I am a 16 year old with hardly any experience in the academic field and have shown a certain degree of unprofessionalism in the initial draft of my first paper. Should I state this in the cover letter and probably apologize for that?

  • 2
    Please elaborate what you are meaning by "unprofessionalism" regarding your "initial draft" of a paper. Why was that a problem?
    – J-Kun
    Feb 22, 2018 at 9:10
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    What are you writing the cover letter for? Remember that most 16-year-olds have "hardly any experience in the academic field" and also would probably be "unprofessional" (because they have not yet learned to do it) when writing a draft for a paper. Also generally in a cover letter you do not add much detail but try to "sell yourself". Picture yourself in a positive light, everybody does.
    – skymningen
    Feb 22, 2018 at 9:14
  • @J-Kun I might have made errors such as making useless citations, and explaining points that I believe are useful but might not be that liked by the editor. I also sound kind of childish and hopeful about my research. I have shown my paper to 3 college level professors and each pointed out a new mistake. Feb 22, 2018 at 9:15
  • @skymningen Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. Should mention my age or inexperience anywhere, if at all. Feb 22, 2018 at 9:17
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    What you say about your paper draft... happens to every researcher. We usually are hopeful about our research, up to a point where it can sound childish to others, we get lost in details, we make mistakes others find easily. Don't beat yourself up on that. Do not mention what you perceive as inexperience. About age, I don't know. In some places, it is preferred if you don't mention age (so you cannot be discriminated for it), but for some things, it might be an important factor (People would not give an internship they fund to help high school students gain experience to a Ph.D. student.)
    – skymningen
    Feb 22, 2018 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


No, you should not mention your inexperience. It's simply not going to factor into the editor's decision as to whether to publish your paper. Papers are (at least in theory) published purely on their own merits. It doesn't matter whether your paper is a good paper for a 16-year-old, it matters whether it is a good paper, full stop. So it won't get any special consideration.

When you use the term "apologize", it makes it sound as if you are thinking: "I'm sorry for wasting the editor's time". If that's the case, just don't submit it. If you submit the paper, you think it's worthy of their consideration. It doesn't have to be perfect.

Note that a number of journals have special awards reserved for excellent papers from young/early-career scientists. If this journal is one of them, you may want to advise them of your age if/when your paper is accepted, but not before, so that they are aware of your eligibility.

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