Tips for Writing Better Science Papers: The Cover Letter (1)

  • Author: Richard Threlfall
  • Published Date: 02 October 2012
  • Source / Publisher: Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry/Wiley-VCH
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
thumbnail image: Tips for Writing Better Science Papers: The Cover Letter (1)

Have you ever struggled to write up your results into a publishable paper only to get it rejected? Richard Threlfall, Managing Editor, Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry, gives some insider tips on how to improve each section of your article and increase your chances of getting published.

The Cover Letter

Often overlooked in submissions, your cover letter is your chance to talk directly to the editor and to highlight all the most important results of your research. It can either make a great first impression or leave the editor uninspired, so it is a fantastic opportunity to make the editor sit up and take notice of your paper!

It is a very bad idea to submit a cover letter that just says:

Dear Editor,
We are submitting our manuscript for consideration in your journal. It is not under consideration for publication anywhere else.
A. Author

An even worse idea is not to submit a cover letter at all (which does happen)!

Much like an introduction, a good cover letter explains to the editor the critical question your research addresses, how you have answered this question, and why it is of significance to the wider community.

Consider the basic examples below:

Dear Editor,
Compound X has interesting biological and pharmaceutical activity. We made some improvements over a previous synthesis and believe it has wider applications in organic chemistry.
A. Author

A letter like this poses more questions than it answers for the editor. A better start might be:

Compound X is a potent anticancer agent. However, up until now, it could only be isolated in small amounts from Plantius planticus. Our total synthesis gives compound X in 99 % yield by …


We have synthesized catalyst A, which is 75 % more efficient than catalysts B and C for the industrially important hydrolysis of Y. This improvement in efficiency is caused by …

Technical details (where appropriate) will add to the editor's understanding of your paper, but be careful not to put in an overwhelming set of numbers or to exaggerate.

Lastly, suggest referees whether the journal requires you to or not. This shows you have a good knowledge of your field.

The best cover letters are concise and give a clear explanation of the advances and discoveries made in the course of the research. Remember, journals receive many papers per day and editors see hundreds of manuscripts per year, so take every opportunity you can to get your work noticed!

Article Information

DOI: 10.1002/chemv.201200115

Article Views: 47924

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in


Xiwen Chen wrote:

need to introduce ourselves in cover letter?

Editors sometime ignore our important work because we are not famous. Shall we introduce ourselves in the cover letter? thanks

Thu Jun 05 11:21:23 UTC 2014

Joseph ugye wrote:

An idea for maximal scientific knowledge publications.

The above article is a novel effort towards efficient and publication skills which unfortunately are overlooked by most researchers. It is a beautiful work and i give you a thumb up. ugye joseph

Thu Oct 04 08:55:01 UTC 2012

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from, please contact us first for permission and consult our permission guidance prior to making your request

Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on YouTube Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Instagram RSS Sign up for newsletters

Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH