You have run your experiments, analyzed your data, and finished your manuscript, but now you are asked to write a cover letter for journal submission. How do you effectively convey your message in a cover letter? To understand how to gain the editors’ support for your paper, let us first discuss the role of this letter.
The cover letter is your first communication with the editors. As this serves as your first impression, you want to send a clear and concise message that highlights the novelty, validity, and significance of your manuscript. You also want to state why your manuscript would be a good fit for the journal. Keeping this letter concise and ideally to one page allows the editors to quickly review the highlights of your manuscript. Here are 10 steps we believe are important to follow when writing an effective cover letter (Table 1). We have listed examples to accompany each step; note that our examples are for illustrative purposes only.
1) Address the editor(s) formally by name in your cover letter
This information is found on the journal’s website and in the journal. Common mistakes we have seen is reporting the wrong editor(s) for submission or omitting an introduction. Though this cover letter is not published, it reflects poorly on the authors if there are incorrect editors listed or misspelled words.
Richard M. Peek, Jr., MD, and Douglas A. Corley, MD, PhD, MPH
Editors in Chief, Gastroenterology
Dear Drs. Peek and Corley: