including with the cover letter: the main manuscript, the supporting information, author information forms, feedback to the comments provided by reviewers (This is included in revised cover letter.).
However, it is important to keep the cover letter concise, so some authors may do away with this information as it simply lengthens the cover letter. Remember a cover letter is like a sales pitch for a research study. The author has to convince the editor how a research study is relevant to the scope of the journal.
In the final paragraph, the authors should thank the editor for considering their manuscript, and they should be open to constructive feedback thereafter. The authors should refrain from using abbreviations in the cover letter. Before submission, they should make sure that the content does not have any errors related to grammar, punctuation, and style. There should be no spelling errors in the cover letter.
Most researchers in Korea think that cover letter development is a daunting task. Harrisco is a leading academic editing company that provides complete publication support to Korean researchers. The native English editors of Harrisco are retired professors who can draft perfect copies in immaculate English. Being scientifically strong with PhD degrees, Korean researchers are assured of high-quality work.