The cover letter is a formal way to communicate with journal editors and editorial staff during the manuscript submission process. Most often, a cover letter is needed when authors initially submit their manuscript to a journal and when responding to reviewers during an invitation to revise and resubmit the manuscript. For more information on the peer review process and possible manuscript decisions, see Section 12.7 of the Publication Manual.
Because cover letters are separate documents from the manuscript file, all correspondence during the publication process must include the complete manuscript title, the authors’ names, and the manuscript number (assigned by the journal when the manuscript is first received). Although any author may correspond with the journal editor or editorial staff, most correspondence is handled by the corresponding author, who serves as the main point of contact and responds to questions about the published article. All authors should decide prior to submission who will serve as the corresponding author.
Cover Letter for Manuscript Submission to a Journal
Authors usually must include a cover letter when they first submit their manuscript to a journal for publication. The cover letter is typically uploaded as a separate file into the online submission portal for the journal (for more information on using an online submission portal, see Section 12.10 of the Publication Manual).
The cover letter should be addressed to the journal editor; any interim correspondence is addressed to the editor or associate editor with whom you have been in communication.
In your submission cover letter, include the following information:
- manuscript title
- manuscript authors
- assurances that all authors agree with the content of the manuscript and with the order of authorship (for more information, see Sections 1.21–1.22 of the Publication Manual)
- assurances that the corresponding author will take responsibility for informing coauthors of editorial decisions, reviews received, and any changes or revisions made
- information about the existence of any closely related manuscripts that have been submitted for simultaneous consideration to the same or to another journal
- notice of any conflicts of interest or activities that might be seen as influencing the research (for more information, see Section 1.20 of the Publication Manual)
- a request for masked review, if that is an option for the journal and desired (for more information, see Section 12.7 of the Publication Manual)
- verification that the treatment of human participants or nonhuman animal subjects was in accordance with established ethical standards (for more information, see Sections 1.18 and 12.13 of the Publication Manual)
- a copy of any permissions to reproduce copyrighted material or a notice that permissions are pending (for more information, see Sections 12.14–12.18 of the Publication Manual)
- the telephone number, email address, and mailing address of the corresponding author
Check the journal’s website for the current editor’s name and for any other journal-specific information to include in your cover letter.
Cover Letter for a Revised and Resubmitted Manuscript
Also include a cover letter with manuscripts being resubmitted to a journal after receiving an invitation to revise and resubmit. Ensure the cover letter contains the complete manuscript title, the authors’ names, and the manuscript number (assigned by the journal when the manuscript was first received). In the cover letter for the resubmission, thank the editors and reviewers for their feedback and outline the changes you made (or did not make) to the manuscript to address the feedback.
The cover letter for a revised and resubmitted manuscript summarizes the changes to the manuscript. Along with the cover letter and revised manuscript, authors should also provide a response to reviewers, which is a detailed document explaining how they responded to each comment.
Sample Cover Letters
The following sample cover letters demonstrate how authors can communicate with the journal editor at the initial manuscript submission and following an invitation to revise and resubmit a manuscript for publication.