How to Write a Cover Letter for Journal Article Submission
A persuasive cover letter for journal article submission is a tool that, if used wisely, can convince journal editors to review a research paper. It's a crucial part of the manuscript submission package that outlines the importance of your research to the editors. If the benefits of a paper aren't clear to the editors from the content alone, a cover letter is an excellent opportunity to prove your research is worth reviewing.
In this article, we cover everything you should know when writing a cover letter for journal article submission.
Why Is It Important to Have a Well-Written Cover Letter?
Online submissions are prevalent when it comes to submitting articles nowadays. Cover letters are an additional means that should be viewed as an opportunity to convey essential information about the manuscript to the journal editors. It's what helps authors "sell" their work. Authors can use the cover letter to explain how the research interests the journal's audience as well.
A cover letter is important to the editors for several reasons.
Summary of the Research
Cover letters include short summaries of the manuscript and highlight its findings. It may so happen that the initial editor that screens the manuscript isn't the person from your field, and they may have a hard time determining the overall importance of the research. Yet, they are the ones who decide if the paper warrants peer review. In these instances, cover letters are important because they summarize how the study contributes to the journal and that particular specialism, so the editor can clearly see the aim and scope.
As crucial as a cover letter is, it's well worth spending time to write a persuasive and coherent letter. This part should be taken as seriously as the rest of the manuscript submission package.
It Shows You Can Follow Instructions
A journal you are submitting your manuscript to may have its own set of instructions to follow along. Maybe your target journal requires authors to include potential reviewers, disclosures, or ethical practice statements. Forgetting to include the mandatory elements can have editors automatically reject an application, even if the research is of the best quality.
Publishers' main expectations are for the manuscript to follow the standard practices such as ethical standards for human-involving research, ethics approval from ethics committees, adhering to the authorship criteria, etc.
Authors that don't follow the rules or forget to include important information can be seen as careless and not detail-oriented, putting the quality of their whole research in question. This is certainly not a good first impression.
What Must a Cover Letter for Article Submission Include?
Before you start writing a cover letter, always check for journal-specific instructions for authors (IFA) on your journal's website. Sometimes, a journal doesn't require a cover letter, or it's an optional file. However, even though some journals may list it as optional, it's a good idea to submit a cover letter whenever you can.
Here’s what your cover letter should include:
Always add your full contact details, including your name, physical address, email address, and telephone number.
Addressing the Letter to a Specific Journal Editor
Check the journal website for information about the editor-in-chief. If you can find their name on the website, you want to place it in the upper left-hand of the cover letter page. Address them by name or with "Dear editor" in case no name is featured. Don't, however, address the editor with "Dear sir," as there's a high chance the editor may be a woman.
Be clear in stating the purpose of the letter ("I'm submitting a manuscript entitled [Name of the article] …") as well as the names of the authors and the type of the paper (research, review, case study, etc.)
Use terminology as the journal does. Check whether they refer to research papers as "Regular articles," or "Original submissions," or "Full papers," and refer to your manuscript as such.
Used Methods Research Results
Mention the aim and scope of your article right at the start. The editors need to know whether your work is relevant and how the audience in your area of specialism can benefit from it.
As you do that, let the editor know how you approach the problem in your research. This part should be focused and short, and all statements should align with the journal's readership. If your target journal publishes in a wide range of fields, try to explain how your article can impact multiple areas.
It's important not to repeat the sentences from the abstract, as this is the next file the editor will read. The summary should be short and prove how the research fits the journal's focus and what its implications are to the readers.
Make sure not to flatter the journal too much, and say, "We believe our findings will be of interest to your journal's readers" instead of "your prestigious journal's readers."
Mention if your research is related to some of your previously published work or to another paper published by another author in their journal.
Journal-Required Information and Statements
Most journals have required statements that should be placed after you explain the methods and results of your findings. At this point, you want to make sure you reviewed the journal's guidelines for the information you need to provide.
Some journals may require you to state your previous relationship with the journal or whether your work is under consideration by another journal, in which case they will not accept your work. Common phrases in this section include “no conflict of interest” declaration, authorship, suggested reviewers, concurrent submissions, and requests to exclude specific reviewers.
In the end, you want to thank the editor-in-chief for taking the time to consider your manuscript. Remain collegial in the tone and make sure to leave the best impression as they move on to evaluating your manuscript. Don't use statements that give instructions to the editor such as "We look forward to you reviewing our manuscript" and similar. Finish the letter with "Sincerely," followed by your name.
What You Shouldn't Write in a Cover Letter
- Too much jargon and acronyms.
- Jokes and funny sentences. Humor is often a great way to grab someone's attention. However, academic journals aren't the right place for doing so.
- Over-embellished words. Avoid words such as "first-ever," "novel," or "paradigm-changing" to address your findings. These expressions show bias and can make the editor question your objectiveness in assessing your work merits. Plus, you can sound arrogant, and it may feel like you're overvaluing your work.
- Needless information. Your cover letter shouldn't exceed one page. Don't add excessive information or discuss authors' reputations. The sole purpose of the cover letter is to briefly introduce your work and show why the journal would be interested in publishing it. This means keeping your sentences short, concise, and on-point.
- Long biography. It's usually not advisable to write your bio in the cover letter (unless specified by the journal.) Editors are mainly interested in your manuscript rather than your career.
Choose AKJournals as Your Helper to Get Your Articles Published
The cover letter is an important asset in the manuscript submission package. It lets the editors realize the importance of your work and how the findings can benefit the journal's readership. Having a well-formatted and well-structured cover letter brings you a step closer to having your manuscript accepted.
So, if you want to get your manuscript accepted, you should take some time and write a strong cover letter. AKJournals has a language editing service that provides support to authors with their submission process. Our text editing service partner offers a range of text improving and translation services to make sure your cover letter and the rest of the manuscript submission package are suitable for the application.