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How to write a cover letter for your academic journal article

In this age of electronic submissions and instant gratification, the simple courtesies of yesterday are sometimes lost in the speed of today’s processes. Regardless, most people agree that good manners never go out of style.

As a result, introducing your article with a well-written cover letter to the editor can be the catalyst to a favorable review and acceptance of your submission for publication. These tips can help you write a cover letter that sells your research to the journal editor.

1) Make it personal

The cover letter should address the journal editor directly and convince them that your research is both worthy of review and a good fit for their journal. You want the reader to know that you are interested in being published with them, not simply in being published.

Most journals provide editor contact information on their websites. Where possible, the letter should be addressed to a specific person by name. In all cases, it should identify the paper you are submitting for review and the journal to which it is being submitted. Be sure to include how your manuscript fits within the scope of the journal.

2) Include key details about your manuscript

Identify the complete title and any co-authors on the manuscript. Briefly describe the type of research conducted, the underlying research question(s), and the main finding(s) from the study. A well-written abstract can provide most of these details as a starting point for the concise delivery of information in your cover letter.

When discussing findings, address how those findings are significant, and more specifically, why they are of interest to the journal’s readers.

3) Confirm eligibility for publication

Clearly state that the manuscript has not been published elsewhere; that there are no conflicts of interest or other issues preventing publication; and when working with co-authors, that all authors have approved the submission of the manuscript for consideration by this journal. Include any additional statements of eligibility as required by the journal guidelines.

4) Format the letter professionally

Properly format your letter using a business letter style. Use institutional or personal letterhead with corresponding contact information or include the contact details in your signature block. Include a date line, recipient address information for the journal editor, a greeting, a closing, and a signature block.

5) Express gratitude and demonstrate attention to detail

Thank the editor for their time and consideration of your article for publication. Demonstrate your appreciation for their time (and your professionalism as an author) by ensuring that all required elements are included in the cover letter according to the journal’s author guidelines.

A well-written cover letter will get the attention of an editor, but the manuscript will determine ultimate publication. Be sure that the claims presented in the letter are supported by the article submitted for review.

Eric SchmiederEric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.