tipology:letter

numero rivista e pagine: HSR Proceedings in Intensive Care and Cardiovascular Anesthesia 2011; 3(2): 137-139
PDF version

I really think you should publish this paper: the cover letter to the editor

Authors: M. John*1

Head of Medical Humanities International MD Program, Professor of Biomedical Communication Skills, Faculty of Medicine, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy

Corresponding author: * Corresponding author:
Prof. Michael John
UniversitÓ Vita-Salute San Raffaele
Via Olgettina, 48 - 20132 Milan, Italy


E-mail: michael.john@hsr.it

The letter to the editor of your target journal, also known as the cover (or covering) letter, is something that is all too often overlooked by authors. It must not be an afterthought, and its importance should never be underestimated. It should be no longer than 200 words.
The example in Figure 1 is, of course, how you should not write the cover letter.

 

 

Fgure 1

How NOT to write your cover letter

 

This poor effort would certainly not help the editor in question to seriously deem your paper fit for publication. It does not say who the writer is, what he is submitting and why it should be considered for publication. To be honest, many editors say that they do not read, or seriously consider, the cover letters they receive. Do you want to take that risk?

 

 

Figure 2

How to write your cover letter

 

As you can see, the letter in Figure 2 is laid out neatly and professionally. The author presents himself and his department and has taken the trouble to find out, and use in the address, the name of the current editor of the journal where he hopes to publish his research manuscript. The title of the manuscript has been highlighted in bold print and the line of research that resulted in the paper has also been briefly outlined. Most of all, the author nudges the editor into seriously considering the work for publication as it ‘might be of interest‘ to his readers.
Be very careful with what you write in the cover letter. Never be rude with editors. Never pay too many compliments about the editor’s incredibly fascinating and astoundingly authoritative journal. What you can eventually do is point out how the publication of your manuscript might help offer some kind of solution to a debate that has been taking place in that journal for some time on the topic matter you deal with.
Do not be superficial and silly. Be careful not to get the name of the editor wrong. Always check who the current editor is. This kind of mistake can be embarrassing, to say the least. Be careful too should you copy and paste from previous cover-letter models. Always remember to change the name of the journal to the one that you are submitting to now, not the one you submitted to previously. This, for quite obvious reasons, is especially important with resubmission following rejection. Humor is dangerous and should be left well alone.
Pay attention to any particular requests made in the Instructions to Authors.
If necessary, make sure that every author signs, or at least write the names of the authors involved in the project. If no specification of this kind is made be sure to state that you (the person writing the cover letter) are the corresponding Author, or else specify your specific role in the writing team. Give assent regarding copyright sign-over, if necessary, and state that there is no existing conflict of interest, should this be requested.
Writing a good cover letter is one more step in the right direction to achieving your ambition, which is to see your paper published, hopefully in your target journal.

 

'This is the tenth of a series of articles on this topic. Send any questions to michael.john@hsr.it who will answer them as part of this column'