As an important part of the submission process, the cover letter is your first opportunity to make an impression. In this guide we discuss the different elements that should be included in a cover letter. Also included is a template that can be used to prepare cover letters that stand out and ensure that your manuscript reaches the peer-review stage.

For many scientists, the cover letter comes as an afterthought or it is simply a cut and paste from the introduction and conclusion of the manuscript that has already been prepared. I am going to suggest that the first thing you write is the cover letter. If you have been following our step-by-step guide, you would have all the information you need to start writing your manuscript. But before you begin, writing the cover letter will help you determine if you really have all the information you need to submit a paper to a particular journal. Don’t worry if it is not perfect or that you might miss something. You can always make changes, and you probably will, before you send it. A good cover letter should contain the following items, which will help you enormously when you are writing your manuscript.

A short description of why the study was conducted.

A summary of the background of the research problem and the reason the research was needed.

A brief summary of the results, findings, and conclusions.

A statement that tells the editor why the research is within the scope of the journal and why it will be of interest to the journal’s readership.