You’ve poured hours of work into your research paper, and now that it’s finally ready for submission, you realize you need to write a journal cover letter.
Yes, that’s right – you aren’t quite finished just yet. A cover letter is an important part of the submission process, and if you write it well, you’ll increase your chances of getting noticed by the journal editors.
But what is a journal cover letter? And what elements does it consist of?
Let’s get started!
What is a journal cover letter?
A cover letter is a short document researchers submit to journals alongside their research papers. Its purpose is to introduce and summarize your research to the editors, which allows them to sort through their submissions at a quicker pace and make decisions more effectively.
A cover letter is essential for multiple reasons:
- It helps speed up the submission process
- It shows the editors that you’re familiar with basic requirements and research practices
- It summarizes your research straight away, which helps the editors decide whether your topic is fitting for their publication
- It demonstrates that you’ve put in extra effort and increases the likelihood that your research paper gets noticed
I can’t stress this enough: remember to always check the journal’s requirements before you submit your paper and follow them to the best of your ability.
What to Include in Your Journal Cover Letter: Checklist
Journal cover letters aren’t just written on the fly – they follow quite rigid rules, and your best bet is to adhere to these rules in order to demonstrate your knowledge and professionalism.
Here’s what a cover letter typically includes:
- The submission date
- The editor’s name (if you know it)
- The journal’s name
- The title of your manuscript and the type of your research (a case study, a review, etc.)
- A confirmation of originality (this typically goes along the lines of, “We confirm that this work is original, that it has not been previously published, and that it is not currently under consideration for publication elsewhere”)
- A brief summary of your research, its importance in the field, and its appeal to the journal’s readership
- Any statements of information the specific journal requires of you (for instance, a declaration of no conflicts of interest or suggested reviewers for the manuscript)
- Your contact information (include your academic or professional qualifications)
- “Thank you for your consideration” and “Sincerely” as a closing salutation
How to Best Write a Journal Cover Letter: 8 Tips
As stated above, an effective cover letter abides by standard requirements and doesn’t deviate from the norm.
This means that the best course of action is to familiarize yourself with the concept of a cover letter as much as you can and to have a look at different templates online.
What’s more, try to keep these tips in mind:
Your cover letter is where you essentially “sell” your research as it were – after all, journals are looking for content that will appeal to their readership. Demonstrate why your paper is worthy of publication, why it will be interesting to read, and what it adds to the existing knowledge in the field.
Pay attention to the specific statements of information the journal requires of you and always include them in your cover letter.
- Conflict of interest: “We have no conflicts of interest to declare”, “This study received no financial support/received a grant from X”
- Reviewers: “A potential reviewer for our manuscript is Dr X”
- Authors: “All authors agree with this submission”, “All authors approved the final version of this research paper”
Polish your language. If you need help with this, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional service or an independent colleague. Some services also offer to write a journal cover letter for you.
Don’t copy your abstract word for word. Your cover letter isn’t just an overview of your research – it ought to convince the journal editors why they should accept your submission. You can use your abstract as inspiration but try to come up with a new text for your letter.
Personify your letter. Address the editor by their name if you know it, mention the name of the journal you are sending your submission to, and talk about why your research would appeal to their readership.
Follow standard formatting. If the journal in question has specific requirements or templates for this, stick to it. For example, they may want you to write in UK or US English, number your pages in a particular way, use a specific font and spacing, and adhere to a pre-set paragraph structure.
Avoid presuming statements. For instance, “We look forward to your response” could be seen as presuming, so a simple “Thank you for your consideration” will do.
Keep it brief. A cover letter shouldn’t be too long because that defeats one of its main goals – to make the submission process quicker.
Reach Out to FirstEditing
Need help with your journal cover letter?
Over the years, a team of subject matter experts and Ph.D. editors at FirstEditing have worked with thousands of authors and researchers to help them polish their manuscripts, cover letters, and more.
Not only that but FirstEditing also offers writing services. In fact, one of their add-ons is the writing of a journal cover letter itself. Plus, they can provide you with a Certificate of English Editing, a document that many journals require alongside your submission.
Are you ready to take your academic writing to the next level? Get in touch!