Write an effective cover letter for your journal submission

You worked hard on presenting months and years of research as a 5000-word document. Your manuscript has also been edited and formatted as per the journal’s requirements. However, you are not yet ready to submit your manuscript as most journal article submissions require a cover letter.

Most journals provide clear instructions on what should be included in the cover letter. Hence, although there are some essential details you need to provide, you can set the tone of the cover letter and convey how your manuscript is different from the rest in your field. A compelling cover letter should convince the editor that your findings are novel and significant to your field of study and that your study is appropriate for their journal. A cover letter mentioning just the basic information—title of the paper, journal name, and contact details of the corresponding author—adds little value to submission.

Although there are several journal article editing services, they may or may not include cover letter preparation/editing. Most services would edit your cover letter if submitted for edit along with the manuscript. Under Editage’s Premium Editing Service, the editor will prepare a cover letter after editing and understanding your manuscript. If you require help with preparing a persuasive cover letter, look for journal article editing services that provide help with the entire the submission package—manuscript plus cover letter.

An effective cover letter should include the following components:

  • Title of the paper and corresponding author details: It may seem obvious to include these details, but ensure you do mention them in your cover letter.
  • Summary of your findings: Summarize the most important findings of your study without being too technical. You can use address the following questions to highlight the significance of your study:
    • How does my research add to the existing knowledge?
    • Do my results refute or compliment the findings of a key paper in the field?
    • What is novel about this study?
    • Does this study offer any remarkable future implications?
  • Motivation for submitting to the journal: Include a line or two about how your study is within the scope of the journal and what about the study would be of interest to the journal’s readership.
  • Ethical approval: If there are any ethical issues, mention whether your study was approved by the institutional review board. In case of clinical trials, mention that informed consent was obtained, and provide the registration/approval number (some journals especially ask for this).
  • Conflict of interest: Mention whether there are any potential conflicts of interests.
  • Originality and author agreement: State that the manuscript is not under consideration for publication by another journal and that all the authors have read the manuscript and agreed to submit it to that journal.
  • Preferred and non-preferred reviewers: Most journals encourage authors to mention their preferred reviewers because this may help to expedite the review process. Authors should choose reviewers wisely, ensuring that they have no conflicts of interest. Also mention any reviewers who should definitely not be appointed because of an existing conflict of interest. Note that the final choice of reviewers rests entirely with the journal editor, who may or may not accept your suggestions.

The cover letter is your chance to market your research article and capture the journal editor’s interest. It should go beyond requesting the editor to consider your research paper for publication.

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