How to write a cover letter to accompany your manuscript

How to write a cover letter to accompany your manuscript

Free Preview

In this post, we discuss some of the important points to consider when preparing a cover letter to accompany the submission of your manuscript to a journal.

What is a cover letter and why is it important?

Most journals require a cover letter to be submitted when you submit a manuscript that you wish to be considered for publication. A common thing that authors sometimes do, however, is to treat the cover letter as an afterthought, something to be written quickly, perhaps just copying and pasting parts of the abstract. This is a mistake. The cover letter is a vital part of the submission process – it may even be the only part of your submission that a busy editor at a top journal will read!

Bearing this in mind, your cover letter must capture a reader’s attention. That way, they may be sufficiently interested to go on and read your abstract, and potentially your entire manuscript. It is therefore essential to spend some time preparing your cover letter.

Tips on how to prepare the perfect cover letter
  • Keep your cover letter brief – ideally, it should be no longer than one page.
  • Address your cover letter to the Editor-in-Chief of your target journal. Their name can be found on the journal’s website.
  • At the top of your letter, include the date, the Editor-in-Chief’s full name, and the full name of the journal. Make sure you use their correct title (for example Doctor or Professor) – and make sure you spell their name correctly!
  • The letter itself should begin with “Dear” and the title and name of the Editor-in-Chief.
  • Your cover letter should focus on what is original or unique about your work and the question or problem your research has addressed. Importantly, you should make it clear why your manuscript will be of interest to the readership of your target journal.
  • If you and your co-authors have no competing interests to declare, you should add a sentence saying this. You should also state that all authors have agreed to the manuscript being submitted, and that it is not under consideration for publication in another journal.
  • To end your cover letter, sign off with “Yours Sincerely”, followed by your title (for example Doctor or Professor) and your full name. This should be followed by your contact details – your professional email address will usually be sufficient.
Common errors to avoid when preparing your cover letter
  • Don’t be tempted to simply copy and paste some (or all!) of your abstract.
  • Don’t describe your manuscript as a “first draft”.
  • Don’t write “Please find attached…” Instead, write something like “We are writing with regard to our manuscript entitled “(the title of your manuscript)”.
  • Avoid using too much jargon or a lot of abbreviations or acronyms.
  • Check carefully for any spelling and grammar errors – ideally, have someone else proofread your cover letter before submitting it.
Further study for this week

If you have time for further study this week, try writing a cover letter for a manuscript that you are planning to submit to a journal.

And that’s it – some simple steps to follow to help you craft the perfect cover letter for submission with your manuscript!

Lesson tags: English for science, How to write a cover letter, Scientific research
Back to: English for Scientists