Writing a cover letter to the editor for a manuscript submission
Updated: Aug 14
I remember a few times when I was finished with a manuscript and was all ready to start the submission process. But then I remembered...I need a cover letter for the Editor.
The cover letter was always that one lingering task that remained after the hard work of finishing the manuscript. Nonetheless, the cover letter is a critical component to your submission.
During my first submission as a third year grad student, my PI told me to write the cover letter. And I remember being a little confused because I had no idea what that was. No one taught me what a cover letter was- I didn't have a class in manuscript writing and submission. So I had to dig around on the internet for a while to find the right format. My goal here is to save you that hassle and tell you exactly what you should be putting in your cover letter. I will also provide two examples of my own letters that I submitted for two papers that have been published.
1. Find an official word document with a letter head from your institution. This will have a logo of the the institution, and will normally have an area for contact information in the upper right or left hand corner. These can usually be found with a quick search in your institutions website search engine. If you can't find it, ask other people in your department.
2.. Select the journal you are going to submit to and identify the editor. This will be the person that you write the letter to. Refer to them as Dr. Firstname Lastname in the letter. Some website are not as well organized or have a lot of different content subjects that you could submit to and it may be difficult to identify the editor. If this is the case using "Dear Editors" is acceptable as well.
3. Double check what kind of article type you are going to submit. You will need this in the opening statement of your letter. It will look something like this:
We would greatly appreciate your consideration of “My Super Awesome Manuscript about Science” as an original research article in Super Science Journal.
4. You should keep the letter to 2-4 paragraphs- you don’t want it to be too long. The goal of the letter is to make it into something that the editor can read fast to quickly understand what you did and why its important. The paragraphs should focus on: (1) background, (2) what you did, and (3) why it’s important.
5. You have the opportunity to recommend reviewers within the letter. Sometimes submission website will have an area for recommended and non-recommended reviewers. You can put that information in the letter as well.
6. In my experience, I have put my name, as first author, and the PI's name at the bottom of the cover letter and we have both signed it. The signatures may vary depending on the lab or institution. If you are a graduate student and you are putting in the time to write the letter, make sure to put your name and signature on the letter!
See some examples below:
We would greatly appreciate your consideration of the manuscript, “Novel engraftment and T cell differentiation of human hematopoietic cells in Art-/- IL2RG-/- SCID pigs”, for publication as a Research Article in Frontiers in Immunology.
Our group at Iowa State University discovered and described the first pigs with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) in 2012 that we are now developing for a variety of different biomedical models. We have already been successful in utilizing this model for ovarian cancer, skin grafts, and stem cell research in collaborations across the United States. One of the major steps in developing this model is to immunologically humanize these animals through the transplantation of human hematopoietic stem cells. Humanization of the SCID pig would expand their utilization into fields related to cancer immunotherapies, HIV, and others that are reliant on intact human immune cells to study.
In this manuscript we describe our approach to improve the pig SCID model through gene editing and provide evidence of the first successful humanization attempt in this second generation SCID pig model. Our group at ISU is on the forefront of SCID pig model generation. We were the first to design and utilize biocontainment facilities for SCID pigs, as well as provide a detailed description of how to rear these animals. We have also published detailed procedures for in utero injection protocols, which we utilized within this submitted manuscript.
We believe that this will be a foundational manuscript as the newly emerging field of SCID pig research continues to develop. There are many researchers around the U.S. that are interested in the SCID pig model, and we believe this manuscript will emphasize new ways SCID pigs can be used in biomedical research. This project highlights the One Health Initiative as there are scientific researchers, veterinarians, medical professionals, and transplantation experts that have all been involved in this project.
All authors have seen and approved the submission of this manuscript. Thank you for your consideration.
We would greatly appreciate your consideration of the manuscript, “Human ovarian cancer tumor formation in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) pigs”, for publication as an Original Research Article in Frontiers in Oncology- Molecular and Cellular Oncology as part of the “Humanized Large Animal Cancer Models: Accelerating Time and Effectiveness of Clinical Trials Research Topic.
Large animal models for biomedical research are gaining recognition as critical components of translational science. This is paramount in cancer research, owing to the dismal clinical success rates of experimental therapies that show previous success in rodents. Indeed, in connection with this, NIH has several funding initiatives for encouraging large animal models of cancer. In this work, we report the first human ovarian cancer tumor formation in pig models, the first step in the path to truly orthotopic human ovarian cancer models.
We believe the significance of this work will resonate deeply within the ovarian cancer community, especially as ovarian cancer is such a lethal disease, detected nearly always at late stage. Pig models of ovarian cancer will enable new series of experiments in early detection by various imaging technologies, as well as meaningful new surgical and pharmaceutical approaches to treating the disease. We further believe that this work will encourage other cancer researchers to explore large animal models of additional cancers. Indeed, this work will become maximally significant and reach its broadest audience, by publication in a rigorous, general oncology journal.
We would like to request the following reviewers who would be appropriate for this manuscript:
I won't list the people here, but make sure to spell out full name, institution, and email.