How to write a good cover letter

Is writing a cover letter important?

The cover letter is the first thing that the Editor will read, and everybody knows how important it is to make a good first impression. In English, it is said “First impressions last” (i.e., first impressions last a long time) and “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

If the letter is inaccurate, full of mistakes, and carelessly written, do you think the Editor will have a good impression of you as a scientist?

If the letter is boastful and makes extravagant claims that are not supported by your research, the Editor will not be impressed. If the letter is long, rambling, and full of detail but it is difficult to pick out the key points, the Editor will not have a good impression either.

The cover letter is your request to the Editor to consider your article for publication. It should have enough information for the Editor to make an initial judgment that your article may be suitable for the journal. If it seems badly prepared, uninteresting, or not relevant to the journal, your article may be rejected before being sent for review.

What content should I put in a cover letter?

The first sentence is your request to the Editor to consider your article for publication Write your article title and the journal title in full. The following paragraphs should state:

  • Why you carried out the research
  • What your research shows.
  • What you conclude from your results.
  • Why this is important.
  • What is new or interesting.
  • Why it is relevant to the journal.
  • Any journal specific requirements, e.g., disclosure of interest, names of suggested reviewers (check the submission instructions on the journal website).
  • Confirmation that all authors have approved the version submitted for publication, the article has not been published previously, and it is not under consideration by any other journal.
  • Final paragraph: thank the Editor for his
  • Write your full contact details under your signature or name.
  • Use your institutional e-mail address, not your personal e-mail.
What should I leave out?
  • Details about yourself other than your contact details: you are not writing your CV or applying for a job!
  • Extensive data, details of your methods, in depth discussion of your results. Keep it short to make the most impact.
International Science Editing offers a cover letter editing service. See here for prices.