Communicating effectively with journals: What authors need to know

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Communicating effectively with journals: What authors need to know

Writing to a journal can be stressful for authors. They’re faced with many questions: How long should the email be? How quickly should I expect a response? Will the journal take offence if I follow up multiple times? Here are some tips to keep in mind when you have to communicate with a journal about your manuscript.

1. Use the Right Channels

Some journals provide an email address on their websites while others ask authors to communicate using built-in features of their manuscript submission system. It’s worthwhile to spend a few minutes making sure you are using the right channel, because this ensures your communication reaches the right people.

2. Include All Relevant Information Each Time

If communicating via email, it’s a good idea to include any relevant information in each email, rather than force the recipient to scroll down through trailing emails to find, for example, your manuscript ID. It’s also preferable to keep your subject line specific, such as “Status of Manuscript ABCD1234” rather than “Inquiry about delay.”

3. Be Polite, But Concise

Statements like “I expect a response immediately” or “Why is my paper still awaiting the editor’s decision even after 3 months” will not be perceived well. Frame your requests politely, for example, “I look forward to hearing from you soon” or “I would like to ascertain the current status of my paper.” Also, be brief as this shows you value the journal editorial team’s time. Lengthy unsolicited emails are generally not appreciated.

4. Proofread Your Writing

While journals generally don’t reject manuscripts because their authors have poor English communication skills, it’s possible that typographical errors and other basic mistakes in your communications could create a negative impression of you as an author. Proofreading your email is an essential step, as well-written and articulate communication creates a favorable impression of the writer.

5. Use a Professional Format

Treat emails to a journal as any other type of formal or business communication. Use a professional-looking font and follow the standard guidelines for business emails, such as dividing lengthy paragraphs into shorter ones and ending with a proper signature line.

6. Allow Time for Responses

Most journal staff and peer reviewers are busy and probably inundated with submissions. It's good to be realistic about timelines when communicating with them; most cannot get back in 24 hours. Ideally, wait at least a week before sending a follow-up email.

7. Where Applicable, Acknowledge the Journal

It’s nice to thank the journal for any inputs they have provided about your paper, even if they are cursory or negative. A single sentence, such as “Thank you for your time and consideration,” will do.



To help you out, here are templates for a few situations in which authors generally need to communicate with their journals.

  • When you haven’t received a response after manuscript submission

Dear [Editor’s Name],


I submitted a manuscript titled [insert manuscript title] with ID [ID number] to your journal on [Date], and the status has remained "Editor assigned" since then. Since it has been [X] months since my submission, I would like to confirm whether this is due to a technical error and whether the manuscript has been sent for peer review.




[Your Name and Signature Line]


  • When the manuscript status has remained stuck at peer review

Dear [Editor’s Name and Salutation],


My manuscript [ID number] underwent one round of peer review and was revised and resubmitted on [Date]. Since then, its status has not changed in the system. Please let me know when I can expect subsequent comments from the peer reviewers.


Thank you for your consideration.




[Your Name and Signature Line]


  • When you want to withdraw a manuscript

Dear [Editor’s Name],


I had submitted my manuscript titled XXXX [Title of paper] with the manuscript ID XXXX on [Add date of submission]. I would like to withdraw my manuscript from further consideration by your journal. My reason for requesting withdrawal is that [Provide a clear rationale. Remember that requesting a withdrawal in late stages of manuscript processing, e.g., after acceptance, may be seen as unacceptable or unethical unless you have a compelling reason.].


Could you please send me a withdrawal confirmation notice once the process is complete?


Thank you for your time.




[Your name and signature line]


Ultimately, communicating with a journal is not very different from other types of business communication, all of which are essential to a researcher’s work. Working on your email writing and general communication skills will help you navigate the publication process too. 

Would you like a curated collection of easy templates and expert tips for 10+ situations when corresponding with journals editors? Check out this practical handbookl!

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Published on: Sep 06, 2022

An editor at heart and perfectionist by disposition, providing solutions for journals, publishers, and universities in areas like alt-text writing and publication consultancy.
See more from Marisha Fonseca


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