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Nowadays most journals use electronic forms for the referees to submit their recommendations to the editor.

However, if that's not the case, how should the letter to the editor be structured?

In the referee report I have already mentioned some points I consider should be revised. But, do I have to explicitly state these points in the letter? or should I just say that the points mentioned in the referee report should be considered before publication?

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The cover letter should probably state:

  • The title and authors of the article you have reviewed (short list of authors "X et al." is fine)
  • Your recommendation for the disposition of the article (accept as is, reject, recommend major changes, etc.)
  • Any other important information that you wish to note. This could be anything exceptional, whether that be good (perhaps the article should be considered for "cover" status) or bad (for example, if you suspect something dishonest).

All other points can be addressed by referring the editor to the referee report.

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The letter to the editor should summarize what you outline in your review comments. You should outline why you think the manuscripts should be judged the way you recommend based on your comments. I, as an editor, find that it is useful to get a personal view point and often these are more explicit than what the reviews show. That said, remember, however, that your review is one of two or more and that they are an expert's view. Anything you express has to be supported by facts. Emotional outpourings are not very constructive and will likely devalue the review.

So, I do not see a particular structure very important it is more the content. It is important to get a summary and conclusion of the review outlining the major short-comings. It is good to provide a sensible justification for the suggested "verdict" based on the major points. If the work contains serious problems, particularly of an ethical nature, it is necessary to provide a very good case.

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